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I have been the technical lead in a group of 8 software junior engineers for the past 4 months. This is my first technical lead position and it comes with the uneasy responsibility of assessing each member's performance.

I am facing a personal mentality issue and I wish to make sure to resolve this issue moving forward so that it does not affect the fairness of my evaluation:

  • I have a senior role in the company due to being a top 1% performer, but in terms of years of experience in the field, I am only 0-1 years senior to all my mentee. As such, I find it difficult to avoid comparing my mentee's performances to my own when gauging their productivity.

This mentality leads to frustrations at times. For example, on the extreme, 2 junior members of the team would consistently take up to 50 times more time than I would in deriving solutions to more complex tasks, even with assistance. I can't help but to wonder, "how slow is too slow?" in this case. Is it fair to hold team members to the same standards I hold myself to or something that I should avoid all together as a technical lead?

What would be a more objective approach moving forward?

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    I would evaluate each member with respect to the whole team (not their lead); And keep each evaluation private to its owner. – Sandra K Apr 7 '18 at 12:03
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    Instead of comparing juniors to the team, you might have some different meters for them. For example, in your view, does their rate of learning make them valuable in a few years? Not everyone in a team needs to solve the most difficult tasks. Often there is an abundant selection of important but perhaps simple tasks. Instead of wasting seniors' time on those, the juniors can solve them more efficiently in terms of cost. Ie. a senior finishes it in 20 mins at a cost of say 100, while a junior solves it in 2 hours at a cost of 40. – Juha Untinen Apr 7 '18 at 18:29
  • "For example, on the extreme, 2 junior members of the team would consistently take up to 50 times more time than I would in deriving solutions to more complex tasks, even with assistance." < are you honestly saying that these two developers take over a week to do something you could get done in an hour? (or a year to do what you do in a week?) – HorusKol Apr 9 '18 at 0:25
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Don't overthink this.

You have 8, so compare them to each other to find a middle ground, then work from there.

The middle ground may low or may be high, that is for you to work out. I usually take the worst and class him/her as mediocre and the best as good unless there is something exceptional about one of them. Then work my way up from the bottom trying to think of positive things about each as I work.

Coding skills is not the total of what makes a good worker, manners, ability to teamwork and a bunch of other things need to be factored in. These you assess individually and they're important.

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Have team members establish their own goals. Work with them to make those goals reasonable. Schedule meetingd with each team member at least monthly to see how they're doing (personally and professionally) and the progress on their goals. Some goals should be long-term like get a certification in your stack. Some can be short-term like, write unit tests for their code. Each member will have different goals according to their ability.

Judge them by their ability to meet these reasonable goals, not against each other in absolute performance.

  • And when you set those goals, make sure they are measurable and revisit them periodically in case they need to be recalibrated - which will almost certainly be the case. – Laconic Droid Apr 7 '18 at 18:14

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