Can tech companies use code reviews to keep their employees psychologically safe?

  • Reduce the negative consequences of delivering code that needs to be fixed. We can’t say “eliminate” the negative consequences; after all, teams are here to build great code that meets requirements. But framing cost reviews as teaching moments, not judgment moments, make it
  • Regularly canvas the team, especially junior developers and others who might be worried they have less standing, to understand how the code reviews are making them feel.
  • Review a sampling of code reviews regularly across all reviewer-coder pairings, to look for positive or worrisome trends based on their tone and conclusions.
  • Offer training and support, not judgment, to colleagues who may need more training and support in creating code reviews that protect psychological safety.
  • Finally, we recommend that continuous violators of psychological safety, in code reviews and elsewhere, should be asked to leave the team. We don’t believe that any single coder or colleague is more important than making sure that everyone feels enabled to do their best work.

Clear process

Make sure that the process for code reviews is articulated, clear, codified, taught, followed, and reinforced.

Fast turnaround

Code reviews are a responsibility that should always be taken seriously — and take first priority. Someone’s first task is always to review other people’s code before writing one’s own.



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