Agile Development Leadership

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Rating Engineers – A Tool

By Gary Hinkle


Engineering managers often ask me how they should “rate” engineers. Recently, I developed a specific tool to assess overall engineering competency. The tool can be used by both the managers doing the rating as well as the engineers being rated. Even if your company has its own rating system, this assessment tool can supplement your system as a general assessment for just about any engineering job.

The tool helps you examine four competencies that are important for engineers’ continuous improvement:

Technical Competency

Communication Skills

Leadership Competency

Management Skills

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Getting the balance right between those four is a challenge that many engineers never achieve.

You may wonder why “leadership and management” appear on this list, given that it’s an instrument to assess individual contributors. Because leadership is mostly about being influential, trusted and respected. All engineers need these abilities—for reasons that I hope are obvious. Many engineering responsibilities involve work that’s management-oriented, such as managing oneself (tasks, time, priorities), contributing to project plans, and accurately estimating the duration of tasks.

Here’s the tool that includes specific criteria in each of these four critical areas:

Note for hiring managers: you can also use this assessment during the hiring process. Give candidates the assessment to test whether they’re candid and open. If they don’t own up to any weaknesses, that’s a problem. Focus the interview on validating what they view as their strengths, and openly discuss how they can develop in the areas they indicated have room for improvement.

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