Feedback, Goal setting, Performance Reviews

Traditional vs Agile Performance Management

By on June 7, 2016

Agile performance management is a collaborative, continuous feedback and development practice that is steadily replacing traditional performance management.

Traditional performance management has proven to be insufficient to assess an employee’s contribution. Its primary focus is setting up a series of processes to measure the employee’s performance over the whole year. These processes end up having an unanticipated effect of managers focusing on employee’s weaknesses. It is difficult to distinguish performance, except for the truly poor performers or high achievers. Being a year long process, below par or mediocre performers can’t be identified early on. Once a year performance review, with little to no feedback, gives no scope for development to the employees or the managers.

There needed to be a more dynamic performance management practice that could evolve and adapt according to the changing environment.

Thus, Agile performance management was introduced. Its three key aspects are regular feedback, communication and coaching. These aspects bridge the gap between goal setting and performance evaluation.

Agile performance management focuses as much on the process as the end goals. Continuous improvement is the key.


Let us look at a few ways you can introduce agile performance management in your organisation:

Incorporate regular 360° feedback

Traditional performance management  (PM) reviewed employees annually or biannually. They were given a feedback for their overall performance of the year.

In an age of instant communication, feedback should be given on an ongoing basis. A constructive feedback helps employees understand their strengths and weaknesses. Managers can help employees address the issues that hamper their productivity.

Similarly, employees can give regular feedback to their managers. It is the virtue of highly effective managers that they accept these feedback and improve themselves as well.

The stakeholders/customers too can share their expectations. A 360° feedback mechanism is highly beneficial for everyone involved.

Keep goals flexible

Traditional performance management set rigid goals for everyone for the entire year, that did not account for any changes. Employees were reviewed at the end of the year. They couldn’t fulfill these goals as unforeseen changes were not considered. This hampered their reviews to a high extent.

Employees are as different from each other as apples and oranges. Everyone works at a different pace. Individual goals should be assigned for individual development. These should be aligned with team goals for consistent growth and development. In case of any change in direction, they should be flexible enough to adapt to that change.  

The expected outcome should be clear. Goals for the organisation as well as teams can be designed and modified accordingly.

Collaborate more

Traditionally, spoon feeding was done on a large scale. Employees were believed to be inherently incapable of setting up their own goals.


Agile performance management lets employees find out their capabilities. Together they can determine a time frame in consensus for achieving their goals. This authority brings in a sense of accountability and boosts performance.

Focus on consistent development

Earlier, employees worked under tremendous pressure. Their performance review was largely dependent on their ability to deliver on time. Their race to fulfil quantity often compromised on quality work.

Now, managers’ focus on consistently developing their employees through various means. It could be regular feedback, training or even recognition for their work. Developed employees are able to perform better and increase productivity.

Supportive Leadership to increase 2 way communication

In traditional PM, communication is a one way process. Employees feel their work is being dictated to them. Not only is this unproductive, but can also create resentment among them.

Employees should be given an opportunity to voice their doubts. A 2 way communication ensures that the managers and employees are on the same page. There is a clear understanding of what is the purpose of their work and what is to be achieved. This ensures they do not deviate from the end goals and work hard to achieve them.

4 thoughts on “Traditional vs Agile Performance Management”

  1. Pingback: How Agile Performance Management Can Increase Employee Engagement

  2. Pingback: Khác biệt giữa Quản lý năng lực theo Agile và truyền thống – Shippo

  3. do you have examples of performance goals for individual or Agile development teams?
    We are an enterprise/company in transition. Management delivers KPI’s/goals and the requirements to measure them. Employees are trying to deliver according to the “excellent” requirements of the KPI’s to get higher salary. So focus is only on scoring instead of teamwork and continious improvement of the team.

    1. @disqus_nLIzxGcOjo:disqus , you can find OKR examples here –
      From our experience, goals should not only be measurable but also to encourage teamwork & continuous improvement. First change that you can already propose to the management – build a collaborative process to agree on KPIs/goals. If the management is just asking the employees to do something, buy-in is going to be limited. As soon as the individuals become stakeholders in goal setting process – it will discover areas of cross-functional collaboration & will also reveal employee aspirations, thereby paving way for continuous improvement.
      Hope this helps.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Related Blogs