Why being indispensable will hinder your career

Why Being Indispensable Will Hinder Your Career

In c by Kate J Parker

………..and being dispensable will grow your career


• Are you the go to person in your workplace?
• Are you the only person who knows how to do your job?
• Does your boss panic when you go on holidays?
• Do colleagues with poorer performance get promoted ahead of you?
• Are you too busy to delegate or take on any new responsibilities?

If you answered yes to most of these questions, then you have likely been ‘stuck’ in a role for a long time. Despite what most people think, being indispensable hinders your career; whereas being dispensable will grow your career!

To understand this, we need to explore what being indispensable means.

One: You don’t demonstrate leadership potential

Leaders are thinkers, not doers. They are forward planners that strategically think weeks, months and years ahead. An important trait of a strategic thinker is developing the talent pipeline for the future.

If you are the only person able to do your role, you are not likely mentoring talented members of your team. This means you are not building the talent pipeline for your organisation.

Two: Your Manager Won’t Let You go

Being indispensable means you would leave a skills gap if you moved from your role. This makes it difficult for your manager to promote you because you will create more work for them!

If you have developed a member of your team, and they are able to step into your role, this makes you dispensable. In this scenario it is easy to promote you as there is someone to fill the skills gap you would leave behind.

Three: You Are Not Up-Skilling

Being indispensable and unable to delegate makes you a very busy person! Chances are you are so busy doing your current job, you haven’t had time to take on additional responsibilities that would further develop your skills, and demonstrate your ability to take on a larger role

In order to be promoted, you need to demonstrate you have the capability to do a larger role. It is difficult to do this if all your time is taken up doing your current role!

Four: You Become A Bottleneck In The Talent Pipeline

If you are in the same role for a long time and fail to demonstrate your ability to progress, you become a bottleneck in the talent pipeline. You will be blocking the people below you in the organisational structure from progressing their careers.

There will become a point where you will be re-appointed to allow another employee to upskill within your role. Your re-appointment will most likely be a sideways or downwards move. You may find yourself moving from role to role, but not progressing upwards for a long period of time.

How To Stop Being Indispensable

Becoming indispensable often happens when people progress from task based roles to management roles. Doing a range of tasks efficiently, does not make you are a great leader. Often when people make the move into management they fail to transition their mindset from doer to thinker.

The first action is to change the way you value your contribution: from productivity and efficiency, to direction and strategy. So instead of doing everything, you need to implement a strategy that will ensure all the tasks are completed efficiently, yet free you up to direct and plan.

Change the way you value your contribution: from productivity and efficiency; to direction and strategy

The next step is to coach your team to take on the tasks you no longer need to be doing. Once they are up-skilled, you can delegate with confidence.

Once you have delegated, let go of controlling the small details. Allow your team to make decisions. They may make mistakes, but that is part of learning and up-skilling.

Finally, it is time for you to take on additional projects. Talk to your manager about additional responsibilities or short term projects. This allows you to develop new knowledge and skills. It also demonstrates your value to the organisation and capability to grow and develop.

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