Home > Ideas and Philosophy > Under-Appreciation is a Reality of Life

Under-Appreciation is a Reality of Life

I’m a manager of a team of system administrators.  Historically our work has been just web application setup and code migration.  Over the years the work has become more complex and hence more valuable, with the team now provisioning virtual environments and coordinating network configuration tasks, among others.  Even the technologies we handle have evolved, from physical servers running now-legacy operating systems to virtual machines running the latest and greatest out there in the cloud.

One thing that hasn’t changed, though, and this is something that once in a while we’re still reminded of, is that this can be a thankless job.  When things are doing well for an application’s release, the quiet work we did to help make that successful, from provisioning their environments to supporting it post-go-live, is not mentioned.  However when there’s a problem, somehow, right or wrong, the team gets a lot of the blame.  In other words, when there’s success we’re not credited, however when there’s a problem we’re blamed.

Success has therefore been defined as a release where no one complained about what we did, even if that also meant not getting any recognition for it.  It’s not the ideal, but we’ve since learned to take what we can get.

I can imagine that it’s not just my team that gets this treatment.  There are other support teams in the company like mine that are in “thankless” situations too.  Our DBA team is another such example.  Outside of technical work I think a good example would be our HR who lately ends up getting shot as the messenger of bad news, among other things.

Under-appreciation is a reality of life.  This is very obvious and real for my team and other teams that provide some kind of support work.  In the face of such under-appreciation, you have to take things in stride.  The reality is that you’ll never be able to please everybody no matter what you do, so the sooner you accept that fact, the sooner you can get over any feelings of neglect and move on.  There are some jobs that are not meant for everybody; the really thankless jobs are those meant for the strong who can handle it. 

Ultimately what’s more important is that you do something because you love doing it and it gives you a sense of fulfillment.  The under-appreciation of people in what you do is therefore irrelevant.  It’s just a nice bonus if they do so, but if you really love what you’re doing, it won’t even matter.

Fortunately for my team we eventually got the recognition that was long overdue.  I’m really happy for us because we finally got the recognition we deserve; our award is rightly shared with several generations of team members that have come and gone over the years who have helped build the reputation of the team and contributed to its success.  We wouldn’t be where we are now without the long history of unwavering great work which was its own reward as far as we were concerned.

Of course this recognition also means one thing: The reward for good work is more work – and more work it is!  When you’ve developed a reputation for making success happen then more work comes your way.  The good thing is its work that we enjoy doing anyway (at least for the most part), so things are looking up for us.

Don’t let under-appreciation demoralize you.  Whether it is work or something else you need to do that’s important, love what you do and do it as best as you can.  (Though don’t forget that you are more than just your work, of course.)  Eventually people will realize the effort you put into it and appreciate you for it – and it’s those people who appreciate you who will ultimately matter in your life. 

Categories: Ideas and Philosophy

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