June 12, 2022
20 min read

How To Create an Effective Software Engineer Performance Review?

A quality software engineer performance review routine is the most powerful and adaptable tool in the arsenal of every engineering team lead and manager.

Performance reviews are an excellent method you can use to make sure your team members are on the right way towards the organizational goals. Continuous feedback lets you assess their work habits and helps them identify the gaps they should work on. However, offering valuable feedback takes a lot of time, especially when you create everything by hand.

Keeping track of the goals, analyzing their progress and creating statistics are just three of the most commonly encountered time-consuming tasks you as a team leader have to perform to come up with relevant feedback. Thanks to cutting-edge technology, you can now enjoy software-assisted review cycles and save hours of work.


  1. How to write actionable performance review for software engineers?
  2. How does the performance review process for developers work?
  3. Performance review tools for software engineers
  4. Three things to consider about software engineer performance reviews
  5. 5 essential steps to evaluate software developers
  6. FAQ: Software engineer performance review

How to write actionable performance review for software engineers?

Being able to identify the operational gaps in your company's workflow and offering clear instructions about how each individual should proceed to ensure maximum efficiency requires a lot of knowledge. First things first, you must always decide which standards should be considered during the performance review process.

Software engineers involved in the software development process need great performance reviews. This will help them enjoy effective professional growth from one performance evaluation to another.

Many tech companies (including companies that accept cryptocurrency as payment) overlook the importance of actionable feedback. Therefore, an engineering manager usually comes up with low-quality feedback related to their whole team due to poor communication.

Including careful consideration and offering actionable information are two of the critical details that must be included in problem-solving feedback. Many managers evaluate only the surface of their engineering teams. At the same time, they forget to include specific examples of how software developers could improve their performance.

How does the performance review process for developers work?

When evaluating an individual's performance you should always plan ahead and take advantage of the 360-degree feedback approach. This method gives you complete control over the review cycle and allows you to identify low performers more easily (depending on your organization's size).

360-degree reviews offer your employee a different perspective on their strengths and weaknesses while also giving them clear instructions about their areas for improvement. Many engineering managers in enterprise-level companies make use of this approach to ensure they always come up with unbiased feedback about software engineers.

The circular performance review process includes three distinct segments, as follows:

  • manager's evaluation;
  • peer reviews (feedback from other team members);
  • self-review (commonly referred to as self-appraisal).

Manager's evaluation

Any software engineer performance review must include relevant feedback from their direct manager. Using the list of critical competencies included in their job description, software development engineers should follow a set of crucial aspects.

For example, if you are the team leader of a game developing department and a software developer is hired to optimize the overall code quality, one of the main competencies they should have is called problem-solving. Therefore, at the end of each review cycle, you can quickly assess how did that team member manage to resolve the encountered issues.

Their performance is not necessarily based on whether they did resolve the problem, but rather how did they fix the problem. One major issue is that most companies focus on the final objective of their departments. However, being performant does not equal being able to fulfill a goal.

You should continually evaluate your subordinates in a circular way, by including their approach towards work, their actions and methods applied, and the fulfillment of the organizational goals. Of course, it makes sense only if your company uses a highly optimized workflow.

Peer feedback

Software engineers are usually part of more complex internal and external teams. Therefore, an effective software engineer performance review should include their strengths and weaknesses based on their colleagues' perspectives.

You can ask other team members to provide feedback (either public feedback or anonymous feedback). After gathering feedback from all the relevant peers, make sure you analyze all the peer reviews. Some are more advanced, while others are newbies to your team.

However, they all have different perspectives and knowledge about enjoying professional growth. Yet, please note that public feedback may also affect the team’s overall performance, depending on how well do your team members get along with each other. Biased feedback is always a risk that should be minimized using different leadership methods.

Positive reviews are not always good feedback. Negative feedback also has its own role for a particular software engineer. Peer reviews help you get a better understanding of how exactly does the software development engineer manages to work inside the team.

Seniors that are part of the workflow can also help you with effective code reviews that will help you identify methods to fulfill particular needs in matters of training.

What is more, other engineers are great feedback sources because they speak a similar language. Engineering managers may not be experts in all the coding languages used in a particular team. Therefore, a senior can be the one that takes the initiative inside the team and comes up with a relevant review about how a particular junior does their job.


A self-review is the most complicated one. Think about the last time someone asked you to evaluate your performance. Making sure you are as objective as possible is a challenging task. However, self-feedback is an excellent way of ensuring your software engineers are as self-aware as possible. Software engineers require many technical skills but ensuring customer satisfaction takes more than that.

When it comes to asking someone to evaluate their performance, one thing you might want to take into account is that criteria are your best friend. Like any phase of the software engineer performance review, personal feedback should be objective and relevant.

Performance review tools for software engineers

Performance review software tools are digital applications that allow business owners and team leaders to conduct reviews of their subordinates. There are many such tools available on the market. Each performance review software comes with its advantages and disadvantages, so choosing the one that works best for you and your company is a matter of comparison.

Such tools have proved very useful for teams aiming at the highest levels of efficiency. To get a better understanding of how exactly a performance review software works, our experts have included a brief description of one of the most popular applications in this field.  

Developer performance review examples


Effy.ai is a People Management Tool designed for rapidly-growing teams that rely on effective performance reviews. This software is commonly used to complete the software engineer performance review cycle, thanks to its advanced functions meant to analyze performance and progress.

Performance reviews are commonly planned ahead of time and are included in more complex review cycles. Thanks to the automated review cycles, you can now rest assured knowing you will not miss a performance review in your team's workflow.

The application lets you choose between different periods of performance feedback (3, 6, 9 or 12 months). What is more, you get to choose between distinct personalized review periods, such as on the end of employee probation, on the anniversary of work (yearly) or based on different project results (such as revision or completion).

Automated review cycles

When it comes to peer performance feedback and self-review, people tend to snooze them until the last minute. Using the integrated progress tracker, you can easily send reminders to all the employees that did not complete their self-assessments. Sending a follow-up message can generate new ideas about self-assessments, so it is best to make sure your employees put their best effort into evaluating their performance.

The available integrations allow your employees to avoid working with too many software tools. For example, you can either connect your Slack database and send a performance review request in there or ask your subordinates to type their feedback about a particular colleague in the comments section.

What is more, Microsoft Teams can also be connected to your Effy.ai workspace. This way, any software engineer performance review cycle will be easily completed without having to worry about time wasted checking up on different software applications.

Rapidly-deployable surveys for self-reviews

One great way of making sure any software engineer can come up with relevant and objective feedback about their own performance is to include surveys in their assessment. This way, you can set up the key competencies and fields that should be included in any software engineer performance review.

Software development requires particular knowledge about certain technical activities. Therefore, having a subordinate rating their cooking skills in a job-related review is not necessarily good. Using the surveys, you can make sure only relevant competencies are included in the review and your employees do their job as effectively as they are expected to.

Three things to consider about software engineer performance reviews

When evaluating a software engineer's performance, it is essential to keep in mind five distinct aspects. Using these pieces of advice, you will be able to guide your subordinates towards success and ensure your company reaches the highest levels in matters of efficiency.

Be objective and unbiased. Feedback is valuable only if it is true. Forget about what that employee did when you met them at the golf club and focus only on what matters for the project. However, if they did a great job during the past months but made some mistakes during the past week, that does not necessarily mean they are not qualified for the job. Maybe they need a break or are unsure what path to go on with a particular task.

Peer performance reviews are crucial. What your colleagues have to say about you essentially concludes your work performance. Therefore, make sure you always give people the chance to tell what they think about a particular team member. Maybe there is something that you have overlooked during the past period and should be immediately addressed.

Include a written version. Conducting a 1-on-1 meeting is an excellent way of telling people what they did great and what they did wrong. However, some employees prefer to re-read everything by themselves and determine what changes they should do. Therefore, always make sure you send out written versions of the cyclic reviews.

5 Essential steps to evaluate software developers

To keep things as high-quality as possible, here are some of the best tips you should take into account when it comes to evaluating one of your software engineers working in your team.

  • Create an outline - always have a sketch of the meeting so that you can address issues gradually;
  • Use the one-sleep rule - write the review, wait at least 24 hours and then re-read it so that you can make the necessary changes;
  • Look back - discuss 2 or 3 accomplishments from the past year;
  • Look forward - discuss 1 or 2 goals for the following year;
  • Decide the frequency - decide how often you will follow up with another performance review (monthly, quarterly, yearly).

FAQ: Software engineer performance review

What are some good performance goals for a software engineer?

When it comes to software engineering performance reviews, the operational goals should be clear, transparent and objective. One interesting approach you can take advantage of is called S.M.A.R.T. (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic and anchored within a Time Frame). Using these factors, you as a team leader can come up with relevant goals for all the software engineering performance reviews.

How do you evaluate software engineering performance?

Evaluating software engineering requires a lot of knowledge related to the technical field itself, as well as auxiliary knowledge. Coming up with interesting and relevant performance reviews involves correlating positive and negative feedback, as well as including improvement suggestions for the software engineers field.

What should I write in a performance review for developers?

When it comes to writing software engineering performance reviews, you should focus on several key aspects of their job: technical competencies, interpersonal skills, approach towards work and peer reviews. All these factors will help you as a business owner or a team manager to identify the gaps in your subordinate's workflow and guide them towards the solution.

How do you rate a software engineer?

There are many approaches you can take advantage of, depending on your company's business model. Generally, one of the best ways to create relevant performance reviews for software engineers is to assess how they did their job, instead of whether they reached the operational goals.

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