Many great business minds talk about how truly great leaders work themselves out of a job. To a certain degree, this idea is true. The greatest minds in business are constantly looking to train their replacements so the organization can carry on long after they have left the helm. However, there is a difference between working with an eye to succession planning and simply becoming irrelevant in the workplace. Those who are irrelevant can be easily replaced by someone who is more talented, more educated, or more invested in the job, in the organization, and in the industry. Those who are irrelevant in the workplace share some of these characteristics.
They are not willing to change with the times
No generation of the last 50 years has caused such uproar in business as the Millennials have. Within the next 10 years, they will be the demographic in the highest demand not only as consumers but as employees as well. While it is possible to lose many of the outliers in broad generalizations, as whole this demographic is perplexing human resource managers across the board. They are interested in doing good rather than personal advancement. They feel the need to connect with their employers on an emotional level. They seek mentors and regular feedback in a way many senior employees are uncomfortable with. Resistance employees accustomed to the “old way” of doing business will quickly find themselves becoming irrelevant.
They resist growth
Nothing will perpetuate an employee’s decline faster than a resistance to personal and organizational growth. The employee who believes they always have the answer without exercising due diligence will not only lose credibility with their subordinates and peers, they will lose out on valuable opportunities to grow and improve. Gone are the days when the boss knew everything and subordinates only needed to blindly follow. Today’s unspoken rule of collaborative effort and open exchanges of ideas are designed to foster growth not only in the organization but in the individual employee. Resist it, and you will find yourself on the outside of the team.
They have unpredictable emotional responses.
Gossiping, starting rumors, unwarranted anger, or even overly-emotional responses to situations breed the distrust of peers and subordinates. No one wants to discuss problems with an employee who will have a disproportionate emotional response. As a result, these powder kegs are consistently left out of the loop of key decision making processes.
The good news is, irrelevance can be prevented using one simple trick – ask for help. Have the courage to seek out honest feedback from mentors, bosses and peers. Look at these interactions as opportunities for personal growth rather than attacks on your character. Check your emotional response at the door and suspend any belief that there is shame in admitting what you do not know. Instead, have the courage to identify the strengths you see in others and ask for help developing those strengths in your own life. Growth is often painful, but it is far less painful than becoming irrelevant.