Regular performance review for software developers provides a company with a window to a developer’s… code. But how to improve retention and check your tech team’s alignment with company goals? The people have spoken, and 92% of them want frequent and consistent feedback from their team leads, now. That means companies need to invest into performance management and establish a practice of fair performance reviews for software developers.

Setting clear goals will ensure professional growth

IT enterprises often use a combination of approaches and types of performance reviews to guide, assess and improve the performance of developers. Here are the most effective ones.

OKRs

Objectives and Key Results is a successful goal-setting framework, used by most tech giants. Despite the fact that it was introduced by Intel way back in the 70s, it’s still a very much applicable management tool today. OKRs are a part of the Continuous Performance Management approach. It focuses on setting specific, measurable, and time-bound goals for the team and regularly reviewing progress toward these goals.

* Continuous Performance Management aims to help team members to understand what is expected of them, provide ongoing support to assist them with their goals, and identify areas for improvement so that they can continue to grow and develop.

Objectives: Clear, specific, and measurable goals that an individual or a team aims to achieve. They should be aligned with the company's overall strategic goals and should be challenging yet achievable.

Key Results: The specific metrics or KPIs that will be used to measure progress and success toward the objectives. Key results should be quantifiable, data-driven, and should reflect the impact of the objectives.

Time-bound: Objectives and key results should have a specific timeframe for completion. This helps to keep the focus on delivering results in a timely manner and monitor progress.

Regular Check-Ins: Regular check-ins, typically monthly or quarterly, help to keep progress on track and provide an opportunity for feedback and course correction as needed.

Feedback and Adjustments: Feedback should be provided to the person or team based on progress toward objectives. Adjust the goals and key outcomes, if necessary, to produce results.

Used by companies: Google, Node, Spotify, Twitter, LinkedIn.

360-degree feedback

This review method came to life long before any tech giant and even HTML or FORTRAN existed. Implemented by the military, it was an upgrade of the Multisource Feedback, which lacked an input from subordinates. 360-degree approach provides a more comprehensive view of the team member’s performance and potential.

Survey Instrument: A standardized survey questionnaire is used to collect feedback from various sources. The survey may include questions about specific skills, behaviors, or competencies, and may also ask for open-ended feedback.

Feedback Collection: Feedback is collected from a variety of sources, including the individual's manager, peers, subordinates, and customers. The answers should be confidential and anonymous to encourage honest and open feedback.

Feedback Report: The feedback is compiled into a report that provides a comprehensive view of the individual's strengths and areas for improvement. The report may also include graphical representations of the data, such as bar charts or radar charts, to help the developer understand the results.

Feedback Discussion: The team member meets with their manager to discuss the feedback and review the report. This provides an opportunity for the developer to ask questions and gain a deeper understanding of the feedback.

Development Plan: Based on the feedback, the tech specialist and their manager develop a plan for their development and growth. The plan may include specific actions, training, implementing new popular IDEs or coaching to help a team member improve in their areas of weakness.

Used by companies: 85% of Fortune 500 companies

Self-review

The 60s were all about that personal approach — that’s exactly when self-appraisal replaced the regular performance review. A self-review allows team members to reflect on and assess their own performance. This type of evaluation can be done on a regular basis — annually or semi-annually, and can be used to identify areas of strength and areas for improvement.

The self-review process typically involves completing a self-assessment form that asks the team member to rate their performance against specific job responsibilities and expectations. The tech specialist may also be asked to provide comments and examples to support their ratings.

The self-review can be a valuable tool for team members to reflect on their work, set goals for future growth, and communicate their achievements to their manager. It can also help to increase team engagement and motivation by giving them a sense of ownership over their performance and development.

A self-review should be complemented by a developer manager’s performance review to provide a more comprehensive and objective assessment of their performance.

Balanced Scorecard

The Balanced Scorecard approach was introduced by the Harvard professors Drs. Kaplan and Norton, and became a raging success in the business management world of 1992. This approach provides a well-rounded view of the developer’s performance and helps to ensure that all relevant aspects of their role are considered.

Perspectives: The model consists of four perspectives: financial, customer, internal processes, and learning and growth. The four perspectives provide a comprehensive view of an individual or team's performance and its impact on the overall success of the company.

Objectives and Key Results: Within each perspective, specific objectives and key results (OKRs) are established to measure progress and success. The company's entire strategy should be in line with the objectives, which should be clear, measurable, and attainable.

Performance Metrics: Specific performance metrics are established for each objective and the key result. The metrics should be quantifiable and data-driven, and should reflect the impact of the objectives.

Performance Tracking: Regular tracking of performance against the objectives and key results is important to ensure progress is being made and to identify areas for improvement.

Feedback and Adjustments: Managers should provide feedback to the tech team based on performance monitoring, and adjust goals and objectives as needed to ensure success.

Used by companies: Apple, Microsoft Latin America.

Performance review calibration

Adjusting performance reviews helps to reduce subjectivity and bias in performance evaluations, increase transparency and fairness, and improve the accuracy of performance assessments, which can ultimately lead to improved team performance and satisfaction.

Developer performance review management training

Companies train managers on how to effectively use performance evaluation tools, how to provide constructive feedback, and how to make fair and objective evaluations.

Aligning individual evaluations with organizational goals

This involves ensuring that the evaluations of individual team members align with the overall goals and objectives of the company.

Conducting calibration sessions

In these sessions, managers come together to review and discuss their evaluations and make any necessary adjustments to ensure consistency and fairness across the organization.

Benefits of performance evaluation for business

Track project progress with performance reviews

Regular performance reviews help to identify areas for improvement and provide developers with feedback and coaching to help them perform better. This can lead to improved code quality, fewer bugs, and a better user experience for customers.

Software developer performance reviews provide an opportunity for devs to discuss their goals and objectives with their manager, and to align these with the goals of the project. This helps to ensure that developers are working towards the overall success of the project and lets the company know if they plan on quitting software engineering.

Developer’s performance review provides a forum for open and honest communication between developers and their managers, helping to build trust and improve the overall relationship between the developer and the project team. They hold team members accountable for their performance and encourage them to take responsibility, leading to increased motivation and a greater sense of ownership over their work.

Reviews also give data and insights into the strengths and weak areas of individual developers, which can inform project planning and ensure that the right people are assigned to the right tasks. This data will be helpful when the company considers scaling tech teams.

Performance review for developers metrics

There are several metrics that can be used to evaluate the performance of a software engineer. Here are examples of performance review methodology your company can use:

Code quality

This can be measured by using code review metrics, such as the number of code defects, the frequency of code review feedback, and the speed of code review completion.

Project completion rate

The software engineer's ability to complete projects on time and to meet project requirements. You can track the number of completed tasks and the percentage of projects completed on time as a part of tech team deadline management.

Customer satisfaction

Measure the satisfaction of customers or users with the software engineer's work. You can gather customer feedback through surveys or by tracking customer support requests.

Technical skills

The software engineer's technical knowledge and ability to apply that knowledge in their work. You can evaluate their technical skills through code review, technical assessments, and skill-building exercises.

Collaboration and communication

The software engineer's ability to work effectively with others, including their communication skills and ability to contribute to team discussions.

Continuous learning and development

The developer's commitment to learning and development, including their participation in training and professional development opportunities.

Productivity

This metric measures the software engineer's output, including the number of lines of code written, the number of features implemented, and the number of bugs fixed.

Keep in mind that these metrics are just tools and should be used as part of a comprehensive performance evaluation. The most effective performance evaluations also consider qualitative factors such as the software engineer's attitude, work ethic, and ability to work well with others.

Software engineer performance review example

Subject: Performance Review for [Software Engineer Name]

Date: [Date of Review]

Objectives:

To provide feedback on [Software Engineer Name]'s performance over the past [time period]
To identify strengths and areas for improvement
To set performance goals for the upcoming [time period]

Strengths:

[Software Engineer Name] has consistently demonstrated a strong commitment to code quality, consistently producing high-quality code that meets project requirements.
[Software Engineer Name] has consistently met project deadlines, contributing to the successful completion of multiple projects.
[Software Engineer Name] has a positive attitude and is a valuable member of the team, collaborating effectively with others and providing valuable input in team discussions.

Areas for Improvement:

[Software Engineer Name] could benefit from providing more detailed comments in their code and writing clearer documentation for users.
[Software Engineer Name] could benefit from more actively seeking out opportunities for continuous learning and professional development.

Performance Goals:

To improve documentation skills, provide detailed comments in code and writing clearer documentation for users.

To actively seek out opportunities for continuous learning and professional development, such as attending conferences or taking online courses.

Action Plan:

[Software Engineer Name] will receive training on effective documentation practices, including code commenting and user documentation.
[Software Engineer Name] will be encouraged to attend at least one industry conference or take an online course in the next [time period].

Conclusion:

[Software Engineer Name] has been a valuable member of the team, consistently demonstrating a strong commitment to code quality and meeting project deadlines. By focusing on improving their documentation skills and actively seeking out opportunities for learning and development, [Software Engineer Name] has the potential to continue to grow and develop as a software engineer.

This, like many other software engineer performance review examples, is a common assessment of skills and overall communication. Each company can have its own metric, variations of 360-degree or software engineer peer review example.

The HR of it all

Performance reviews for software developers are an important tool for managing staff performance and growth within an organization. Conducting these assessments by a tech lead with the help of a professional HR team typically is the most practical decision. The later have the necessary expertise to ensure systematic meetings with solid frameworks, while tech leads enjoy what they love most, the tech part.

HR teams ensure that the engineering performance review process is consistent and standardized across the organization. This helps to minimize possible bias, and ensure that all team members are evaluated fairly and objectively.

FAQ

  1. How to run a successful software engineer performance review?

    Running a successful performance review for software engineers requires careful preparation, effective communication, and a growth-oriented approach. Your People Ops team needs to know how to create a supportive atmosphere, that encourages software engineers to openly share their thoughts and actively listen to understand the feedback.

  2. How to ensure a good performance evaluation process?

    Establish clear policies and procedures for the performance evaluation process to ensure consistency and fairness. This could include guidelines on how often evaluations should be conducted, how the evaluation form should be used, and what the appeal process is. Encourage tech leads and HR staff to view performance evaluations as a tool for continuous improvement and retention, rather than just a yearly event.

  3. What are the key elements to make a good performance review?

    The review should be based on objective data and specific, observable behaviors, rather than personal opinions or subjective interpretations. It also should focus on identifying areas for improvement and setting goals for future development, rather than just criticizing the developer’s past performance.

Kateryna is a wordsmith with a knack for creating engaging narratives, whether it is an article about administrative hiring routine or domain-related coding skills. She crafts content helping businesses find the perfect talent fit. Through writing, she enjoys exploring new trends dominating in the tech space.

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