Should a ScrumMaster Give Performance Appraisals?

©2006 Esther Derby

A ScrumMaster recently asked me if he should take over
responsibility for year-end performance evaluations since he was closer to the
work than the functional manager for the team. It’s not the first time I’ve
heard this question, and as more companies begin to use Scrum, I’m sure I’ll
hear it again.

It does make sense for a ScrumMaster to give feedback. But
when it comes to taking over (or participating in) the annual appraisal,
ratings, or rakings, my answer is “No. No. No!”

Here’s why.

There’s a fundamental conflict between coaching to improve
effectiveness and evaluating for ratings, rankings, raises, or promotion.

Yearly appraisals, performance reviews, and evaluations
emphasize hierarchy and differences in status. ScrumMasters are in service to
the team; they don’t manage the team. Creating a higher status position
(evaluator) is an impediment to the team self-organizing—and to team learning
how to give each other feedback and manage their own performance.

People who receive high ratings may bask in the glow of
affirmation. However, psychologists know that 80% of people believe their
performance is above average. Statistically that can

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