Truly expert programmers make their work look easy, and they make sure the code they write is actually easy for the programmers who follow them to maintain or revise .
To attain this leveland, whats tougher, to sustain ityou must set your own benchmarks, because there are no local, regional, or national competitions coming up for which you can go into training.
I know, I know: Self-motivation, in the absence of overt competition, is hard to maintain. Ive seen it in scores programming offices employees who have stopped learning, stopped keeping an eye open for new developments that they could implement for the benefit of their company. They are getting by in their jobs, and they dont visualize themselves dropping behind other programmers in competence, because programmers are never set against each other in an obvious competition like a race. Most often, there is no clear and motivating signal to galvanize the corporate programmer into action.
There are no Olympic Games in programming, no best-of-the-best contests in which you can measure your performance against that of your peers. But, whether you sense it or not, you are always in a race with your colleagues. To motivate yourself to get and stay ahead of them, and to ward off a dead-end career, consider and use the following benchmarks:
Of course, your first benchmark is your annual formal performance evaluation. If you do not receiveat the very leastan evaluation of meets requirements, you are in big trouble. It surprises me how many programmers are content to get a meets requirements evaluation which is either a C or a D, depending on the number of your companys ranking categories. Performance evaluations are directly tied to pay raises, and only the highly rated programmers are normally considered for promotion or for other corporate positions .
Another performance benchmark is being promoted to another programmer title, which normally means a bump in your compensation. In your early years as a programmer, you should expect to be promoted to the next job title within about two years, or wonder and ask your managerwhy you are not being promoted.
Yet another performance benchmark is whether your manager asks you to work on difficult and critical projects. Allied with that indication of competence is this benchmark: You should be able to work on difficult projects without asking or receiving constant help from your peers.