Do it yourself redundancy the smart way

THERE are three types of people in the world. Those who make things happen, those who watch things happen, and those who wonder what happened. In today’s workplace, the spectators and the dazed have short life spans. Which category are you in?

Being in the job of making things happen comes with a paradoxical element – if you get good results, you make yourself redundant. A risk? Well, if you’re one of those in the first category, no. Instead, it means moving onwards and upwards to better things.

What does “make yourself re-dundant” actually mean? It’s not about putting yourself in a position where your employer has no more use for you and shows you the door. Unless, of course, you want that. For example, the best management consultants and contractors aim to leave a legacy after they move on.

Making yourself redundant means being in a position where you have freed yourself up to move onto the next challenge. There’s so much to be done in today’s workplace that you can’t afford to stand still.

Consider the risks of not making yourself redundant. Firstly, the people behind you will become stifled and frustrated. All too often we see employees being held back by an over-controlling boss, only to seek opportunities elsewhere. The boss then spends a lot of time re-hiring, wondering why he or she has a turnover problem.

Secondly, if you don’t free your-self up, you’re of less use to your employer. Believe it or not, one of the reasons they’ve hired you is because they can see your potential to do more than your current role. In fact, they need you to be more available. And if you’re not seen to be growing yourself or your team, what’s the point? Especially if you’re creating a turnover problem.

A Perth-based telecommuni-cations company had three mid-level managers, each responsible for separate, but closely interdependent departments. Each department pre-sented its own challenges for the managers.

Interestingly, the one who got his challenges sorted quickly was the one who empowered his team, rather than just himself, to solve the problems, identified and created successors as the team grew, and therefore found time to build closer relationships with the other two departments. The result? That man-ager is now in charge of all three departments. His initial role is now being done by two people who report to him.

Many managers hold back from adopting this practice for a number of reasons. A fear that their people won’t be able to do as good a job as they can – a lack of trust. Or because they fear the opposite – their people will do a better job than they can and then they’ll be overtaken and out of a job – insecurity at its height. Or the boss may even fear that they won’t get the credit for the results.

The lesson here? Leading is not the same as doing. As Lao-Tau, the venerable Chinese philosopher says; “But of a good leader who talks little, when the work is done, his aim fulfilled, they will all say, ‘we did this ourselves.’”

The ones who will acknowledge your successful leadership are not the people who work for you, but the ones above you.

To make yourself redundant you need to implement the Be-Do-Have mindset.

First: Who you need to Be. Be confident in yourself that you are valuable to the organisation over

and above your current role. Know that you can grow yourself only if you grow others first. Know that

job security only comes through continually adding value.

Second: What you need to Do. Grow others by selecting and grooming those who can take over from you. Share information and decisions with them. Get them involved. Tell them you want them to take your job. At the same time, you need to look ahead for your next opportunity. If you don’t have a career goal, you’ll stay where you are, or worse, find yourself on the street.

I once worked with the director of a large consulting firm based in the UK. He had big plans to move to the US with the company but knew he couldn’t achieve them until he’d implemented a replacement for his current role. He kept challenging his managers to find successors for their roles, so that they could free themselves up to be available take over his job. He totally involved his managers in the strategic decisions being made at his level, so that when the successful incumbent ultimately took over the role, they were well versed. Smart move. When the successor did take over, the hand-over was quick and seamless. Actually, upon reflection, the handover was probably the 12-month period leading up to the switch, while they were still in their managerial roles.

Which leads us to Have. Have is the end-state, the goal. If you follow the Be and the Do, what you’ll have is new opportunities and new challenges. And more than likely, continued tenure.

As you climb the corporate ladder, rather than stomping on the fingers of the people below you, you need to be giving them a helping hand up.

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