Software Engineer Performance Review — Goal Examples

In every manager’s position, you’re going to be faced with the dreaded performance reviews. These reviews are often stressful for both the reviewer (you) and the employee, but setting clear goals can help make this process easier. What are some goals you can set for a software engineer?


The best goals to set for your software engineers advance the employee’s career and technical skills. You want to ensure that your employees are always able to learn and to continue learning. The goals and their results should be specific and clear to both you and the employee.


Let’s take a closer look at some of the goals that meet these expectations for a software engineer.


When setting goals as a software engineer, you want to make sure you’re specific. There’s an excellent acronym to use when formulating your goals. Let’s have a look at them:


  • Specific – Always be specific about what the goal applies to.
  • Measurable – Make sure the progress of the goal is measurable.
  • Assignable – Be specific about who the goals are assigned to.
  • Realistic – Goals should always be realistic and attainable through the timeline and materials available.
  • Time-Bound – There should always be a time when the goal should be completed.


Following these guidelines will help you to develop clear goals for not only your employees but also for yourself.

Take on More Responsibility

Taking on more responsibilities is a great goal for employees who you, as their manager, would like to move up within the company. It’s a measurable goal, as you can see how well they handle the new responsibilities. You can also gauge how many new responsibilities they’re able to take on at a time and how well this is improving the other employees’ general workspace.


An example of how to phrase this goal would be “Accept more project responsibilities over the upcoming year.” This could be further specified to include specific areas that the employee will take on more responsibility.

Improve Skills

Improving skills is an excellent goal. Everyone has areas that they aren’t great in—working to improve those shows that they are willing to work on their shortcomings. It’s also a measurable goal to have. You should be able to see how well these skills have improved over the course of the year.


This goal could be worded as “I believe you have room to improve on microservices and cloud computing architecture which are the new tendency in the industry” Of course, this can get further broken down into something that works directly with the employee. Use a skill that will be especially helpful to their overall growth as a software engineer.

Get Certified

Getting a certification is a great goal to include in a performance review. It furthers the employee’s career as well as their educational background for future positions. Those positions can be within your company or with others.


Getting certified in the software engineering industry is a great goal because it’s something that shows your level of expertise. Others in the industry can look at that certification and understand what that is and how hard you had to work to get it.


An example of how to phrase this goal would be “Obtain my certification in Microsoft Azure by the end of the quarter.” This can be further specified by a grade point average or minimum requirement you would expect your employee to receive. Check out this list of 11 Developer Certifications that are great for the IT industry.

Learn a New Skill

Learning a new skill can go hand in hand with getting certified. New job skills not only help improve your employees’ careers but helps keep them engaged in their job. It keeps them interested and invested. You don’t want your employees to become stagnant or complacent.


An example of how you can word this goal would be “Learn a VueJs by the end of the year.” You can even get specific with the type of language or framework you’d like your employee to learn. 

Become More Active Within the Company

Becoming more active within the company is another great goal to include in any performance review. This shows they are willing to integrate further with the company as well as take on more responsibilities.


You can phrase this goal by saying, “Get involved with organizing company events.” This can, of course, be further specified to fit your needs. 

Performance Review Tips to Keep in Mind

There are a lot of things you’ll want to bear in mind when doing performance reviews. There is a list here of just a few things to help you going forward. 

Utilize the Whole Year

When conducting a performance review, you have to make sure you are utilizing the whole year. This can be difficult to do if you aren’t keeping up with it throughout the year. Things can get missed.


A good tip for this is to keep detailed records of the things each employee does well. Typically, there is a disciplinary file on employees but rarely is there a folder on the things they do exceptionally well. Try to create a folder like that. This way, when it comes time for the performance reviews, you know everything from the entire year that you did well.


This could be difficult if you are a manager of many employees. A spreadsheet could be a helpful solution in this case.

Include Both Qualitative and Quantitative Aspects of the Employee’s Performance

The qualitative and quantitative aspects of the employee’s performance are those aspects that you can measure. These are the things that determine the overall performance level of your review.


You’ll want to make sure you can include those measurable aspects when giving your review. The employee needs to see them just as much as you do. These are the quantitative things they’ve done. Usually, you can assign a number or a star rating to them. These are usually the easier things to include.


The qualitative aspects are a little trickier. These aren’t easily assigned a number or a rating. You could see these are leadership skills, how helpful they are with others, etc. These are the things that would be based on the quality of the work rather than the quantity.

Use Short-Term and Long-Term Goals

There should be a list of short-term goals and long-term goals included in a performance review. This will help everyone involved to know where the employee wants to be within the company. 


Short-term goals can be anything they hope to achieve between 1 to 5 years. Long-term goals are much more extensive. These will typically span over 5 to 10 years, and it isn’t uncommon for them to be unsure of what those goals would be.


Examples of long-term goals are where they hope to be within the company in 5 to 10 years. Or where they hope to be in their personal life in that amount of time. Sometimes those long-term career goals can feed into their personal goals.

Include the Employee’s Improvements From the Year Prior

This is a very important tip to keep in mind. Always include how the employee has improved over the course of the year, as this will help them in more ways than one. They can help them see how close they are to reaching their short or long-term goals. 


Whether you are an employer or an employee looking for goals for your next performance review, it’s easy to get overwhelmed. There are a lot of ways to approach your goals. Hopefully, this list of goal examples for software engineers has been helpful to you.


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