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Software Developer Review

​​Red Flags That Indicate Your Team Needs Software Engineer Performance Review - Checklist

If you’ve noticed that your team’s performance is slipping, deadlines are being missed and the end result of your software development efforts is sub-par - a software developer review is overdue! Read the article to find out other signs that indicate you should implement this practice RN.

Valentine Steph
Valentine Steph
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​​Red Flags That Indicate Your Team Needs Software Engineer Performance Review - Checklist
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Software engineer performance review is the most powerful and versatile tool you can use to assess the team’s progress, identify the weak spots, make sure the project is advancing according to the plan and that each employee is progressing on their professional journey.

In the context of digital transformation most companies are currently going through, the only chance for most businesses to keep up is by fundamentally changing the way they operate and deliver value to customers.

In such an environment, the most important asset for any manager or team lead is the people, the skills they bring to the table, and the contribution each team member makes towards the common goal.

There is no better tool to gain insights about your team’s current state than to regularly evaluate their performance and skills and lay down the path for their further professional development.

After all, you’re involved with knowledge workers, and prioritizing their growth is the most effective way to ensure your team stays on top of its game.

Does my team need software engineer performance review?

When it comes to managing a software development team, regularly performing reviews of your employees’ work is an absolute must.

Engineers are not exempt from this rule. Quite the opposite: tech companies cannot function properly without a scalable and robust performance review model.

And let’s be honest here: the execs, stakeholders, and clients your team might need to report to cannot be expected to stay up to date with each team member’s qualifications, skills, and responsibilities.

It takes someone who is both personally familiar with the team, and technically proficient enough to understand what they’re talking about, in order to bridge the gap between software engineers and upper management.

But how can you tell if performance evaluation is due? Here is a handy list of the most common signs you need to be on a lookout for:

  • Your team doesn't meet deadlines or creates low-value products
  • Team members show signs of developer burnout
  • Your company doesn't have a transparent developer roadmap
  • The lack of feedback culture

Let’s take a closer look at these problems a software development team might experience.

Your team doesn't meet deadlines or creates low-value products

As far as red flags go, this is definitely the biggest and the brightest of the bunch.

If you’ve noticed that your team’s performance is slipping, deadlines are being missed and the end result of your software development efforts is sub-par - a developer performance evaluation is overdue!

Most performance-related issues like this can be traced back to either developers or managers.

What’s important here? To identify the real reason for poor performance.

The devs might:

  • lack some crucial skills or tools
  • be caught up in too much busywork
  • feel stressed
  • spend lots of time reviewing code

The managers might:

  • distract the team and force them to multitask
  • set unclear goals and expectations
  • set deadlines that are too strict and unrealistic
  • fail to provide enough job security and satisfaction to a dev team

Solution: The real reason for poor performance of a software development team can be identified with a proper review. It helps identify the skill gaps of the team and build development programs, both for managers and engineers.

Team members show signs of developer burnout

Maintaining employee satisfaction is an extremely important, yet often overlooked, aspect of managing a team.

Engineers are particularly prone to burnout and you, as a manager, need to fight the cynicism and procrastination that often stem from burnout.

Frequently touching base with your employees is the best way to keep track of their mental and emotional well-being.

This, in turn, will increase their productivity and engagement, and leave you with a happier, faster, more efficient team. After all, it’s a known fact that developer happiness directly influences the quality of code they produce.

The cruel irony of developer burnout is that the most dedicated, productive, and emotionally invested employees, the fabled 20%, are at the highest risk of burning out.

What’s important here? The goal of a good manager is to catch the early signs of developer burnout (find them in our blog post here) and prevent developers from chronic stress.

Solution: Constructive feedback from a team helps prevent developer burnout and solves many of the problems leading to it. During a well-organized and unbiased review, they can get support from their peers and management, find their professional weaknesses and help deal with challenging tasks.

Your company doesn't have clear career paths

A good balance between a rigid structure and a free creative environment is something all managers dream of.

Sadly, the reality is more complex than that.

  • Oftentimes, team members can find themselves lost in the company’s structure
  • Employees don’t possess a clear understanding of various positions within the company, and how they can advance to a new level
  • Many managers mistakenly base promotions on how much time an employee has spent with the company

What’s important here? Unfortunately, this approach leads to a situation where initiative, skills, and productivity aren’t rewarded.

Solution: This is where a timely performance review can help.

Implementing a schedule of performance reviews and conducting them properly can help solve these issues.

At the very least, it will allow your company to make educated decisions about promotions (and demotions!) and help you build the necessary skill development programs for your coders and software engineers.

Doing so puts you in a position where each developer knows exactly where they stand at the moment, how they can advance up the career ladder, and which skills they should be focused on developing.

The lack of feedback culture

Software developers, by nature of their profession, can be quite isolated from the rest of the company.

What’s important here? Remote work and isolation leave employees with no opportunity:

  • to provide constructive feedback to their peers and to their managers
  • to get feedback on their own performance
  • to receive pointers for further growth and professional development

Solution: This problem can be solved with regular performance reviews.

By making sure your employees have a chance to talk to each other about their performance and the current state of the team, you can nurture a feedback culture within your company.

If your developers can be frank with each other about their skills, the issues they’re facing in their day-to-day, and their thoughts about the company in general, they will also be more comfortable discussing this with you and other managers.

By framing 360-degree reviews as feedback instead of critique, you can ensure your team is always on the same page.

Benefits of software engineer performance review

Benefits of software engineer performance review
Benefits of software engineer performance review

So, why is​ a software developer review good?

  • improves team performance
  • increases developer engagement
  • helps make decisions about promotion transparent
  • helps build skill development programs

All the issues stated above can be solved by holding regular performance reviews for members of your team.

A simple feedback session can go a long way towards ensuring your team is moving in the right direction and each developer is content and productive.

And if you do it properly, and also include self-assessment and peer review, you may rest assured your team is set up for success!

Here is what a performance evaluation can do for a software development team if it’s done right and on time:

Improves team performance

It doesn’t matter whether you’re chasing KPIs, deadlines, or stakeholder approval -- carrying out regular performance reviews is guaranteed to improve your team’s performance, no matter how you measure it.

And it’s not just about providing feedback and giving pointers.

An annual performance evaluation is a perfect opportunity:

  • to reward the overachievers and warn the slackers
  • to provide extra incentive
  • to give encouragement to the team

It’s a chance for your employees to reflect on their own performance and the performance of their peers in a healthy, proactive manner. It’s your opportunity to catch and fix any arising issues early and make sure they don’t grow to become a proper roadblock further down the line.

Increases developer engagement

Regular performance checks are highly beneficial for the developers themselves.

Providing your team of software engineers and coders with a better understanding of the company’s goals, priorities, and challenges will help them orient themselves accordingly and increase their engagement.

An engaged, dedicated employee is the most valuable resource for any tech company. That’s how you get your best insights, ideas, and initiatives from within.

On top of that, by giving your developers a chance to do some reflection and write a self-evaluation report, you provide them with an opportunity to stop and think about their own place within the company.

The better your team understands the bigger picture, the higher their morale and engagement will be.

Helps make decisions about promotion transparent

Another benefit of staying on top of your performance reviews is being able to spot golden opportunities to promote from within.

By doing so, you can bring up someone who really embodies the DNA of the company, and avoid the friction and the costs associated with ramping up someone from the outside.

Regularly reviewing the performance of your development team will put you in a position where you know the strengths and weaknesses of each software engineer in your team and will allow you to act accordingly.

But as far as making promotion decisions, your best guide is the peer reviews your team members write. These reviews provide you with valuable data about what each employee is like to work with, where they stand with the rest of the team and whether they’re seen as a leader or a liability by their team.

Helps build skill development programs

The importance of training your employees and providing them with the space, time, and opportunities to grow is hard to overestimate.

Training your team and keeping them in the loop becomes even more important as your company evolves and implements new systems, strategies, and processes.

The best possible way to ensure your software development team is properly onboarded and tuned in with the rest of the company is by conducting timely performance reviews.

And it goes both ways! It can sometimes feel like the software developers and engineers speak a language of their own and work on problems way outside of the management team’s technical knowledge.

In that sense, receiving self-evaluation reports and feedback from the employees is incredibly important.

Improves relationships

Last, but not least, regular performance evaluations of coders, developers, and software engineers in your team will allow you to strengthen relationships and ensure your employees’ loyalty.

Consider your regular performance review as a chance to get some one-on-one time with each member of the team, to talk to them in-depth about things you don’t usually discuss publicly, to get up close and personal.

Use this opportunity to praise good performance and reward hard work, to listen to any complaints or concerns, to answer questions, and provide advice.

Key ideas

At the end of the day, you can’t argue against the necessity of thorough, timely, and consistent performance reviews for teams of software engineers, developers, and coders.

Calling performance evaluations one of the most powerful and robust instruments in every manager’s toolbox is not an overstatement either. The only cost is the time you spend talking to each team member, but the benefits are great:

  • Better productivity and a higher quality of the end-product your team delivers
  • Higher job satisfaction and employee retention rate
  • More opportunities for promotions, encouragement, and incentives
  • Increased developer engagement, more fresh ideas, and constructive feedback from the team
  • Better relationships within the team and improved mental and emotional wellbeing of your devs

Now that we got you convinced, it’s time to get to the brass tacks. How do you best conduct software engineer performance reviews? How do you write self-evaluations? And what about the peer reviews? What is the best schedule for a performance review? Stay tuned to learn all of this and more in our upcoming post.

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