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7 Must-Try Performance Review Tools for Engineering Teams

Performance review tools for engineering teams improve communication, trust, problem-solving skills, and the quality of feedback.

By Kate Dagher  •   September 9, 2022  •   7 min read

Software engineer performance reviews are a way of providing employees with an evaluation of their work during a specific period—whether it be weekly, monthly, quarterly, or bi-annually. If you want to facilitate an effective performance review, it’s essential that you be organized and well prepared, and set clear expectations for the review. In episode 25 of our Supermanagers podcast, Lenny Rachitsky, former Product Lead at Airbnb, shares:

“I find that it’s really important to just take some time, whether it’s every six months or every year, to just zoom out. And as a manager, look at the person’s career and where it’s going. And what went well over the past six months and what didn’t go well. And I don’t know how you do that without a performance review plan.” 

The aim of any performance review is to deliver feedback that is fair, to build trust, and to motivate your team to achieve great things. To accomplish these things, you need a solid plan. There are several performance review tools for engineering teams that can help boost the productivity and efficiency of these performance review meetings. This article will explore the best performance review tools for engineering teams and provide you with some performance review best practices so you feel confident going into your performance review meetings, every single time. 

Best performance review tools for engineering teams 

1Fellow 

Fellow is a meeting management tool that is designed for teams to enable them to have productive team meetings and meaningful one-on-ones, build collaborative meeting agendas, record decisions, and keep each other accountable. Fellow is rated the number one meeting management software on G2 and is loved by leading engineering companies. This tool drives engagement and productivity before, during, and after every meeting. Fellow’s 360 degree feedback reviews feature is especially effective for engineering performance reviews because it provides a clear reflection of how your direct report is doing. You can use Fellow’s 360 degree feedback tool to customize the questions for each group, send out the requests, then have all the feedback gathered in one place for easy review. Fellow even integrates with a multitude of tools like Gmail, Slack, Jira, Zapier, Zoom, and more.

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2Effy.ai

Effy.ai is a people management tool that is especially suited for fast-growing teams that rely on effective performance reviews. This software has advanced functions that are made for analyzing performance and progress made, which makes it effective for completing the software engineer performance review cycle. Because Effy.ai offers automated review cycles, it’s close to impossible to miss a performance review, so you can stay organized and on top of things. This tool lets you select specific and personalized review periods—like after a project is completed, at the end of employee probation, or on work anniversaries (annually). Alternatively, you can select a frequency of three, six, nine, or twelve months for the performance review to recur. 

3BambooHR

BambooHR is an end-to-end, multipurpose HR management software. Performance reviews are just one of the various functions that are available with this tool. It promotes honest feedback through its peer review function, allowing several individuals to partake in the review process and make the performance review more accurate and honest. BambooHR creates detailed performance review reports that capture high performers, underperformers, and comparisons of employee performance, all while tracking progress on an individual and organizational level. Leaders can also add review notes that are built directly into the reports to provide even more detailed feedback.  

4Trakstar

Trakstar simplifies the performance management and employee review processes by fully automating them. This tool allows companies to customize reports, offering customizable templates and a self-review function and making the review process more personalized. Having automatic email reminders and a display of outstanding action items helps ensure that managers are reminded to deliver employee reviews on time. This performance review tool also has a 360-degree feedback feature, allowing all parties involved with the employee to contribute to their appraisal. Trakstar shares comprehensive and alluring analytics, using real-time data to help identify how an employee is performing with accuracy. It can even identify rater biases and top performers, as well as track performance history. 

5Small Improvements

Small Improvements is another performance management tool that boasts many attractive features for engineering teams. Not only does it provide a 360-degree feedback feature, send automated reminders, and support goal setting, but it also has the ability to administer organization-wide pulse surveys that gather valuable data that help to improve engineering performance reviews. You can integrate this tool with other ones (like Gmail and Slack) to optimize your productivity and organization. 

6PerformYard

PerformYard has several different HR functions, with a major one being the employee review process. This management tool allows you to set an effective review schedule with a personalized format based on the team or the employee under review. Both employees and management receive automated email reminders so the organization ensures that all parties involved are completing the review cycle on time. The review process with PerformYard is more simplified than in other tools, which allows employees to focus on feedback and work towards their goals. With PerformYard, you can assign customer success managers for every customer so you can manage them from onboarding to training and provide continuous support. 

7Lattice

Lattice is another performance management platform that is effective for conducting engineering team performance reviews. If you and your organization are looking to place a strong emphasis on learning and development, this tool is likely well suited for you. It presents leaders with insights that they can act on, conveying areas for improvement and highlighting opportunities. You can create customized reviews and focus on goal setting so you can support your employees in achieving their highest aspirations, while aligning them with organizational goals. You can also offer 360-degree feedback as well as self-reviews. 

Engineering teams performance review best practices 

1Remain unbiased

Your comments and feedback are only going to be valuable to your team members if they’re fair and truthful. Put personal judgements and any unconscious bias aside and really consider the employee’s work output and attitude. Even if you’re reviewing an employee who has made several mistakes over the last few months, focus on why these mistakes were made and how you can support the employee in getting to where they need to be in their position. Be careful to avoid recency bias, which is focusing on a mistake that was made recently but forgetting about all of the great work that has been done in the past. Eliminate any kinds of gender, age, and cultural biases to rise as an equitable and fair leader who is focused on uplifting their employees. 

2Acknowledge achievements 

Ensure that you’re taking adequate time to focus on and to congratulate employees on their achievements. There is nothing more discouraging and disappointing than sitting through a performance review only to hear about areas that you need to improve in and goals that you need to hit, without the acknowledgement of the hard work that you’ve been putting in. When achievements aren’t acknowledged, this often has a negative impact on employee motivation and with the employee’s job satisfaction. Recognition is absolutely essential, so be sure to find a way to recognize the hard work of your employees and to thank them. 

3Provide constructive feedback 

Provide constructive feedback that is actionable. Vague comments like “great work” don’t help employees take specific steps. Unfortunately, it says a lot about a manager if they’re flying through your report and omitting specific feedback, whether it’s positive or constructive. If a performance review has no real sustenance to it, how will your team members learn, grow, and improve? You can’t expect great productivity, efficiency, and results if you’re not helping guide and support employees in achieving their goals. With Fellow, you can give effective, real-time feedback to your employees on meetings, projects, and performances.

4Review OKRs 

Be sure to review objectives and key results (OKRs) before and during your engineering performance review. OKRs are typically ambitious goals that need time and focus to be achieved. This is why it’s important to catch at-risk goals early while there’s still time to fix them, and what better opportunity to flag them than in your engineering performance reviews? With the Objectives tab in Fellow, you can link your objectives with a specific performance review, making it easy to go over progress, resolve challenges, and keep all OKRs on track. 

Free performance review meeting agenda templates

Parting advice 

Performance review tools for engineering teams are extremely effective and prevent one-sided conversations so you can have an effective and meaningful meeting with your direct reports. There are several ways to conduct performance review meetings, so be sure to try different means of conducting them until you find something that is effective for you and your team. Performance review tools ensure all employees receive helpful, detailed, and fair feedback, allow feedback to be on time, and pave a clear path for learning and development opportunities. They really do benefit everyone!

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