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  • Lokajit Tikayatray

5 Mistakes That Can Stall Your Career Growth as a Programmer

Bright software developers put their best effort to learn and grow fast in the initial few years of their careers. However, after succeeding in the beginning years, many of these programmers find their careers stagnated.

They lose motivation as they cannot progress as much as they expected.

These once-promising software engineers fail to figure out what they are doing wrong to impede their growth. They ignore the fact that software engineering is not all about coding.

Hence, knowingly or unknowingly, they make several mistakes that prove counterproductive for their career.

With a decade and a half of experience in the software industry, I have come across a few common traits among developers who fail to continue their initial success. Here are the top five mistakes that programmers need to watch out for so they do not ruin their software career.

1. Getting Comfortable With the Role

“In nature, if something is not growing then it is dying.” — Author Unknown

You will see the same natural phenomenon happening in the software industry. You need to constantly improve your knowledge and expertise to keep pace with the ever-changing technological world.

Often developers put a lot of effort during their initial days of the job. They have an eagerness to learn and be better at their work. But not all of these programmers continue to perform at the same speed in their later careers.

They get complacent as they progress and want to live in their comfort zone.

As a software developer, you need to learn and grow continuously. During the initial days of your career, you can focus on just the technical aspect and completing your assigned task with excellent quality.

As you grow and hold more responsible positions, you need to expand your horizon and provide more value to the organization.

Getting comfortable with your role — or not wanting to take up new challenges — will be detrimental to your career aspirations.

You might feel that’s all right, as there is more to life than work, but while this is true, you can survive in a role only until someone more efficient and proactive shows up. And when you are not putting effort to enhance your capabilities, it won’t be hard for a more dynamic and capable person to replace you.

2. Escape From Taking Responsibility

People who are ready to take responsibility thrive in the software profession. Everyone loves to work with them due to their proactiveness and sincerity. These responsible programmers get the most promising opportunities in the team.

Programmers who want to escape from their responsibilities do not want to take up any work on their own. If you give them a task, they will not progress unless you constantly follow up with them.

Sometimes you will feel you can finish the job faster than wasting time in checking for the status.

To avoid responsibility, such developers will never accept any of their faults. A defect in their code is either a requirement issue, environment problem, or because a tester does not know how to test. You will always find them ready with excuses.

Irrespective of how much evidence you have, it is never their problem.

Trying to escape from responsibility is a sure-shot way to ruin your software career. The team and your manager can easily see through the excuses. Being dishonest to avoid accountability will not help you achieve your goals, and it will undoubtedly hamper your growth prospects in the team.

3. Not Sharing Knowledge

“The only irreplaceable capital an organization possesses is the knowledge and ability of its people. The productivity of that capital depends on how effectively people share their competence with those who can use it.” — Andrew Carnegie

Knowledge is power for both individuals and organizations. The whole team thrives when the knowledge of each individual is shared among everyone. It helps to increase the overall experience and awareness of the team.

However, you will frequently find some programmers who prefer to not share their technical or functional expertise. They like to keep what they’ve learned to themselves.

I guess they are afraid that sharing their knowledge will somehow reduce their importance or usefulness in the team.

People who want to hoard knowledge do not prefer to help anyone. If you ask them any questions, they will feign ignorance. They will often act busy and show that they have no time to attend to your queries.

If anything, you are disturbing them by asking for their help.

By not sharing knowledge, these programmers negatively impact the team and their own performance. The team has to spend time finding the details that the developer already knows. Hence, they will view the programmer as a person who is not a team player.

It will undoubtedly hurt your future performance appraisal and growth in the company.

4. Poor Time Management and Delegation Skills

Knowing how to manage time is essential for software developers. It helps you estimate appropriately, complete your tasks without spillovers, and have enough spare time to learn something new. Understanding how to delegate is the key to manage time effectively.

Poor time management is one of the critical mistakes that can ruin a programmer's career.

Such developers will always feel overwhelmed by their workload, and may constantly complain of insufficient time. At the same time, they do not like to delegate tasks to others.

If you do not know how to delegate, get help from your managers or team leads. They are more capable of managing the workload due to their experience. It is the lead or manager’s responsibility to assign tasks based on the skill and availability of the developer.

All you need to do is to let them know your concerns.

When you delegate the tasks that others can do, you free up time for yourself. You can use the time to learn something new or focus on tasks that need your expertise. Effective delegation can help you not burn out, keep your enthusiasm going, and improve your motivation.

5. Have Behavioral Issues

Attitude is a big deal in any profession. In a software job, you have to work closely with the clients, interlock teams, product owners, team members, and other stakeholders. Knowing how to deal with each of them efficiently is a must to be successful.

Programmers with bad attitudes do not understand this essential detail. They feel if they can code well, that is all it is required of them to grow in their career. And, once such programmers reach a certain level of programming skill, they feel they are the best.

Software developers with terrible attitudes do not take other’s feedback constructively. Any helpful input for them seems like a personal comment; they feel no one knows better than them.

Due to their behavioral issues, other employees do not like to work with such developers, and they become isolated in the team. Their performance appraisal goes terrible due to adverse peer review feedback.

Eventually, the programmers become demotivated, which further impacts their career growth.

Final Thoughts

You cannot improve your skills or grow in your career by hiding your vulnerabilities or ignoring them. Covering it up can only make them invisible to others for a short duration. Your weaknesses are still there within you, impacting your performance.

By recognizing your vulnerabilities, you can show others that you are aware of their disadvantages. By acknowledging the shortcoming, you are ready to accept what areas you need to improve on.

That is half the battle won.

Now you know some of the critical mistakes that programmers make to ruin their careers. With an open mind and acquired wisdom, I am sure you can achieve the goals you set for yourself in your software career.

Thanks for reading the article. I wish you all the very best in your software career.

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