2 min read

Credit where credit's due - but what about the developers?

Credit where credit's due - but what about the developers?
Photo by Cytonn Photography / Unsplash

My team, along with a couple of other teams, recently released a new feature at work. This is a cause for celebration! The release was marked with some internal comms that thanked the people who worked on it: project and product management, marketing and customer people.

Engineers? Nah, they did nothing!

This got me thinking about my days working as a dev in digital agencies in London. There were a few massive campaigns that we worked on. Some of them won awards or were featured in industry publications. The same thing happened. The creatives would get a mention. The project manager would get a mention. The account manager would definitely get a mention. The technical director? Possibly. But the three or four devs who worked to meet a seemingly impossibly tight deadline that was agreed to by someone who didn't even ask them how long it might take? Nothing.

I think it's normal practice that the people who manage the teams that deliver work to get the public credit for it. A good manager will pass those congratulations onto their reports who did the work. And that's what happened in this recent case at work, so we're all good there!

But if the managers deserve direct public praise for the work they delivered with the help of their team, why don't the team members themselves? There seems to be no good reason, other than there are usually a lot of them.

Going back to that agency example, what struck me at the time was that it wasn't just senior managers getting that public attention. The designers that designed the work were mentioned. The devs that implemented those designs were at the same level on the hierarchy. That just seemed unfair.

If you look at the audience for these types of message, and the authors of the messages, you can begin to see why the technical teams that delivered the work might get missed out. For the internal comms about a product release, they focus, quite rightly, on the changes to the product and how they improve the customer's experience using it. And the first people you think about when you're thinking about the product and customers are product and customer people!

In agency world, maybe it comes down to the fact that they have awards for creative arts, but they don't give out any awards for configuring Akamai to set a cookie using its directives, rather than overloading the single Windows Server 2003 box that serves all your clients' microsites, so that you can personalise banner ads featuring space hoppers in order to sell more mobile phones.

What do you think? Are we, as an industry, giving credit where credit's due, or are we guilty of unconscious bias when thinking about how work got done?