I am sure many of you who read this know me and for those who don’t…I want to establish this baseline. I am an honest person. I don’t like mind games and I try and be as straightforward as I can when dealing with people. I like to establish a baseline of trust before I continue on with anyone, otherwise there is room for the niggling thought in the back of my mind that something someone is saying is not meant the way it was intended or had some other meaning. I HATE THIS. It is unproductive and harbinger to end relationships.
Now that we have that out of the way….
I wanted to put myself out there and explain what keeps me at a job or company. There are really 3 things that go through my mind when thinking of this:
- The position and company has to be interesting
- I need to be able to trust the people and company
- I need to be able to provide for my family
I think it would be important to review each of these individually to give you a better understanding of my thought process.
The position and company has to be interesting
This is a pretty straight forward statement but can be interpreted many different ways. I want to be in a position within a company to sample all the facets of the business. Sure, I am a programmer by Diploma but I also enjoy people. I cannot, and I mean this literally, I CANNOT sit and work from 9-5 at a desk and bang out code. If you are looking for a workhorse, look somewhere else. Being able to do many different jobs and see how the company operates enthralls me in what the company and people are doing and where they plan on going. I become emotionally invested.
I love to code, don’t get me wrong but thinking about the project from 9-5 is tedious. I like to get up, interact with other developers, clients, whomever is around and see if I can help them with any problems they are having, grab a drink and maybe catch up on a little social media (who doesn’t keep abreast of the latest tech?). Another one that will be a rising priority as Alice (my daughter) gets older is the ability to attend her events or pick her up from daycare or school if my wife is busy. Remember emotional investments? This is part of it. When I am emotionally invested, I find myself coming back to code I was having an issue with at work and work on it in the 10PM-3AM stint I usually reserve for my personal projects or clients. This is a good thing for me as it means that I want the company to do well so that I can make a difference within it and help accomplish its vision. I have worked at enough places in varying lines of work to know that I NEED to love where I am working & believe in the company. If I am not, it shows and the first people to notice are my loved ones. I seem grouchy and stand offish. So, as a rule, I now do not interview at places where I don’t think I can do something meaningful (for others, personal development, etc.) or the work is not interesting.
Of course it is easy to say this but pointing out an example of a place I would not want to work is hard, as all previous places had something that ignited that passion and a need to see those companies succeed. This inspired me to work hard and leave my mark.
I need to be able to trust the people and company
Another major point. Like I stated in the opener, I do not like mind games and people masking meanings behind what they are saying. I would rather get it out there and deal with it than it go on for months and be extremely unproductive. It does go deeper than this though. I need to be able to trust co-workers, managers, peers and everyone else in the company, so that when I hand things off to them, I know they will get accomplished. I am emotionally invested in the company and in most previous cases, dealt with the customer that I am handing off work to someone else.
When I do something like this I like to know the other parties have it handled as customer satisfaction is very high on my list, if not number one. I have talked with these people, our clients if you will, and have a connection of trust and being able to not deliver the desired product or on time makes me frustrated as it betrays that trust and makes it hard for them to come to you again and expect anything different.
At a higher level, I need to be able to trust the company in general to make the right decisions, so I can continue to work on the interesting and cool things I was hired to do. Let’s be honest, as I write this, London is a developer’s market right now. Any developer worth his salt can go out right now and be picked up by any other company. I see this and it’s exciting but to me, what is more exciting is a company who can spark that passion in me and continue to stoke it so I get excited to go into work and do something I enjoy. This is a good segue into the last point.
I need to be able to provide for my family
This to me is the most bothersome point as I don’t want it to be part of the list but it needs to be. Cards on the table? I have a wife and daughter (19 months as of writing this, also super cute and smart!) and I don’t want to have to worry about providing for my family while I am at work.
Making ends meet was something I did with my wife while we were in college and dating. Now, 8ish years later, this is not something that I can get on board with. Since having a child, my family enjoys a certain lifestyle that I do not wish to disrupt. I am by no means the most expensive developer out there but I am not the cheapest. it circles back to trusting the company to compensate me fairly so I can focus on what matters at work, making amazing things that satisfies a customer’s need or want. If I have to think about what side job I need to take to make ends meet for the end of the month, you don’t have my attention 100% and we all lose.
This being said, I usually like to prefix those statements with the fact that I learn extremely quick and it is mostly in part to me putting more pressure on myself than any manager or company could. This stress helps me learn quickly by enabling my ROOKIE SMARTS – if you don’t know what these are, you need to so check out the video below!
With this in mind, I can make those small iterative steps that allow me to gain vast amounts of knowledge. How does this relate to providing to my family? Well, when compensating me for my time, keep in mind that yes you are paying me but you are also investing in me, what I am capable of and what I can do for the company I work for. I may not know it all but learning quick cuts down on the cost of teaching me your processes.
Looking back at these points, it’s easy for me to see how they interweave each other and connect each other. With this in mind, one of these cannot be focused on alone but all of them need to be fed and nurtured. When one of these suffer or fail it has a ripple effect. These are not islands where something can happen in one area that would not touch the other two. If one of them suffers, it is more than likely going to touch the other two. Have an opinion of this? Let me know in the comments below and if it resonates with you, make sure to share it with others. Until I can get on here for another post, Happy Hacking!