In various marketing and entrepreneurship courses you learn it’s important to stand out from the crowd. To be different. To make yourself irreplaceable. Sounds great, right? Being indispensable. Ensured of having a job. For today, tomorrow and next year. Still, the last few months as a government employee, I did the exact opposite: I tried to make myself redundant.
And that’s how I ended up doing my fulltime job in only 10 hours a week..
Why make yourself redundant?
Every task or project has a starting point. When I just started working it was: ‘How can I finish this task or project?’. Later, I added ‘and how can I ensure the results?’. In the last few months I added a third — essential — piece:
How can I finish this task or project, ensure the results, while making myself redundant for the future?
How do I execute it so I’m not needed anymore? Can I involve (and teach) others in what I do? Can I automate repeating tasks. Can I delegate things? And how do I eliminate the unnecessary (like e-mail)?
These were examples of questions I started asking myself. Why did I want to make myself redundant? Because the opposite — to make yourself irreplaceable — is, when you think about it, actually pretty sad.
A different mindset
Being indispensable gives a feeling of power. Others need you. Without you, progress is impossible. It boosts our self esteem. I’m sure you recognize this. So, we end up keeping as much work to ourselves as possible. To make yourself redundant aks for a change in mindset.
Accomplish something together, is way more fun than do it all by yourself.
To let go, share and delegate are difficult things. Maybe someone else will get the credits. Do it in a different way. A way that definitely isn’t better than your method. And sharing, means you’re not the only one who knows how to get the job done.
Odd, scary and a bit uncomfortable at first. I get it.
A different way of collaborating
Back in the day the adage was: ‘Knowledge is power’. Luckily, that has changed into: ‘Sharing knowledge is power’. But despite everyone knows this to be true, we still work out of the old paradigm.
What we do daily, and call ‘our work’, is heavily dependent on knowledge and information. Actually, knowledge and information are our work. What’s tricky about this, it’s not physically tangible. And how do you own something you can’t hold, touch or feel, but is actually yours?
The key is to start small. Experiment. Try it with one small task or project. With someone you trust.
Tell me, and I forget..
Show me, and I may not remember..
Involve me, and I understand..
Hopefully, you will soon recognize my experience. That others like it if you share what you know. And appreciate you for doing so.
When you make knowledge and information accessible to others, something remarkable happens. Ideas start to evolve. Lead to new ideas. And thinking outside the box? If it’s even possible, you definitely have to do it together. So why keep things hidden in our inboxes and encrypted folders?
Transparency is the way to go.
It’s useless to sit behind a laptop and be brilliant on your own. If you don’t share, nothing happens.
It saves hours of ‘playing gatekeeper’ and continuously breaking your head over who already has what information, still needs to receive or what he or she is allowed to have.
A different way of leadership
Funny thing is: making yourself redundant doesn’t ask for a different way of leadership. It creates it. By itself. Because others feel more involved in what you do, it becomes ‘our work’. Our projects. Our results. At the same time it increases autonomy.
Another change, where usually the one with the most knowledge and information was the leader, now the group itself is the leader.
Ofcourse you can choose someone who looks after the process of the project, but it’s not dependent on one person. We help each other. Together we ensure the success.
From 40 to 10 hours a week
A change in mindset, leads to another way of collaborating, to a shift in leadership, and saves everyone A LOT of time.
If we less desperately hold on to our knowledge and information. If we dare to let go, share and delegate. Remarkable things can happen. I’m absolutely convinced of that. It makes our working life more easy, effective, valuable, sustainable, and most of all, more fun. For yourself and others around you.
Once in a while, ask yourself: ‘How can I make myself redundant in this project? Can I involve others in what I do. What can I share? Automate? Delegate? Or even eliminate?
I decreased my 40 hour full time job to only 10 hours a week by asking these questions. The best part? The yearly evaluation reports on my performance were higher than ever…
Last bot not least, I can hear you thinking: ‘What do you do with the 30 hours you’ve won back?’
To be honest, that’s up to you. Want to lay on a beach drinking beer, go for it. I decided to find out what other things I liked and could contribute to. Because as you know, there’s always something to do.
If you want to share your thoughts, tips, have questions or just want to reach out: use the comments below or send me a personal message
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