How being the best at your job can actually damage your career

You’re great at what you do and now you want a promotion. Trouble is you only went and inadvertently made yourself irreplaceable thinking that was a smart move but guess what…..

You’re IRREPLACEABLE! It’s not just a fancy term to let everyone else know you’re amazing – it’s actually your reality and, ironically, can be a living nightmare. You are so good at your job and no-one else can do it as good as you can so your bosses have a big headache; move you into the other role you want to keep you happy but there’s a greater risk to the overall business because no-one will be able to achieve the same results you did in the previous role OR protect the overall business and risk upsetting you by not giving you the promotion??

What would you do if you were the boss? Maybe you already are! Maybe you’ve faced this situation already – if so, I’d love to hear from you as to how you dealt with it and what the outcome was.

When I 1st started to have genuine ambitions of being promoted, I did what I imagine most do in the same situation and started reading and digesting as much as possible about leadership and achieving promotions. The main point that stood out is the focus of this blog – it’s proven to be great advice for my own career (and others I know) so I want to pass it forward….

Don’t make yourself irreplaceable as you’ll never be replaced

You may well be logically thinking that it’s not your responsibility to solve this issue – that’s what your bosses get paid to do right? Yes, you are right but it certainly won’t do your chances of promotion any harm if you can show your bosses that there’s someone ready and able to step into your shoes; if anything, it’ll prove to them that you’re the right person because you’re putting the needs of the company ahead of your own ambitions. So – how can you help yourself??

It will require self-confidence, unwavering belief in your worth, sound judgement and time in your schedule because what you’ll need to do is…find & train your replacement. The BIG question is whether that’ll make you fearful of making yourself personally redundant or whether you understand this is the only way to make sure you can successfully move up the ladder and not be called back down it at a later point. Whichever way you see it, you’re not wrong and you’ll most likely manifest the outcome you see in your mind.

I’m not necessarily suggesting that it’s you who actually puts together the training program, delivers it and tracks the ongoing progress until the finish. If you have the time, inclination and skills to do so – there’s a benefit to doing so as your bosses will take great confidence that the Master has personally delivered the training. However, as long as you know a potential successor (s) has been identified and a plan is being put together to train them to take over from you, that’s still essentially addressing the hurdle – you are NOT irreplaceable meaning you can move up the ladder!

If you’re already a leader then you’ll know (or you should do) that you’re failing as a leader if you’ve made yourself irreplaceable so that the company cannot get the same results without you being there. You’re also failing if you’ve not already identified potential future leaders amongst the existing staff as, again, that is one of the key aspects of successful leadership – building other leaders.

In summary, if you have ambitions to climb the ladder then DON’T be so great at your job that no-one else can ever achieve the same results and make sure there’s a genuine replacement ready to take your spot when you take the one above.

Having achieved a number of promotions during my career, I can give you sound advice about how, as an employee, you can achieve the same or, if you’re an employer, I can also give you guidance about how best to enable promotions for your staff.

It’s not difficult to get in touch – especially if you’re already on the site reading this 😁