I came to know that I was categorized as a middle performer in my recent yearly performance review. This past year, I was asked to lead 2 significant platform/infra projects (teams of 3 engineers). I did exactly that and delivered those projects on time.
I documented the tech specs, helped onboard 2 new engineers on to these 2 projects, provided transparent updates to management, wrote good & maintainable code, and worked with a "customer-obsessed" mindset with application teams to ensure their requirements were met.
Despite all this, upper management still categorizes me as a middle performer. What are things that I can do to increase visibility of my performance and get categorized as a "top" performer?
This question would be easier to answer with company / level info. I assume you might be at Amazon given "customer-obsessed" :)
This becomes an exercise in aligning with your manager. In 1:1s, do you talk about career progress instead of just filling the time with status updates.
When you ask for feedback, do you ask questions like "Relative to level X + 1, how do you think I'm performing in terms of coding velocity/leadership/communication?" This way you're asking "Am I on track for a good rating?" without actually asking it.
Ideally what you want as the output of this exercise is something written down in your career growth document with your manager that outlines what "high performer" means in concrete terms.
Peer reviews also critically important: https://www.jointaro.com/lesson/TIlQf4xgAoHw2xHgsdKf/make-sure-to-set-this-up-with-your-manager-to-ace-your-performance-review/
Here's the masterclass about performance review: https://www.jointaro.com/lesson/b0B8uqIAUnBLE10jJHJG/how-to-navigate-your-performance-review-in-tech-7232022/