One of my wonderful readers left a great comment on a recent post Are You Reliable at Work?
He mentioned that he felt too reliable at work.
I have to admit when I was writing the post this exact thought occurred to me as well.
Sometimes we can be so reliable that we are taken for granted.
Sometimes our managers/bosses/co-workers or companies count on us a little too much to get the job done.
Here are some common work scenarios, see if you can relate to any of them.
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Managers treat staff differently
I once worked for a manager who spent an incredible amount of time complimenting one of my colleagues yet rarely ever praised me despite the fact that I performed large volumes of high-quality work.
One day I was curious and asked him about it. He replied that my co-worker needed a lot of compliments to do her job, while I did the job regardless of whether he complimented me or not.
Because I was reliable, efficient, and worked without the need for outside validation, he focused on the person who had to be patted on the back constantly to get the job done.
The reliable people support the deadwood
Big companies in particular usually have a lot of deadwood.
I hate to sound harsh but deadwood is particularly prevalent in large government departments.
What do I mean by that expression? Deadwood is a term used for people who aren’t pulling their weight, who aren’t contributing as much as they should be. Basically, they do just what is required or underperform.
They are generally not interested in being promoted or learning anything new, they simply want to stay in the same place doing as little as possible for as long as possible.
Meanwhile, everyone else around them has to take up the slack.
More work-related content to explore –
- How to Be Happy at Work
- How to Cope When Your Contract has Not Been Renewed
- Are You Suffering from Corporate Restructure Fatigue?
- 12 Types of People You Will Talk to About Work
- Are You Talking Too Much at Work?
You end up doing everybody else’s work
Because you are reliable you end up doing your job as well as other people’s. While it’s great to help people out, there is a limit to how much you can do without burning out or feeling resentful.
My friend Craig from Time Management Ninja wrote an excellent post on this particular topic – How to Avoid Doing Everyone Else’s Job
Companies don’t cross-train because they feel they don’t need to
Some of the problems associated with being taken for granted are linked to working for the same company for a long time.
When you have worked for a company for a long time, they get used to you performing at a high standard. They get used to you working in your area of expertise which can mean that they fail to cross-train anyone else in your position.
While feeling indispensable can make you feel valued it can also lead to problems.
People often fail to take annual leave because they feel that no one can fill their role while they are away or worse they fear that someone will fill it, do a terrible job and they will spend precious time and energy when they return getting everything back on track.
People may even stay working for a company much longer than they should because they fear the company won’t survive without them.
Being the go-to person
Every office usually has a go-to person, there is probably one on each floor or in each department. Often these people have been with the company for a long time and are a fountain of knowledge.
They can also be relied upon a little too much and taken for granted.
It can be hard to get your own work done when you are constantly being asked questions. Some people will ask you the same question over and over again.
It’s easier to ask the go-to person for an answer than to actually learn the knowledge themselves.
Not only is the go-to person expected to answer questions but people often want them to do the work as well.
You always work back late
With redundancies and staff cutbacks most people I know are working longer hours to get the job done.
If you get known for being a person who always works back late, some people may manipulate this situation. People may stroll out the door dumping work on you knowing that you will stay until its done.
Before you know it, working back late every night becomes the norm, and your health, social life, and home life suffer as a result.
Managers don’t respect your life out of the office
People sometimes assume I am always available because I’m not married and don’t have children.
Just to be clear I mean no disrespect to people with children here but it does annoy me that people get to leave the office to pick up their kids while I am expected to stick around because I don’t have any.
Just because I don’t have kids or a partner doesn’t mean I don’t have places to be.
This situation can also be a case of bad management.
One manager I worked for had a habit of always expecting me to be available long after 5 (which was the time I was supposed to be leaving). Because part of her standard day was to work on certain projects from 5 – 7 pm, she would purposely leave work to the end of the day or to the last-minute and then expect me to stay back with her to get the work done.
It never occurred to her that I was supposed to go home.
Your boss is also your friend
Boundaries are important at work (and life in general). Sometimes when the boss is also our personal friend those boundaries can get a little blurred.
Being close friends with the boss can mean you might have a harder time asking for a raise or standing up for yourself (particularly if they know a lot about your personal life outside the office).
Certain people may even manipulate your friendship to get what they want.
Having boundaries doesn’t mean you can’t go that extra mile for your boss or company.
In one of my previous roles, I occasionally took care of my manager’s house and his wife’s cat while they were overseas on business. Despite the fact that I stayed in his house and even socialized with him regularly we still kept our professional boundaries in place.
The key to not being taken for granted at work is similar to the one we use in other areas of our life – being assertive without being rude, arrogant, or aggressive.
Of course, this isn’t always quite as easy as it sounds when we are stressed, overworked, or in fear of losing our jobs.
Take pride in your work and do the best job possible but be on the lookout for being too reliable at work.
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Head over and read Are You Reliable? which deals with being reliable in your personal relationships.