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Work Yourself Out of Your Job: A Perspective on Job Performance

I have been thinking about job performance related mindsets for a while and want to try to clarify one of my opinions on a certain idea. For the last few years I have believed in the concept of "working yourself out of your job." When I've tried to explain it in passing to those I know, I don't seem to be able to explain it in a way that doesn't get strange looks.

What does it mean to work yourself out of your job?

Working yourself out of your job means going through the following steps:

  1. You meet expectations
  2. You exceed expectations
  3. You eliminate yourself

I know what you're thinking, step 1 and 2 are obvious but step 3... Why the hell would you want to replace yourself? Trust me its better than it sounds. To begin to explain what I mean, I will show you some examples of replacing yourself.

  • Your job mainly involved resolving issues which you have permanently eliminated (or mostly mitigated in some fashion)
  • You have automated a massive amount of your duties
  • You have built a strong self-sustaining team
  • You have developed systems to recreate your results more efficiently (maybe outsourced or performed by more junior level staff)
  • Your skill becomes so valuable it's better used elsewhere

Now that you're starting to understand where I am coming from. Let's look at a high level view of the other steps or mindsets.

Someone who meets expectations

  • Probably won't get fired
  • Slow and steady career development
  • Maintains companies/systems/departments

Someone who exceed expectations

  • Advances quickly in their career
  • Leads people and teams
  • Improves companies/systems/departments

Someone who replaces themselves

  • Has their choice of jobs
  • Inspires people and teams
  • Creates new companies/systems/departments (or eliminates existing ones)

I will end this thought for now by asking a few questions. Why maintain processes which could be eliminated? Fix things that could be solved permanently? Or do things that could be automated or delegated easily?

It's not as much about having to work yourself out of a job literally but the mindset will surely bring you and those associated better results.

Neil Bryan
IT Consultant & Technical Trainer
Neil Bryan is an IT consultant and technical trainer specializing in VMware, Citrix and Microsoft virtualization and infrastructure.

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