It’s nice to feel valued by your company. It’s especially rewarding to be told by your boss that you’re so good at what you do that you’ve become indispensable. What if you’ve become so essential that it actually hurts you and your company. Is that possible?
“Yes, you can be too essential at your job, and you can get pigeonholed at doing one function. Both of these possibilities will limit a person’s career. On the positive side, this tends to occur when someone is very good at a task or function.” – Angelo Kinicki, an organizational culture expert at Arizona State University
People specialize because they think it will help them become more hireable and ultimately help their employer. What specialization ends up doing is limiting your career growth to only lateral moves. If you end up missing out on promotions or projects outside your scope, it’s time to change things up.
Make a Change
It’s not easy to rock the boat but chances are your boss would rather you approach them about the issue instead of quitting out of unhappiness. Make sure that you are honest and prepared during this meeting.
“I recommend that the essential employee goes to their boss with their own plan to address the issue. They should start by identifying another project in their boss’s area that they’d like to learn more about or help with. 25 percent of the time, the [employee] could work on this new project, 25 percent training someone else on what the [employee] does and 50 percent of the time doing their own essential work.” says Elene Cafasso, President at executive coaching firm Enerpace Inc.
Cafasso says that, if approached correctly, the boss should be receptive to the plan. In this situation, all of the employee’s work will still get done, another employee will be trained without the boss being involved, and employee retention and engagement will increase.
Seek Out Help
In a best-case scenario, your boss will be happy you spoke up about your issue. There is a chance that your boss won’t be ready to give you up and may even get upset with you for asking. If that happens, don’t be afraid to go elsewhere for help.
“If your manager will not do anything to rectify the situation, I suggest talking to the boss of your boss or someone in human resources. Failure to act on your part will lead to further stagnation, in my experience,” says Kinicki.
Lynne Sarikas, executive director of the MBA Career Center at Northeastern University agrees. “If your manager is not open to this, remind them that if you were to give your notice tomorrow, they would have to find a solution in the next two weeks. You would prefer to stay with the company and offer a longer transition period. Don’t threaten. Let them know you want to stay, but tactfully point out the reality,” says Sarikas.
Stay Focused on Quality
If you’ve hit a brick wall with your boss it might be tempting to give less than 100 percent so your boss becomes less dependent on you. Don’t do this. You don’t want to go so far as to put your job on the line or tarnish your glowing reputation.
“Absolutely do not let the quality of your work suffer. High-quality work is your ticket to more responsibility,” says Sarikas.
So speak up! Go out there and help make your company more balanced!
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