3 Ways to Make Yourself Expendable

Make yourself expendable
How to make yourself expendable

We work in an environment of nearly constant change.  Technology has not only changed the way we do virtually everything, the rate of change increases at a more rapid rate every day.

For those who work in technology, the job market is pretty good these days.  Despite what are considered high unemployment numbers for the nation as a whole, if you work in technology, you’re most likely in high demand.

A good job market is like a middle-aged man in a Hawaiian shirt.  It hides a lot of sins.

When demand is high, some people tend to get lazy.  They may assume the market will be good for a long time and resist changes.

How to make yourself expendable

Even if you have a skill that is in demand, there are many ways to make yourself expendable.  Here are three:

  • Never adopt to new changes. Let’s say you’re a developer with your company with a technology that is in fair demand.  A new development language or technique has been introduced to your company and they would like you to learn it.  Instead of learning it, you brush it off.
    Granted, there are a lot of fads in technology and most never make it into the mainstream.  But one needs to have an open mind about emerging technologies to allow for legitimate new approaches. The next .NET may be out there.
  • Be inflexible. People are creatures of habit.  Some more than others.  When one gets into such a routine that they are too rigid to work with others, others may no longer wish to work with them.
    Consider a project manager who determines the tasks to be completed for a project.  Those tasks are given a sequence and assigned to a member of the team.  As the project evolves, people may get behind on their tasks, dependencies may change and some people may even finish their tasks early. As these changes occur, it would make sense for the project manager to reassess the sequencing and assignments.
    Another project manager may resist making changes to her project plan.  They may insist that the original plan stay as it is, causing some people to wait unproductively while other tasks are completed.
  • Communicate poorly. There are many ways to communicate poorly.  The best way is to not communicate at all.  Simply work in a vacuum.  Don’t answer emails, don’t share your knowledge or any information about what you’re working on.
    Another way to communicate poorly is to miscommunication.  If someone asks you a question, answer it with the least amount of information possible.  Alternatively, you can be misleading.  Tell half-truths that lead people to believe something other than the truth.

Insecurities cause people to hoard information and resist change.  These actions cause organizations to suffer with slow productivity at best and major setbacks at worst.

See my related post: New Management: 3 Ways to Deal with It

At some point, the organization may realize that they are receiving less value than the salaries they are paying for some people.  That’s when anti-productive people are deemed expendable.

If you don’t like change, you’re going to like irrelevance even less.”  – General Eric Shinseki, secretary of veterans’ affairs.

If you would like to learn more about working in consulting, get Lew’s book Consulting 101: 101 Tips for Success in Consulting at Amazon.com

As always, I welcome your comments and criticisms.

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