How to manage software engineers performance

Business Development
16 Sep
Stanislav Zayarsky

The Ukrainian market of software export is on the verge of choosing its growth path: quantitative or qualitative. While quantitative path implies price reduction, by hiring freshman engineers, qualitative, on the other hand, is a path of transitioning services to a higher level. 

Software engineering team success depends on the high performance of each individual team member. Thus we work on creating unique solutions for building more efficient teams

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One of Trembit’s core values, which formed the basis of the company’s strategy back in 2009, states as follows:

Continuous Improvementpursues growth and learning. We always strive to improve the process of how we live, work, communicate. Standing still can kill you. Keep learning!”

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We are proud to say that our team, eventually, consists of specialists who share and implement the principle of Continuous Improvement in their everyday job. And most importantly, we actively encourage and support the professional growth of our development teams. In this article, we will share how our internal employee performance management system effectively helps us to provide high-quality services.

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We’ve tested a variety of approaches to performance management (including MBO and OKR) and after a number of experiments, we’ve managed to develop a system that meets all our requirements, thus provides high performance of each individual engineer. The main thing we were looking for was an easy-to-change system that can be upgraded as the company grows and changes, without losing its effectiveness. Meaning flexible and fully manageable system.

We’ve worked to ensure that performance reviews are conducted on a regular basis, at the same time, trying to seamlessly infiltrate it into engineers workflow. Regular performance reviews help to maintain an engineer’s knowledge up to date, to hit the market’s median and to go further. As a result, we kept our focus on a quarterly performance review, complemented by 360 degrees Feedback methodology.

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We’ve divided the performance review process into 4 stages

Stage 1 – a week before the review, engineer receives a survey, including 4 short, but comprehensive questions.

  1. What is my role in a company?
  2. Where did I perform great during past period? 
  3. Where did I performed poorly and could improve?
  4. What do I want to learn during next period?

We value and encourage the self-reflection of our employees and provide them with opportunities for independent analysis of their own results. This increases the involvement of employees and also they get an understanding of how their daily actions affect the final result.

Stage 2 – each and every team member, including Project Manager, is involved in anonymous review of his/her colleague, following Stage 1 criteria. Thanks to such a system, each  employee is motivated to identify every little thing that can be improved, and every obstacle that should be eliminated on the path to high overall result.

Stage 3 – receiving feedback from the customer’s team on the performance of the employee. A customer review is extremely important since it allows to adjust collaboration and provides a clear vision on how to achieve a better result in a faster way.

Stage 4 – is a meeting between the engineer and management team, based on the results of cross-assessment of 360 degrees Feedback methodology, at which we not only discuss the results of the review itself, but also get feedback from the employee.

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This results in PDP (Personal Development Plan), according to which, we set goals for professional development for the next quarter, together with engineer of course.

Worth mentioning that “Hard Skills” is only a part of PDP. We believe that only a “mature” and responsible engineer can deliver. Therefore, “Soft Skills” are an integral part of the development plan, including communication skills, such as the ability to listen, to give constructive feedback, to reach an agreement, to cooperate, to share knowledge and information. Why do we focus not only on technical expertise? Because almost always we deal with distributed teams and the software outsourcing industry suffers from poor communication!

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It is important to note, that in the process of introducing this practice, we met some resistance. However, we smoothly continued to refine the review process in accordance with our “Continuous Improvement” value. In order to avoid team micromanagement, we gave engineers the flexibility to choose how to achieve their goals in self-development. 

However, we kept the weekly “progress check-in” (as a rule, this is a short five-minute conversation with a mentor or technical expert), and this showed the best results.

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Hope this article helps you to improve your software engineers’ team performance review process. If you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to contact us:


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