Preparing for Performance Reviews

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As a software engineer, performance reviews play a crucial role in assessing your professional growth and determining future opportunities within your organisation. To ensure a successful review process, it is essential to proactively identify key areas of focus, seek out opportunities to showcase your skills, and document your accomplishments.

Preparing for the review

  1. Identify key performance criteria
  2. Seek opportunities to work in the key areas
  3. Document your impact in the key areas
  4. Demonstrating your impact in each key area

Identify key performance criteria

Before entering the review process, it is important to set yourself up for success by first defining what a successful outcome means for you. Have a conversation with your manager about your desired next role and the type of work you are looking to do.

Examine the position description for the role at your current level and the position description for the role at your desired level to identify the different responsibilities, behaviours, and impacts required of the next role. These will become the key areas to focus on as you look to develop your skills and demonstrate them as you work towards your next performance review.

Some examples: "Demonstrates knowledge of event-driven serverless architecture", "Demonstrates ability to deliver cross-functional software projects", or "Provides mentoring for junior team members".

If your workplace uses KPIs or, preferrably, OKRs, use these key areas to help define goals that will track your progress. This will help you double-down on your documentation and provide even more evidence for your impact during the review process.

Seek opportunities to work in the key areas

Having identified the key areas required for your next role, take the opportunity to discuss with your manager any opportunities that may be available to work on projects that align with these development goals.

Actively seek out opportunities within your team to gain experience and expertise in these domains. Volunteer for projects or tasks that allow you to demonstrate your skills and contribute to the success of your team. Collaborating on cross-functional teams, taking the lead on challenging tasks, writing documentation, or participating in professional development programmes can also help you broaden your skill set and make an impact in the identified areas.

Example: Offering to pair with junior team members to demonstrate having an impact in a key area of "mentoring junior team members".

Document your impact in the key areas

While working on projects and assignments that are aligned with your key development areas, it is crucial to document your contributions and the impact they have had on the organisation. Keep a record of the tasks you have undertaken, the challenges you have overcome, and the outcomes you have achieved. This documentation will serve as evidence of your ability to deliver results and showcase your value to the company. Quantifiable metrics, such as improved efficiency, cost savings, or customer satisfaction ratings, can significantly strengthen your case during the performance review.

Example: Key Area: Project Leadership: Demonstrated project leadership by facilitating a delivery planning session and developing a roadmap including delivery milestones, dates, and dependencies. Documented this plan and communicated the decisions with the project stakeholders.

Setting aside time at the end of each week, month, or sprint to regularly check in and document your work will make it easy to keep this information up-to-date and comprehensive.

Demonstrating your impact in each key area of your next role

During your performance review, you will likely be evaluated based on the specific requirements and responsibilities of the role you have nominated for your promotion.

To effectively demonstrate your readiness for the additional responsibilities, you can present evidence that demonstrates how you have been working across the key areas and have been able to fulfil each of the requirements of the role, using one or more examples of recent work that showcase your capabilities.

Following this pattern for each of the requirements for your desired role, you will place yourself in the best position for the performance review.

By delivering work aligned with the key areas of your desired role, actively seeking opportunities to develop your skills, and documenting these achievements, you can effectively showcase your impact with the organisation as a software engineer and position yourself as the perfect example of a candidate for your desired role.