The Devastating Price Developers Pay for Working Hard

You’re a wonderful developer.

You come early, and you stay late. Your code is clear and well documented; you’re eager to help others, and you’re able to handle 3x the work your co-workers can handle.

You’re an amazing developer, and that’s your problem.

Your Boss and your co-workers all want your best work. It’s an unspoken expectation in the workplace. No one prepares you for the horrible consequences that come with doing your job well.

The devastating price you pay for working hard

There are several unpleasant downsides that come with exceptional performance and hard work. There’s one reward in particular that acts as a demotivator that destroys job satisfaction.

You’re probably already familiar with it.

The reward for working hard and performing above expectations at your job is more work.

This is devastating to developers in the long term, and here are a few reasons why …

1. Price’s Law becomes a dysfunctional cycle
Information scientist and physicist Derek de Solla Price discovered that the square root of the number of people in any domain does 50 percent of the work. If there are ten developers on your team, 3 of them do half the work. Who are these employees? If you’re an A-player, you’re already doing far more than your co-workers.

This is devastating because it creates a vicious cycle. In many organizations, you’re rewarded with more and more work, but your salary, titles or earning power remains unchanged. When this happens, your employer steals from your future, minimizing your earning power and your ability to get a new job at an appropriate salary level with an appropriate title.

2. Mercenaries corrupt patriots
According to Gallup and Steve Rasmussen, former CEO of Nationwide, your co-workers are either Patriots or Mercenaries.

If you’re a Patriot, you’re engaged. You believe in your managers and co-workers, and they believe in you. You’re focused on taking care of your organization because you trust your co-workers to look out for you. If you’re a Mercenary, you’re focused primarily on yourself. You’re a job hopper or social climber. You’re focused on getting as much value as you can for yourself; forget the company!

The employees who are willing to let others work for them? They’re usually mercenaries, people who are willing to do the bare minimum to collect a paycheck. Left unchecked, these mercenaries kill morale in the company, causing A-players to leave or become B- and C-players.

3. Crab mentality sends A-players to the bottom of the social hierarchy
Mediocre employees don’t like high achievers, and high achievers don’t like mediocre employees. If you’re an A-player who’s surrounded by mediocre B- and C-player employees, you’ll be punished for excellence.

What does this mean specifically?

Your co-workers will attempt to destroy the self-confidence of any employee (you) who achieves success or outperforms the rest of the group due to envy, spite, resentment, conspiracy or competitiveness. This isn’t mere speculation: the tall poppy syndrome, crab bucket mentality and tragedy of the commons are all examples of this kind of behavior in action. If you’re a great developer and you’re surrounded by mediocrity, you’ll be punished for it.

“Yeah, well, I don’t care what anyone thinks anyway!”

Here’s why you should care. No man is an island. At some point, you’re going to need help from others to do your job or complete a task. Want to find another job? You’ll need references from your manager and co-workers.

4. Mercenaries sabotage patriots
Their methods are simple. They get A-player patriots to do the work for them. Then they immediately take the credit for the A-player’s hard work. Mercenaries use a variety of strategies to accomplish this.

Machiavellianism, or interpersonal manipulation to shape alliances, is used to gain and maintain social status, regardless of their actual performance, to gain leverage against opponents or poison the well, turning managers against A-players they perceive as a threat.

Indirect aggression is characterized by bullying, slander, gossip, shaming or ostracizing others. It’s common in office settings and typically involves some reputation destruction. The thing with indirect aggression is that it’s incredibly difficult to prove and harder still to counteract unless you have a clear understanding of what it is and how it works.

Leverage. Malicious mercenaries will use anything as leverage: past mistakes, secrets shared in confidence, insecurities — anything that will get others (you) to do what they want when they want. For whatever reason, it’s important that they win and you lose.

Successful patriots use their abilities and accomplishments as leverage to counter mercenary bad behavior. But they’ll also rely on strong relationships with others as a balm for scheming behavior. Unfortunately this is the exception, not the rule.

See what I mean?

Working hard comes with a devastating price. So what’s the alternative then? Doing the bare minimum? Working to keep my head down and collect a steady paycheck?

Many employees do that already.

Doing that is worse, because it comes with its own set of miserable problems. It’s difficult to find and keep a job. The mediocre aren’t paid all that well, and they’re the first to go if your company initiates layoffs or mass firings.

The post The Devastating Price Developers Pay for Working Hard appeared first on SitePoint.

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