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Feeling discouraged that my rating is lower.

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Senior Software Engineer [E5] at Meta2 months ago

Got feedback from manager that my rating is just MA and on the border. I was given the context that my project complexity was not that much and it was a lower level project. I worked really hard and was expecting good ratings. What can I do to make sure that I exceeds the expectations next time?

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(2 comments)
  • Alex Chiou
    Tech Lead @ Robinhood, Meta, Course Hero
    2 months ago

    Sorry to hear this - It's never a good experience to be on the lower end of MA. If you haven't already, I highly recommend watching our "How To Navigate Your Performance Review In Tech" masterclass, which is largely based on our experience at Meta. The tactics covered in the video are especially important as you're an E5 and need a deeper packet in order to do well (I imagine it's even harder now to get EE or higher at Meta nowadays).

    I also recommend this discussion from a Microsoft engineer about building a healthier growth dialog with your manager to achieve the rating you want.

    I was given the context that my project complexity was not that much and it was a lower level project.

    High technical complexity is something every E5+ needs, but it can be a frustrating topic as "technical complexity" is such a fuzzy term: How do you figure out if a project has E5 technical depth?

    For a good high-level explainer behind that, I recommend the discussion here around how to find more technical depth and what technical depth means.

    In terms of concrete tactics to figure this out, here are my thoughts:

    • Ask your EM - If you're considering a project, simply ask your manager if it has E5 technical depth. This is something an EM should be good at gauging.
    • Ask an E6 - The role of an E6 (for the most part) is to work through E5s and find enough scope for them. Teams generally have an E6 TL - You can ask for their honest feedback on whether what you're working on has sufficient technical depth for your level.
    • Is it infeasible for an E4? - So instead of working from "above", view it from "below". Is your work something you can confidently delegate to an E4? Is your project similar to what E4s on the team are doing or have already accomplished in the past? If you're leaning "Yes" towards either of these questions, that's a bad sign.

    For most E5s, I expect them to be able to create large scope on their own, especially if they're pushing for E5 EE+ and then E6 promo. It's possible that all the projects that are handed to you don't have sufficient scope and technical complexity; this is a feature, not a bug when it comes to E5 performance. In this situation, you either need to expand the scope of those projects or find a new one. Here's my in-depth explainer on how to do that.

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  • Richard Chen
    Senior Software Engineer [E5] at Meta
    2 months ago

    Maintaining a heartbeat on alignment between your contributions and level expectations are essential. At Meta, we have touchpoint conversations, mid cycle feedback, and recurring 1-1s with manager which are all opportunities to share this information. While managers can't and shouldn't guarantee a particular rating, a stark difference between expectations and given ratings indicates a misstep in communication between you and your manager. The same project can be built differently for a given level; exceeding expectations means that some contribution(s) delivered beyond your level's expectations, enough to pull up your overall rating.

    Mitigations

    1. Establish expectations early on. Your level (E5 at Meta based on your profile) has published expectations in different axes (project impact, people, direction, engineering excellence). In your situation, project complexity should be assessed when roadmaps and project plans are being created. If your team has adequate scope, then you will have ownership that aligns with your level expectations. To exceed expectations, the project must have room to grow, so you can demonstrate behaviors beyond your level.
    2. Have regular check ins with your manager, team leads, and mentors. Time should be intentionally used to get a sense of where things are trending. What's areas are meeting, exceeding, or falling behind expectations? This can help you refocus efforts, or get more mentorship in a specific area. Lean into your strengths to pull up your performance, and mitigate your growth areas to reduce performance drag. Your peer reviews and manager's feedback would ideally outline some growth areas for you this year. If not, work with them to define actionable steps.
    3. Make sure that the people representing you understand the hurdles needed to bring it to completion. Did you experience unexpected challenges during the project? How did you apply behavior expectations of your level and beyond to make this project successful? Were you onboading? Roadmap reviews and incremental updates may be a good way to broadcast this tactfully.

    Meets all is still a good rating at your level, but I understand that surprise ratings are demoralizing. Year long PSC, and current tech industry headwinds introduce new challenges to managers and engineers alike. Good luck!

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