If you feel your career in software industry has been stagnated for last few years in spite of giving your best, here are few tips that might help you to break that cycle.
You have been busy writing awesome code and are somehow thinking that if you work 16 hrs a day for few years, your promotion is guaranteed. You think you can tell all about how you burnt midnight oil for entire year and impress your manager. During annual review, you then get shocked to hear that your performance is not considered exemplary.
So what’s going on? Are you just happened to be unlucky ?
Well, no. It is just that you do not have enough insight into things that really matter.
Understand what goes on in annual review cycle: Annual review cycle focusses on two aspects viz. business impact of your work and future potential. It does not matter how many hours you worked or how many lines of code you have written. Employees who have demonstrated significant business outcome will be rewarded handsomely.
Understand impact of your work: Before you sign up for work, estimate the impact of your work on customers and partners. Sometimes this is not obvious. Ask questions to your manager and product manager and get data on business impact. Ask questions like “what is most important priorities for business this year” and “Am I working on one or more of these priorities”. If the answer to latter question is no, then you should consider moving onto most important opportunities.
Take charge: It is not uncommon these days to have ambiguous requirements. If these requirements are not clarified upfront, it results in rework, delays and unsatisfied customer. Engineers often tend to play victim role in such a case and blame it on ambiguous requirements. Instead of playing victim, you must take ownership of feature and run with it. You can have meetings, pull in subject matter experts and clarify requirements before even you begin coding. Communicate the outcomes of these meetings to all stakeholders.
Have frequent demos: Keep a channel open with consumer of your code. You must frequently demo your work to them at regular intervals to get regular feedback and incorporate it in next iteration. This will help you align with customers and avoid nasty surprises at the end of the project. At the end of the day, customer feedback is most important piece that will earn you good reviews.Measure business impact: You must be able to quantify business impact of your work. If you are writing a typical SaaS application, increase in engagement, traffic, Monthly Active Users (MAU) through AB testing is crucial. This will help you change the course and fail fast if necessary.Have frequent 1:1 : Annual review cycle is conducted once a year. You must have at least once a month 1:1 meeting with your manager that focusses only on your career growth. Ask questions like “how am i doing so far?”, “is there anything different I should be doing?”. This will help you regular feedback from you manager and adjust your work to maximize impact.
Keep learning: One of the most important aspect that gets discussed in annual reviews is future potential of the employee. In fact more stock options are offered to employees who exhibit great future potential and can learn fast. In software world, technology keep changing rapidly. Learn new technologies like data science, cloud services and keep your portfolio diverse. Demonstrate your expertise by creating prototypes. Do not wait for your manager to approve the trainings if its taking long. These days lot of online video sites like pluralsight, udemy offer excellent courses at reasonable price. Go ahead and learn it in your spare time.
Performance review is two way street. A Manager also need to take actions to ensure unbiased and honest review. If you are a manager, then you can read those action items here.
About Author Evergreen Technologies:
Active in teaching online courses in Computer vision , Natural Language Processing and SaaS system developmentOver 20 years of experience in fortune 500 companies
•Linked in: @evergreenllc2020
•Udemy: Evergreen Technologies