How do they do it?
“How is [insert developer name] able to attract the promotions and job offers they’re getting? Their work is trash; I’m a much better developer! I work twice as hard, write better code, and produce 2x more work than they do? This is completely unfair.”
You’re right, it is unfair.
This is a serious career problem, assuming that you’ve made an accurate assumption about your skills and performance. Seriously, what gives?
Why most developers optimize for the wrong goal
It’s a common mistake made by many employees in general. Here’s a quote from Reddit user Myidiotbox that encapsulates both the attitude of many employees and the response they receive in return.
This is the unspoken attitude lurking beneath for many people.
“I’m working really hard so I deserve X. I did my job well so I want Y.”
Here’s the problem with this attitude.
It takes you further away from the goals you want (such as being treated well, making more money, achieving significance, and so on). This perception is the primary reason so many developers fail to achieve the career goals they aspire to.
Here are the goals (if you can call them that) a healthy employer looks for.
- Can I count on this developer to deliver amazing work consistently?
- Is this developer loyal or will he betray me and jump ship as soon as he gets the chance?
- How easy is it to replace these developers?
- Could I replace them if they left?
- How long would it take and how much would it cost me?
- This developer is killing it, how do I help them produce more amazing work?
See the problem?
There’s a mismatch here. The vast majority of people are struggling with Dunning-Kruger effect and are prone to overestimate their competence. They believe they’re doing a better job relative to their peers.
But they’re not.
Here’s why this is an issue. This mismatched thinking puts you at odds with your employer. This creates significant problems down the line, too, because it turns employees (you) in to mercenaries over time.
If this sounds harsh, it’s not intended to be.
Here are some simple strategies web developers can use to attract the positions other developers want with minimal effort.
Strategy #1: Become a patriot, stay a patriot
In 2013, Gallup worked with then Nationwide CEO Steve Rasmussen to improve employee engagement. In the course of their relationship, Rasmussen shared a surprising observation.
Employees are either patriots or mercenaries.
Not because they want to be but because they have to be.
Patriots totally identify with their company, and mercenaries are more likely to focus on personal outcomes.
Patriot employees are engaged. They have ownership, they believe in their firm and their firm believes in them. Instead of looking out for themselves, they’re focused on looking out for their firm.
On the other hand, mercenaries are focused on themselves. They tend to rely on serial job-hopping, power hoarding, and social climbing to get what they want. Mercenaries are focused on getting as much value as they can for themselves; they don’t care much about their company.
It’s no surprise then that they’re disengaged.
If the interests of the firm happen to align with their own interests, they’ll do what’s best for the firm. But they’re not really focused on putting their firm ahead of themselves.
Most of the time they can’t.
Why? Because their employer is a mercenary: these employers are focused on squeezing as much value as they can out of their employees. Then, they’re tossed aside once they’re burned out and used up.
You’ll want to stay a patriot.
This means you continue to buy in to your company’s vision. You continue to believe in your employer or co-workers and you look out for them. The instant you can’t do that, you start looking for another job. Here’s why it’s important to remain a patriot.
Intention has a smell.
The exceptional opportunities, benefits, and rewards go overwhelmingly to people who like, trust, and believe in you. These people can smell your intentions, partially due to the fact that humans communicate chemically.
Additionally, there’s a certain kind of tone, inflection, attention, and posture that’s communicated when we’re actually interested and engaged in something. If you’re like most humans on planet Earth, you know what that looks like. The better you are at remaining invested in your employer and co-workers — helping them solve tough problems, sticking with them through bad times — the easier it is win these coveted positions.
Simple Strategies for Winning the Positions Other Developers Want