Ever wanted a promotion? How about going on a vacation without work tagging along? Want to learn a new position at work? The key is to be dispensable. For ages people have tried to make themselves indispensable, attempting to avoid lay-offs or seeking ways to be worth more to the company. This strategy doesn’t work, as companies have proven time and time again, everyone is replaceable. And if you try to be irreplaceable, that’s all the more reason for companies to try and replace you. This starts off my first point about being dispensable:
Don’t hoard information. It’s incredibly frustrating to have knowledge or expertise bottled up in one person, and it doesn’t make good business sense. Companies don’t want to have to rely on one person to get something done. What if that person wants to go on vacation? What if something unexpected happens? What if they quit? Because of that, companies will strive to look to disperse knowledge among more than one employee. Additionally, if you are an information hoarder, your boss will have a tough time justifying why you should be promoted.
Keep others up-to-date. Information changes quickly, and it’s important to keep others apprised of the status of a project or what’s happening in a department. If your team, stakeholders, and customers are clear on the status, it allows you more flexibility to be gone. No one is trying to get a hold of you because they are uncertain about what the next step is.
Don’t solve people’s problems. If you’re like me, sometimes it’s nice to play hero and save the day. But playing the hero too often can result in you being the team’s crutch; they are unable to solve problems on their own. I heard John Maxwell say that he doesn’t allow his team to come to him with a problem unless they also come to him with possible solutions. Push it back on the team to solve, but be their guide. Then you won’t have to worry about your team becoming complacent, lazy, or incapable of solving problems.
Keep everyone on the same page. Once, before I went on vacation, I meticulously laid out everything that was happening, along with the latest statuses, priorities, etc. for the person covering me. What I didn’t do was go to each team member who was working on a critical task and ensure they understood my expectations. This resulted in a lot of fire-fighting when I was gone and when I got back. Take the time to verify all team members have the same perspective on priorities, upcoming tasks, etc.
Train your replacement. Of course, the most effective way to get promoted is to train your replacement. Or, even train a couple of people to replace you. As you delegate more and more of your job away, it frees you up so that your boss can delegate more and more of their job to you. It gives you more bandwidth to take on special projects or initiatives, which can get you visibility for a promotion. Always be watching for the person you want to replace you!
Don’t find yourself out of a job because you spent so much time trying to be indispensable. Instead, build a team where knowledge is shared freely and everyone can support one another. This allows you to have a lot more flexibility and freedom and opens the doors to possibilities.
Jana Axline is Chief Project Officer at Project Genetics and the author of Becoming You. Through her leadership musings, she inspires audiences to grow as leaders and ultimately achieve who they were created to be. For more information visit Project Genetics.
2 thoughts on “Be Dispensable”
The suggestions here are so contrary to what is being followed in the corporate world I work in… And it is making me feel I am completely tuned out of reality.
Hi Shrikant! Meaning you find yourself in an environment where people hoard information and there isn’t a lot of sharing of knowledge?