Do You Give Yourself Credit?

I like getting “credit” for my work. Not just the work I did, but the work I didn’t do.

When I write articles or books or whatever, I start by writing it “all” down. Some of these words are not useful. I look back at them and say, “What were you trying to say??” Sometimes I realize I need to remove sections or files. I put those in a file with the heading, “Stuff to use sometime.” I have yet to use them. I keep them anyway.

I get credit for every word I write even if I don’t use all the words. That’s what allows me to continue writing. I make progress, even if the words I write are not an obvious part of that progress.

When I wrote code or tests, I didn’t quite have the same perspective, but it was close. I counted everything that helped me learn more about the problem I was solving (writing code) or how to understand the product (writing tests) as something useful. I might not use my interim “products,” and I counted them anyway.

I felt better about myself. I made progress, partially by recognizing that I could make interim progress and get credit for it.

How about you?

Do you give yourself credit for interim work, or does it all have to be totally done before you can recognize your work?

What would it take for you to take partial credit and allow that work to inform your next chunk of work?

In my work with product owners and teams, I see this problem all the time.

The team asks for “complete” stories, what I would call feature sets. The product owner says things such as, “If it’s not all done, it’s not done.” The “It” here is a large story, what I would call several stories or feature sets.

When we set our expectations for completing all the work, it’s difficult for us to see progress. As humans, we like seeing progress. In Amabile and Kramer’s book, The Progress Principle: Using Small Wins to Ignite Joy, Engagement, and Creativity at Work, they report research that says we like to make small chunks of progress. When we do, we are more productive.

In order to see progress, we need interim milestones or deliverables. I like deliverables.

How easy is it for you to give yourself credit? Do you need to be all done, or can you give yourself credit for something and continue?

My dear adaptable leaders, that is the question of the week: Do you give yourself credit?

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