How matrix of competencies made our performance reviews simple

In the beginning we work as one single team. I, as the founder, engineers, and a support guy. We know how each one’s working. We didn’t need performance reviews. I’ve been raising salaries depending on how our cash flow grows.

Company was growing. We separated engineers and support. We had two leads for each team. We felt that we need some feedback on our performance. We started making performance reviews twice a week. That was simple questionnaire with questions like "What were your achievements since the last review?", and "What you do well", and "What you should improve?". It was enough, but we felt that each time we miss something.

We tried several SaaS solutions, but each one was either overcomplicated, or just offer the same questionnaire. So, I started experimenting with spreadsheets.

The first thing I like is how large tech companies grade the roles. For example, Gitlab uses a Performance/Growth matrix. The grow matrix has three levels Developing, Performing, Exceeding. Another good example is their list of competencies for engineering. Engineers have four grades. These are Intermediate, Senior, Staff, and Principal. I tried to make something similar for our team.

The requirements

I wrote down some requirements:

  • It must consume as little time as possible for both reviewers and reviewees.
  • We must have history of the previous results.
  • It must be focused on individual to make improvements, not to highlight the lack of competencies.
  • It must have simple, clear phrases. Avoid ambiguous terms.
  • It should be applicable for each role. If the role doesn’t need some competence, we just skip that competence.

The result

Here’s the result

Download Performance-Reviews.xlsx

It has three parts:

  • Guide.
  • Small questionnaire.
  • Matrix of competencies across our values, engineering and communication competencies.

That template is still in draft. I constantly make changes, but we already conducted performance reviews for Q4 2021 and I receive very good feedback from the team.