January 8, 2020 // By Jeff Nordquist
At some point in our careers, we all end up drawing the short straw. There are undesirable tasks that have to be done. Maybe a senior exec has asked for a detailed report (with charts!) on your team’s progress. Or maybe your service developer quits unexpectedly and you have two days to learn how to deploy your server code. It’s way outside your wheelhouse, but you’re the SME so you get the gig.
It’s not the job you signed up for, but it’s a fact of life. Here are some ways to make it as pain-free as possible.
Dive In Head-First
Make it your top priority. Clear everything off your plate that you can, and immerse yourself in this new world. If you need to make an executive summary, find out exactly what they want and blow their minds. If you need to respond to an audit, be 100% thorough and precise. Apply the same mindset to this new task as you do to your regular job. You don’t want sloppy code in your app - so why would you want your name on a sloppy PowerPoint presentation?
Learn Everything You Can
This is a golden opportunity to understand what other people in the company do. On one of my projects, we lost two service developers, our QA person, and our Product Owner, all within a couple of months. Their responsibilities fell to me while replacements were found. It was a little challenging at the time, but it was also an incredible learning experience. Every bit of knowledge you gain makes you a better developer.
Recognize When There’s No Going Back
I recently learned about the Peter Principle, and if you haven’t heard of it before, it’s worth learning about. If you’re good at what you do, you’ll keep getting more responsibilities until you reach a point where your skills don’t fit the job description anymore. It can happen slowly over time, until one day you think, “Hey, I’m an iOS developer - but I haven’t launched Xcode in weeks!”
When this happens, try to get yourself back on track. Talk with your manager, and work with them to explore options. Get creative. At one company, we actually decided to shut down the project altogether (it was a legacy app that was costing more than it was bringing in) - and my next project was much more fun!
It really helps to look at the positives in these situations. You get to learn new things and meet new people, and sometimes it’s actually nice to take a break from your normal routine!
Jeff Nordquist is a software developer, leader, coach, and entrepreneur. He loves learning and writing about this stuff! You can reach him on Twitter @jeffnordquist. If you want to see what positions Magenic has open, check out our Careers page!