How to Run an Effective Performance Review for Engineers 

It’s that time of year again – time for performance reviews. Both managers and employees stress over reviews. They take up a lot of time, cause anxiety and have actually been shown to de-motivate employees. So, what can you dto run an effective performance review for your engineers?  

Performance Review Do’s and Don’ts 

If you want to run effective performance reviews for engineers, keep in mind do’s and don’ts.  


  • Hold your feedback all year: Feedback is only beneficial when provided in realtime. Waiting until December to talk about something that happened in June is ineffective. 
  • Grade” engineers:  Think back to your school days. If you brought home a report card will all “As” and one “D,” where was everyone’s focus? The D. Don’t score employees because they can get hung up on one bad score, negatively impacting their morale and further damaging performance. Use plain language in performance reviews to describe both opportunities for improvement and areas of excellence.   
  • Discuss matters not scoped out in the review: During reviews, managers need to stay focused on the topic at hand and not stray into other matters. A poorly-thought remark can spell big HR trouble. Also avoid phrases that can be construed as personal, gender, age or racial attacks. For example, you would never want to say something like, “You probably have been more focused on your family than work.”  
  • Use the time to discipline: Do not dole out disciplinary action during a performance review as this can put you in hot water with HR. Stick to the scope of the review only. 


  • Conduct reviews more than once a year: Annual performance reviews are ineffective. You can boost performance by holding quarterly mini-reviews. These will help engineers focus on making and sustaining real improvements.  
  • Use D.I.S.: When offering feedback, it should be direct, immediate and specific (D.I.S.). Providing this type of feedback in realtime ensures there will be no surprises in a performance review.  
  • Practice consistency in fairness during the process – Every employee must be subject to the same review process. Not only does this ensure compliance, but it also builds trust among employees.  
  • Discuss the future:  Discussing an engineer’s future goals and plans helps them feel more engaged in the process.  
  • Set goals: Every review should include a goal-setting session, so engineers know what to focus on for their next review.  
  • Make it a conversation: Don’t talk at your engineers. Allow them to contribute to a two-way conversation. To promote a conversation, say things like, “this is what I see; how do you see it?”  End each review by asking what type of support the engineer needs to reach their newly-defined goals.  

Looking For More Advice On Building Great Engineering Teams?  

If you are looking for full-time or contract engineering or technical talent, PEAK Technical Staffing can help. Contact us today to learn more about the ways we can help you build and retain successful teams.  



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