Prestigelessness

Fullstack developer and a consultant Johan Jäderblom writes about what prestigelessness means in a development team.

Being prestigeless is hard. Whenever someone gives you criticism or feedback, your first response is to start defending yourself. You cast blame or get angry.

This happens a lot in software development. You put a bunch of high performing individuals who are all trying their best in a team and task them with building something great. It sounds like the perfect recipe for building awesome tech. But what happens when they don’t agree? When someone thinks they know better than the rest? When someone does know better than the rest?

Imagine this: you spend a week building a new page for the giant-corp.tech website (not a real website, or at least don’t trust anything there if it is), only to be met with nitpicking comments about how you should have named that variable this, and that function could be cleaner. It’s very easy to fall into defending yourself, “you’re wrong”. Your pride is taking a hit from the criticism. You get a hint of that imposter syndrome. You feel like everyone knows more than you. I know I do — I still get nervous about showing off my code in code reviews.

Now, I’m not saying you shouldn’t be proud of your work, because you definitely should! But you shouldn’t have so much pride in your work that you tie your prestige to it. If your goal with a pull request is to show off how smart you are, then I get how you would get really defensive about it. You’ve tied a little bit of your self-worth into it. We all do this a little bit, we do feel good when there are no comments and everyone gives their approval.

But the beauty of working in teams is that we have access to each others knowledge. Maybe someone ran into issues doing something similar. Someone might have solved the same problem with a simpler solution. At the end of the day, software development is (often) a collaborative process. We need to be able to hear someone else’s opinion and not take it personally.

// Jæder

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Mpya Digital is an IT consultancy in Stockholm, Sweden. It is an organization made by — and continuously improved by — the people in it.

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