Make your knowledge available to others!
While expertise in the work you do is essential, you don’t want to become the guardian of knowledge no one else possesses. This can lead to getting stuck doing the same thing day in and day out as you’re the only one who can do it. This leaves very little time to invest in you and expanding your own skills and knowledge. For this reason, make it a point to document and mentor others in what you do.
Knowledge is most useful when liberated and shared.
A quick online search about making yourself replaceable at work offers you articles about being irreplaceable or indispensable. To think that you should want to be replaceable sounds counter-intuitive – hear me out on this: to me, it’s not.
Our desire to feel needed is tied to our social nature as human beings. People want to feel needed. More specifically, they want to feel they are an important member of whatever groups they relate to. This is a natural feeling which has evolved in humans to ensure we maintain a useful role in our social and cultural groups.
I have found this desire to feel needed can be satiated without limiting personal progress.
Knowledge is power. Knowledge shared is power multiplied.
– Robert Noyce
With the expansion of our administrative team here at Web Applications, I found that by sitting down and documenting our processes, and carrying out training with the team, we were able to gain new insights into our working patterns and new areas where the team could assist in the running of the business. The process helped us identify skills gaps where we could develop and broaden our offering as an administrative team.
Once the team was running effectively, I found that I had the opportunity to develop the skills I’d never been able to find time for before. I could identify and invest in my own weaknesses, and in areas throughout the business where administrative functions could provide more benefit.
As these things played out, the mentoring and training of the team continued, meaning the administrative team here at Web Apps can boast many a string to their bow. We are now embedded in every aspect of the business and have a deep understanding of our processes and the reasons why they’re carried out the way they are. The team adopts the same example in their working practices, so we are all able to reap the rewards individually and offer a fuller service as a group.
Knowledge is like money; to be of value it must circulate, and in circulating it can increase in quantity and, hopefully, in value.
– Louis L’Amour
Ultimately, making yourself replaceable frees you up for more challenging responsibilities and growth opportunities.
Many of us know this truth deep down, but too few of us are acting upon it. Don’t hold yourself, or your peers back – become replaceable, and help your peers become replaceable, so they too can move on to bigger and better things, and achieve the promise that a successful career holds.