We all derive self worth in different ways. We all need it and we all find ways to get it. Some of us use the dependence of our children, spouse, or pets as proof of our value. Some rely on the stares of pedestrians when driving past in their muscle car. Some of us convert likes or follows into worth. Some of us take on projects, and upon completion are rewarded. We use positions in politics, church, and organizations as tic marks proving our relevance to the world. This is no different in our industry and in your business. You need “your job” because it’s an important part of proving your significance. Your organization needs you.
This fact alone makes what I’m about to say next difficult to swallow. You’re disproportionately biased against the idea of being replaceable. And so, as proof of your worth, you “guard” certain responsibilities in your organization. You make them special to you. You make it hard for others to find, help with, and complete them. You find ways to make “your job” only executable by you. You might argue, but that’s because it’s subconscious. We all do it. After all, if someone else can do your job, what worth are you? That reality isn’t just bad for your paycheck, it’s bad for your self esteem.
So what’s wrong with finding your niche and digging in? Maybe nothing, as long as you understand the consequences. If every person at an organization does this, and it’s culturally acceptable across the organization, it equates to a bunch of comfortable people who aren’t progressing, and an organization not amounting to it’s potential. People aren’t sharing information, it’s being hoarded and aggrandized beyond its actual worth. This builds resentment. Since my hoarded info is more valuable (which I come to believe slowly over time) than your hoarded information, I’m worth more than you. Everyone digs in and builds walls around their jobs, spying uneasily into the next office over.
When people aren’t challenged they feel safe but miserable. Our primitive mind wants us to survive, and opts for safety. But that spark in us that makes us human longs for creativity, risk, and progress. So, let me introduce to you the concept of trying to fire yourself every day. It’s a giant leap towards vulnerability and self mastery. If you have the courage to do this, you’re going to be so much more valuable to yourself and your organization.
So how do you do it? First of all, what things can you just stop doing? Are you participating in ritualistic tasks that aren’t even necessary? Maybe you think they’re important, but remember, you’re biased. What things can you automate using technology? What can you delegate or partially delegate? How can you share your job with others? Will someone else do your job for you?
When you have a goal to fire yourself you ensure next level thinking and happiness in the workplace. When you disconnect your self worth from holding a position at your place of employ, you see where it actually lies, or forces you to find it. When you give up transparency to others in your organization you’ll gain their respect, empathy, and people will open up to you (you’ll make friends). As you “automate yourself away”, you’ve created value that you can be compensated for. As you’re no longer needed for tasks that can be automated you can start looking around for more meaningful projects to take on, which is stimulating.
Firing yourself can be scary if you’re not the boss, especially if you’re not transparent about what you’re doing. Have an open dialogue about your intentions. Go to your boss and tell them what you’re doing. Be strategic. And if you are the boss, use the reverse of this technique to your employees. For example, let’s say you plan to eliminate needing to input documents into a system by instead setting up a document parser. Let’s say you spend 10 hours a week doing this task at $20 an hour. $20*10 = $200 a week, or $10,400 a year.
Pose the question: “If I can find a way to save you $10,400 a year, would you pay me back some of that in the form of a raise? If I can eliminate this, what can I do instead, could I work on XYZ?”. This deal is attractive to both boss and employee. The boss gains efficiency forever and the employee gains a share of that, along with the satisfaction and stimulation that accompanies it. Imagine if every employee in your organization did this. Your company will run with increasingly fewer inputs, employees will feel empowered and fulfilled, and your business will be increasingly profitable.
The hard part is intertwined with my challenge to you: BE VULNERABLE. Behind vulnerability is growth. Find a way to build this concept into your company culture and you’ll be amazed at how quickly it will return you big dividends!