Deliberately making yourself replaceable in your role sounds completely counterintuitive. Why would you want to make it easier for someone to replace you in your job? Isn’t that ultimately setting yourself up for failure?
It makes sense, in theory, to make yourself as irreplaceable as possible, it helps you appear more valuable to your company or, if you own a business, it ensures you remain in control as much as possible.
However, being irreplaceable also poses a consistent, indivisible problem: If you’re the only one who can do your job, you’re going to remain the only one doing your job.
Making yourself more replaceable in your business or role is actually one of the best decisions you can make in your career, whether you own a business or work in a corporate environment.
Sharing your expertise and skills with employees or colleagues can benefit you as well as the business. Read on to learn more about why you should work to make yourself more replaceable in your business.
Replaceable is not the same as redundant
The most common fear is that making yourself more replaceable in your role means that you’re no longer the only one able to do your job, therefore you’re not as valuable to the business as you once were. This thinking stems from a scarcity mindset – the idea that there is a limited, set number of jobs available and once they’re taken, they’re taken.
But this isn’t the case, new jobs and positions become available consistently, provided demand for that role persists. Making yourself replaceable in your company opens the door to new opportunities, particularly if you’re actively demonstrating to the company that you’re ready for a change or promotion by training a replacement.
There are also benefits to making yourself replaceable if you’re a business owner. If you own a business, investing the time and resources necessary to train one or several employees to be able to do what you do will allow you to take some necessary time off with the security of knowing your business is in capable hands while you’re away.
And if you decide to retire, you’ll be able to pass the business onto a competent employee who you know has the abilities to run it efficiently.
The benefits of being more replaceable
Working to become replaceable requires you to share knowledge, insight and skills you’ve picked up working in your role with others, which will ultimately enhance the business. If you’re an employee with ambitions to work your way up the corporate ladder, this demonstrates to your supervisors that you have leadership qualities.
On top of this, making yourself replaceable means you have the opportunity to take on new challenges and further develop your skill set.
By sharing your capabilities with others, you have more time to focus on other problems that you wouldn’t normally handle in your role. This gives you a chance to leverage your creativity and experience in new ways, and offer new ideas that might inspire others.
Ultimately, replaceability doesn’t lead to irrelevancy in the workplace. It’s an opportunity to evolve, develop new skills and take on new challenges.
How to make yourself more replaceable in your business
- Document everything
Documenting your processes, policies and other vital information is essential if you want to be more replaceable. Start the process of recording everything you do and use in your day-to-day responsibilities (software, tools, passwords, shortcuts, ideas, brainstorm sessions, etc.).
Having everything on record will make it easier once you begin to train and mentor others and will act as a single source of truth as their training progresses. Make sure all files and documents are accessible on a cloud-based storage system, so any team members can access the information they need.
- Train and support
Being replaceable means being willing to share everything you know, no matter how hard-earned it might be.
If you can’t identify anyone else in your team or organisation who can do what you do, either approach a supervisor to discuss it or find someone willing to learn from you. Offer to spend time teaching and training one or several people on tasks related to your role.
Be a mentor to people learning from you and make the time to answer their questions and help them if they need it. Doing this will help you gain more visibility from supervisors if you’re an employee and, if you’re a business owner, will help reinforce employees’ loyalty to the business.
- Delegate tasks
If you’re the only person capable of doing what you do, it might be tempting to want to retain control over every decision and task you have, but you need to shift your mindset from doing to leading. This means letting go of complete control and delegating important tasks to others.
Allowing a colleague or employee you’re training to make decisions shows you trust them and will boost their confidence in their abilities. You can start by delegating smaller tasks and, as their skills and experience develop, eventually larger decisions regarding more high-level operations.
Making yourself replaceable in your business will set you, and the business, up for greater long-term success. Recording all of your tasks, sharing your skills with other employees and delegating responsibilities will create opportunities for you in other positions, while simultaneously improving the internal processes within your organisation.