Employee Ranking System (ERS) – Products and Technology
 

What is an employee ranking?

It’s an ordered list of employees from “most valuable” to “least valuable” derived out of the ERS (Employee-Ranking System)

What’s the purpose of an employee ranking?

It provides a logical and consistent framework for employee advancement, recognition, and rewards.  It can unearth and expose significant inequities.  If used on an on-going basis, it can provide valuable insight into employee performance and development trends.

How is “value” defined?

Different definitions make sense in different organizations.  We will consider three major dimensions – competence, the level of contribution, and value to the business.  In other words, how skilled the employees at what they do, how productive are they at what they do, and how irreplaceable are their specific skills or knowledge.  For each dimension, we will consider both “performance to date” as well as the “potential for the future”.  Since performance to date is less ambiguous than future potential, we will give it greater weight. Potentially this would help you to identify core members of your

What process will we use?

We’ll list all employees in a spreadsheet with some basic demographic information, their previous ladder evaluations, and the staff member they report to.  For each of your employees, you will rate them from 1-4 (4 being highest) in the three dimensions described above. You will leverage the details mentioned in this word document below in order to identify rating 1 to 4.  You’ll do that once for past performance and once for future potential for these three areas.  We will then total the numbers and ladder all engineering employees together, assigning a 70% weighting to demonstrated performance and a 30% weighting to future potential. You can download the spreadsheet by clicking on below link

ERS – Products and Technology Ladder

How should I calibrate my evaluations?

Keep in mind that the evaluations are independent of job level and experience.  The idea is to identify “most valuable” to “least valuable” That is, it is perfectly reasonable and generally expected for junior employees to get lower scores than more senior employees.  In fact, when that doesn’t happen, that’s a sign of either a high flying junior employee or an under-performing senior employee.  In addition, you can look at previous years’ rankings to get a sense of overall calibration.  Then, use the supplementary guidance in the sections below.

How precise will all this be?

Don’t worry too much about the precision of the numbers.  Our goal is to get relative ranking right.  The numbers give us a big head start in aligning our reference points and in creating a single merged list for the whole organization.  Once we have a consolidated list, the leadership team can ensure right people are in the right place.

Any other helpful instructions?

  • Please be careful not to break any of the formulas in the spreadsheet.
  • If you see errors in any cell, please highlight the cell and make the appropriate correction.
  • For the Rating column, enter your best estimate of the numeric performance rating (from 1-5) that the employee will receive this year or whatever your rating system is.
  • For the Promotion and the Performance Improvement Plan columns, enter a “Y” if you believe the employee should be on one of these tracks for the current year. Otherwise, you can leave the column blank.

The ranking would be derived from three core factors

  1. 1. Competence
  2. 2. Contribution
  3. 3. Value to business

Competence

Areas to consider:

  • – Breadth and depth of knowledge and skills
  • – Leadership and innovation, applied to people, processes, and projects
  • – Problem-solving ability
  • – Technical, business, communication, interpersonal skills

Rating 4:
Has mastered all required skills. Demonstrates strong leadership in one or more areas (e.g., technical, project management, process, etc.).  Consistently works to leverage skills for team and larger organization success.

Rating 3:    
Often operates above the norm, with advanced skills in some areas. Often expends extra effort to help meet goals. Has demonstrated leadership in one or more areas.

Rating 2:   
Has all basic skills for job category and uses them effectively to meet project goals.

Rating 1:   
Needs additional skills development to meet job requirements and to attain project goals. May demonstrate inconsistent achievement of task objectives and project goals.

Contribution

Areas to consider:

  • -Ability to meet commitments
  • – Overall productivity and volume of output
  • – Early communication of problems and contribution to workarounds that meets business goals
  • – Versatility – willingness and ability to adapt to new tasks
  • – Teamwork – willingness and ability to help others
  • – Leadership skills such as architecture, project management, change management, communication, and mentoring
  • – Ability to motivate others, manage self, and demonstrate initiative.

Rating 4:  
Someone who has a lot of initiative, is a  leader across the organization, and has outstanding productivity.

Rating 3:   
Someone who excels in 1 or 2 of these dimensions but not all 3.

Rating 2:   
Someone who delivers what is expected (i.e. does not take much initiative to do more), is a team player but not a leader, and has productivity as expected.

Rating 1:    
Someone who is below expectations in one or more of these dimensions.

Value to the Business

Areas to consider:

  • – Knowledge and skills as mapped to needs of the business
  • – Extra points here for unique skills we need

Rating 4:    
A critical person on a high profile project, creating a vision or blueprint for the project or accomplishing critical business objectives.  Without this person, current and future objectives would not be accomplished.

Rating 3:  
A core person on a high profile project.  Without this person, current and future objectives would be impaired.

Rating 2: 
Could be replaced without significant negative impact to the business.

Rating 1:     
The negative impact to the business. Drains resources and causes objectives not to be accomplished.

 

How can I grow vertically in product based organization?
 

As an Agile team member how can I be an expert at project is one among a common question I hear every time. The world is changing so fast, the evolution of tools and technologies making life so easy when it comes to implementation or writing code. When you talk about career, everyone wants to grow vertically and the easiest option I see to achieve this in product based companies is to get better at product and domain in addition to fulfilling your agile roles and responsibilities. This would help you to stand out in the crowd. To be honest, this is an easy path which lot of others do not want to take.

Vertical Growth

I am listing here top 10 ideas to be considered to grow vertically in product based organization.

  1. Spend 30 minutes to an hour every day to learn about the product by playing with product, testing out functionalities, reviewing code other than your normal work.
  2. Review existing documents around product. Whenever you see an opportunity correct them. Document your learning and contribute your knowledge in organization PAL (Process Asset Library). Writing or teaching anything to people helps you to move the knowledge to your permanent memory.
  3. Whenever you work on any sprint item (like bug, story, tech debt or spike), ensure you understand the user value proposition of that. Always ask yourself why I am doing what I am doing. How does it helps business?
  4. Understand all the integration with your product.
  5. Search on internet to find competitors. Find out what features we are lacking what our competitors have. What is that we have and others don’t have? Propose PO your learning and ideas.
  6. Participate in calls related to vision, roadmap or release planning.
  7. Communicate more with business owners. Understand priorities, business need and what is coming next.
  8. Ask question when in doubt. No question is a stupid question.
  9. Participate in showcases/demos and cross functional calls. Ask questions. Share your knowledge to others in team.
  10. Once in a week have a session with whole team to talk about product, domain, innovations and learning. Encourage everyone to share their thoughts.

I am sure doing some of above would boost your career in product based organization.

Re-Organization
 

We see organization re-structuring happens for enabling greater collaboration and innovation. I observed this lot many times when a multi-million dollar project fails. “What? A simple re-organization to fix a failed project of this big a size ?”.

I often wondered how re-organization could help teams and their daily activities (code). Today, I started searching the internet and found few interesting articles about how teams collaboration and attitude reflect on the code they are writing. There were lots of research papers which analyzes this and why organizations re-define their teams to enable greater collaboration.

Later I found Conway’s law.

“organizations which design systems … are constrained to produce designs which are copies of the communication structures of these organizations”.

I had to read and re-read this couple of times and associate this with our work before I could understand this. Below is my understanding of this law.

If there are more collaborations between the teams, their code will have more collaborations as well. If the teams are distributed, the code will be more componentized and distributed. If the teams don’t talk to each other neither do their code. Everything that we do as a team, reflects on the code.

You can search for more details about Conway’s law and the research which substantiate it.