Development Team Membership : Part 2 – Apologies

A lot of people struggle with apologising.  It can be difficult, particularly in the workplace, but apologising even for little things can make a big difference to those around you.  Couple of really obvious examples:

Sorry, I broke the build

Sorry, I’m not going to meet this deadline

Now, it’s not likely you will need to apologise very often; in fact, if you are, it’s probably indicative of a wider issue. In the above examples, maybe you need some coaching on TDD from peers, or maybe you need to be empowered to push back on an imposed deadline.  There will be occasion, however, when things don’t quite go to plan and you just have to hold your hands up and say “Sorry”.

Apologising shows ownership and responsibility for your actions, which for me have always been key qualities with respect to choosing who I want to work with.  Those with “Teflon Shoulders” tend not to last very long.  It also shows a respect for your peers, they will know you dropped the ball, denying it will do you no favours in the long run and a prompt apology can make all the difference in getting people on side to help with a resolution if needs be.

What is an apology?

To me, an apology has very little to do with what it is being apologised for.

What’s done is done, no point crying over spilled milk, and so on.

In fact, in my head, I’ve probably already moved on…

Time Travel
Time Travel

So, what is it?

To me, an apology is:

  • a contract of intent not to make the same mistake again;
  • a display of ownership of your actions;
  • respect.

Not apologising, is the opposite:

  • a contract of intent to make the same mistake again;
  • shirking ownership of your actions;
  • disrespectful.


An insincere apology is worse than no apology, if you don’t mean it, don’t say it.

Closing Thoughts

It’s rarely too late to apologise, (especially if you still have a job!).  Apologising can help you get something off your chest and also have a profound impact on those around you and the way they act towards you.

Is there anything you’ve done and shrugged off into the Ether?

Next time you do something a little bit questionable, at work or outside (we all do, don’t deny it), apologise and see where it gets you.


Development Team Membership : Part 1 – Moaning

I recently made the transition from Permanent Employment to the world of IT Contracting.  Along with this change, came a different role for me with my new client; a much more hands on position writing a lot more code which is exactly where I wanted to be!

I previously wrote a series of Blog Posts providing tips for Development Team Leadership, this has dried up of late due to my change in circumstance, however I would like to now start sharing some tips for Development Team Membership, having worked on both sides of the fence.

Don’t moan without a resolution

Moaning is great.  Everyone loves a good moan, myself included.  Moaning can be helpful and healthy, in fact indirectly it’s part of the agile feedback loop, what went well, what didn’t.  Accompanying this, should always be next steps; how to negate what grievances you may have.

There’s definitely a right time and a place for moaning sharing your observations in the context of your team, you’ll be best placed to know when this is, but it may typically be a team retrospective, a workshop on where your team is heading or a one on one, planned or impromptu session with your mentor/lead.

As a software professional, keep it impersonal.  You won’t want to come across as a bully, picking out specific people’s faults or shortcomings is never helpful.  Code reviews should be used to increase code quality, but be cognisant of their feelings and how you may be perceived.

Mr Muscle, loves the jobs you hate

You can’t always have the glamorous roles in the team, sometimes you just need to roll up your sleeves and get stuck in.  As a good team player you should have no qualms in doing the grunt work.  Grunt work leads to insight, and insight can lead to improvement in process.  Developers are lazy, and that’s no bad thing.  Do something once, do something twice and automate.

Don't skip Leg Day
Don’t skip Leg Day

Don’t shy away from hard work.

Improvements Log

You’re the one with the low level knowledge of your application(s), any potential improvements that don’t fit within the confines of the piece you’re working on should be logged, to be addressed at an appropriate time.

This will serve to broaden the teams understanding of how they should all be writing software, e.g. coding standards/patterns, and, in the same way that code reviews serve to manage quality going in to an application.  Improvements serve to keep the application up to date.  As soon as it’s committed, code becomes legacy, it’s a valuable resource and an opportunity to improve, it, and yourself as time passes.

An improvements log can serve as a satisfying alternative to a good rant.  Log it and move on, your lead should be monitoring the situation and pushing things forward.