Bosses love reliable employees. Clients and customers seek out dependability. Friends and family know who to call in a pinch. There is nothing wrong with being reliable. More people should practice that art because being reliable is an awesome trait. At work, however, the scales can tip and you can be too reliable.
There’s a common theme I hear in my coaching practice and it goes something like this: “I am a good employee. I’m there on time. I work late. I do my work. I’m reliable and do what my manager needs me to do so why is someone else getting the promotion?”
Sadly, you may be taken advantage of and nothing can make you feel more inferior than when you think someone is taking advantage of you. Feeling that your value is overlooked or that your boss doesn’t notice your contributions should send up a red flag.
Dangers of Being Too Reliable at Work
You Become a Pushover
It’s normal to want to please your boss or co-workers but there are people who will take advantage of your good nature. If you continually accept this treatment, your manager or co-workers will dump their work on you because, well, you’re reliable and always get it done.
You Support the Slackers
Not everyone’s performance is the same. Sometimes there’s dead weight – people who don’t contribute as much as they should. If the work needs to get done, someone must pick up that slack. Because you are the reliable one, you end up doing work that someone else should be doing. While it’s great to pitch in, there is a limit to how much you can do without feeling annoyed.
Your Productivity Sucks
Are you the go-to person? There’s usually at least one in every office. They generally have a great deal of historical knowledge but when you are constantly being interrupted by questions, your productivity can take a hit. You may feel overwhelmed and tugged in multiple directions as requests for help or input come in.
You Work A Lot of Overtime
If your productivity suffers because you’re the go-to person, the office is short-staffed, or you are making up for slackers, you may find that you’re working more overtime than you realistically should be working. It’s probably more common to work overtime than not at some point in your career. There are priorities that pop up and projects that must get done. The eight-hour day doesn’t always cut it. However, if work is regularly intruding upon your nights and weekends, you should feel free to reclaim a normal work schedule – particularly if you are not being paid for your overtime.
Your Time Out of the Office is Not Respected
There are certain positions in which you need to be available in times of emergency. Sometimes, however, work can wait. I once had a boss who would send emails at off-hours throughout the weekend and then chastise his staff if people did not respond back to him immediately. There were no emergencies. It was simply the power of wanting to control every aspect of his employees’ personal time. That’s not right in any circumstance. You have a right to privacy out of the office.
You’re Still Waiting on a Raise or Promotion
If your boss repeatedly promises that a pay increase or promotion is coming but it doesn’t happen, you’re getting jerked around. Unless there is a company-wide freeze on salary increases, there is something else going on. Sometimes people who are too reliable won’t make waves and people such as your boss won’t make you a priority. Out of sight, out of mind.
You Attract the Wrong Kind of People
Reliable people can often attract the wrong kind of people. While kindness and respect are the foundations of healthy work relationships, an inability to set proper boundaries can be an invitation to attract needy people or those who might be overly emotional, negative, or those who feel the need to manipulate or control others.
An effective career strategy isn’t about being the most reliable person in the office. There’s more to it than that. Here are some ideas to consider to get that work done but maintain your cred at the same time:
Communicate – Do what you have to do and if it can’t get done as initially planned, communicate the new timelines. Got an idea? Speak up and engage others in it. In a professional manner openly having conversations that keep others in the loop with things rather than silently letting them build up can result in your work boundaries being understood more clearly and respected.
Share Knowledge with Co-Workers – Don’t want to be the one that everyone comes running to all the time? Take a moment to share knowledge when possible so that others can do certain tasks as well.
Stay out of the Gossip Mode – Sometimes it is tempting, especially when we feel we are not being treated correctly to gossip and exchange thoughts with the wrong people, making the situation worse not better. Try to keep it to yourself and if you do have a grievance, why not consider taking it up professionally with a person that can actually affect the outcome?
Keep Professional – Regardless of situations at work, the ability for you to keep your emotions under control and remain rational and professional will go a long way in gaining you respect.
Stand Up for Yourself – Sometimes it is important to just let things go and “choose your battles” as the saying goes. However, that being said, do speak up for yourself when it is appropriate. This goes a long way in not only gaining respect from others, but feeling good about yourself.
Final Thought – Being a great worker is an incredible asset and with the proper amount of self confidence to maintain your boundaries, you will be invaluable to any workplace so go for it!
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