Why Are Reviews So Important?A performance review in the IT industry is essential. And here are the top reasons why:
Reviews focus not only on the developer's work. The managers should learn more about the person behind the code. And by finding out more about your personality, the company may understand effective ways to motivate you to perform better.
Better relationship. If your review is excellent, it'll build more trust between you and your employer.
A good review will also eventually make your life easier and increase satisfaction. By listening to the challenges you might be experiencing, the manager will find ways to solve them.
Productivity boost. When your team leader gives you constructive feedback, you better understand what is expected from you and try to apply this knowledge in your job. As a result, your productivity increases.
Reviews are intended to clarify your role and goal, thereby improving the organizational structure of your company/project. Levels and expectations need to be well-defined.
Bad Performance ReviewsBefore delving deeper into details, we'd like to briefly speak about the things to avoid in your performance review:
- No specifics. Fluffy sentences are a big no-no. Try to be constructive and short. Yet, don't skip straight to the numbers.
- One-sided review. Try to be as objective as possible so as not to end up with a "one-sided review." Also, avoid details that may be misinterpreted.
- The biased review. There may be many biases, from a recency bias to gender bias. For example, women sometimes try to put more emphasis on their behavior rather than their accomplishments. It's a mistake too.
- "Take me by surprise" review. Don't try to surprise your employer. Good reviews should bring a lot of information but very few surprises.
How To Get Prepared for a ReviewIf you're about to do a performance review, especially if it's your first time, many things can help you leave a good impression.
The PurposeFirst, understand the purpose of your review and review your current goals. Did you set goals in your last review? Have you managed to accomplish them? If yes, which ones have brought you the most satisfaction? Have your priorities already changed? What are reasonable performance goals for a developer in general? The operational plans should be clear, transparent, and objective. When setting the relevant purposes for a review, you can take advantage of the SMART approach (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic, and anchored within a Time Frame).
Highlight AccomplishmentsRemember that a performance review typically takes 45-60 minutes, meaning you'll have less than an hour to talk with your manager. So, don't create long narratives and focus on achievements that grew revenue/cut costs of the company, or upgraded a process. The key is to show how your contributions are valuable for the company". Take note that your supervisor will value the accomplishments more if you connect them to your company's goals. Likewise, it's important to mention any challenges that hinder you from achieving some goals. Finally, you shall tell about things you're doing well and what you can improve or learn.
Co-worker FeedbackBesides focusing on the critical aspects of your job, like technical competencies, you should include interpersonal skills, your approach towards work, and your colleagues' reviews. The people working with you can help you understand your strong/weak points. So, when preparing for the review, you may collect feedback from your co-workers, who can validate your success.
Did You Meet the Expectations?If you have already had some performance reviews and set specific professional goals the last time, now it's high time that you reviewed them and react "why" or "why not"? Naturally, if it's your first review or a new employee, you're likely not to have goals at all. In this case, you should have a clear picture of your responsibilities. Also, you can try to initiate a conversation about your career goals (hello, tip #1)
Show Your "Adaptability"If you face a challenging situation and successfully solve it, it's also a must-have thing to include in your review. It may not even be a coding issue but a physiological one. For example, if you began working remotely during the pandemic, highlight your virtual accomplishments and organizational skills, showing that you didn't "miss a thing and got the job done within tight deadlines."
Get Prepared for a Self-Evaluation PartOnce you have prepared for the steps above, writing a self-assessment before undergoing a review is an excellent idea. Be honest and think of the points you could improve. Don't be afraid to ask your colleagues or a manager for help.
Think about the Outcome of the Review:Get prepared for a fair, unbiased, and clear review. Try to build trust between you and your manager. Wrapping up, you can ask your collocutor to reflect on the review with questions like "How do you feel?" or "What part do you disagree with?". What if they disagree or deliver not-so-positive feedback? Don't play defense and say, "I didn't realize that I was wrong," or "It won't happen again!". Instead, don't make excuses but try to come up with solutions on how you can improve. For example, if you're blamed for being disorganized, you may come up with a time-management strategy or some add-on tools that can help you track your workflow. Last but not least, remember that everybody is different, and some managers prefer more or fewer details. Therefore, adjusting and "adapting" to your manager/boss along the way is quite ok.
When a Review is Over…There are a few more things to close your review off:
- It's better to send over the written review over email. Like in the oral part of your review, first of all, list "what" you've done, "how" you've done it, and your contributions.
- Mention all competencies and provide examples.
- Finalize your written review with a summary of your expectations and future goals (as well as strategies to achieve them).