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Don't Be Indispensable, Be Useful!

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Don't Be Indispensable, Be Useful!

To be indispensable is not a quality — it's a defeat. You must fight against it!

· Agile Zone ·
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I remember at the beginning of my career hearing several times as a compliment on a colleague that he was indispensable. That without him we wouldn't be able to do the job and that he's the only one who can do his job. I listened to it with great astonishment, feeling very alone in finding it just as dramatic for everyone.

What Is Indispensable Is Useless

Indeed, someone indispensable testifies to a certain number of defects and will suffer a certain number of worries. The indispensable person is certainly autonomous, but it is indeed his only quality. In my opinion, this reflects an inability to delegate, to share, to work as a team, which brings a whole series of problems. What happens when the essential person goes on holiday? Fall ill? Resigning? This supposed quality turns into a nightmare the day it happens. Explain to your hierarchy that you can no longer deliver anything in production because Robert is not available. It is the superior of this indispensable person who will be blamed. I want to go further. Imagine that you are the owner of a company (a development company, a consulting company, or any other company) and that you are essential. What happens if you get sick? What do you tell your employees if this happens? That you just close your company? What will happen to you the day you return from illness? In general, in very large companies, disaster scenarios are anticipated as soon as the CEO is appointed. The CEOs are committed to making it easy to hand over whatever the scenario. Including the accidental death of the CEO. Do you still want to be indispensable? Ah and I forgot, if you are indispensable, don't expect an exciting career, you will stay in your position forever. It's up to you!

Indispensable Is Risky

On the other hand, by doing not being indispensable for everything, you not only improve the resilience of your company, but you also allow your team to be much more adaptable and flexible. You make your job and that of your colleagues less boring, more challenging, and you reduce the negative effects of routine. You are much freer from your time management and planning, you can rely on your colleagues if you get tired or if you have a lot of work at one time. In short, you too will be much more resilient.

What to Do?

So what can we do to make ourselves "dispensable"? One of the keys will be communication and sharing. For this reason, my first message is to say to my colleagues "Indispensable is an insult! It's clear enough to be understood. Then I make sure that my colleagues are in the loop of all my emails. Either I put them in cc of all the emails I send, and if necessary I forward them the emails I receive. Then, I share my meeting minutes via Onenote (which allows several people to be on the same OneNote) so that everyone is aware of what has been said. Also, in Onenote sharing, I document the things I do regularly, including my workshop templates for recurring meetings. I would like to point out that you can replace OneNote with a wiki, Evernote, or any tool of the same style. In fact, I do everything as if I were going on vacation the next day. If you are a person who is sensitive to tragedy, imagine that you are going to die tonight, what would you do to avoid putting your colleagues in trouble?

What Qualities Do I Need?

To me, you have to be useful to your colleagues, keep your "community of colleagues" alive, by organizing sharing meetings, organizing the day before, doing team building, seeing what can be improved, etc...It may be quite a classic, but it's what will allow you to grow and make your team grow! In a way, be an unofficial scrum master!


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