Giving feedback is a regular task for all IT contractors, regardless of your core area of expertise. Whether its to a colleague, a client or a direct report, feedback comes in a variety of forms and usually starts with an evaluation. For example, you may give a colleague feedback on their presentation after seeing it, give a fellow contractor feedback on their resume after reading it, and or give a developer feedback on their code after a careful review.
Unlike sitting through a presentation or glancing over a resume, reviewing code and giving feedback requires extensive focus, knowledge and attention to detail. That’s why the best code reviewers are able to land jobs working on the most exciting projects.
In a recent article published by The Muse, Full Stack Engineer Neely Kartha comments on some of her struggles when she first began reviewing code, specifically the stress that can come from the expectations. Obviously a great problem-solver with initiative, Kartha explains how she interviewed other professionals to collect tips on how to best review code. Here are the 5 most important ones she discovered:
- Think about the overall impact
- Consider security
- Focus on bugs
- Be a team player
- Use the process for learning and knowledge sharing
While the first three points require strong technical skills and experience to truly excel, the final two — being a team player and embracing the opportunity to grow — are soft skills that can often be more challenging. Kartha points out at the end of her article that the steps in providing feedback are a great opportunity to exercise your people skills. She suggests giving people the benefit of the doubt while trying to dispel defensiveness. Obviously this is no easy task, but surely something that top code reviewers have mastered.
Do you review code? If so, do you have any additional tips for a successful review that ensures a quality product and maintains good relationships with the author? We’d love your tips, please share them in the comments below.