October 10, 2019 // By Jeff Nordquist
This next one may seem a little more self-serving, but hear me out - I think it’s still very important:
Reason #4: Pride
When taken to an extreme, pride can be a bad thing. But I believe one of the things that makes a great artist truly exceptional is that they take immense pride in their work. They pay attention to every detail. And they know their next project will be even better. On the flip side, when we put out work that we know is not our best, we start to lose self-confidence and motivation - and it affects us on future projects.
Human nature being what it is, we also like to be recognized for our efforts by others in one way or another. For some, it’s salary and raises. For other, it’s a nice email from a teammate or manager. And some people care more about the work environment that’s been created for them (and that they’ve helped to build).
Here are a few things that can help us take pride in what we do:
A job well done: This is the most selfless one, and it’s pretty important if you want to stay in the business. You have to be proud of the code you’re writing. And when the software is released, the opinion that should matter to you most is your own. Even if the latest release wasn’t perfect, ask yourself, “Did I do the best I could? Did I work ethically? Did I make the team better by being on in?” As long as you can answer “yes” to those questions, I’d call it a win.
Salary and benefits: This directly affects our lives and our families - it’s important! Are you getting paid what you’re worth? Does the company value your skills? Do the health insurance benefits give you and your family a sense of security? If the company isn’t willing to compensate you fairly for the services you’re providing, it can be hard to feel valued.
Work Environment: Money and benefits aren’t the only way that a company can let you know they value your contributions. Have they invested in good equipment and workstations? Do they trust you to work remotely sometimes? Do they offer “extras” that are meaningful to you, like donuts on Fridays, or weekly/monthly happy hours, or a dog-friendly office?
Recognition: This may seem gratuitous, and I know a number of developers who shy away from it. But I think everyone enjoys some kind of pat on the back from time to time. I don’t need a company-wide email extolling my virtues (if that ever happens, I’ll let you know! :)), but it means a lot to me when a co-worker or manager takes the time to send a nice note or stop by my desk. I also enjoy recognizing others when they do good things. In fact, I might like that even more - I feel good, they feel good, everybody wins.
Sometimes companies miss the mark or can’t find the right balance. “We’ll pay you way below industry standard, but you can bring your dog to work!”, or “We’ll drop sacks of cash on your desk, but you’d better drive through this monsoon/blizzard/sharknado and be at your desk by 8:30!”. That’s not really sustainable; when a company veers too far off course, their competitors start to look just a little more interesting…
What gives you a sense of pride? Do you care what other people think of your work - even if you don’t want to actually admit it to anyone? If you could change one thing about your current situation to feel more valued, what would it be? I’d love to hear your thoughts! You can find me on Twitter @jeffnordquist.