dependable at work

Being too dependable at work can be unhealthy. 

We see “being dependable” in job descriptions, resumes, in the way we describe the overworking dependable team members. For workplaces, having a team that is dependable is considered one of the foundations of team engagement and collaboration.  Yet, being dependable, especially to one that does not have a healthy workplace culture can be detrimental to your well-being.

Despite workplace issues, many want to be team players and loyal to work together for the collective good of the job. 

I can relate to becoming too dependable in the workplace. For years I did that in my previous work life. I followed the traditional workplace expectations, overdelivering, and overextended myself.

You may be familiar with the drill…

  • Being the Go-to, jack of all trades for the company. Taking on the responsibilities of other’s work (plus yours).
  • Asked to oversee all the special projects in all areas and departments.
  • Being available during vacation/personal time.
  • No top management support, so filling in when needed.

Then one day I stopped. The result was that I was burned out and truthfully there was little appreciation and not aligning with my purpose.

Yes, I showed up every day. I did MY work but all the extras that were not my responsibility, stopped.

Now, being a dependable employee is great and essential for the workplace.

As a dependable employee it is good to:

  • Show up on time and have great work ethics, can perform and take responsibility for their work.
  • They are honest and trustworthy
  • Be a team player and be supportive to other team members

While these are essentials skills and traits, being dependable becomes unhealthy when you are doing the following:

1. You start over supporting team members and management.

Before you know it, you are doing your work and filling the gap for everyone else’s. Helping and filling in occasionally is part of being in a team but when others in your team and management are no longer contributing it becomes unhealthy. High performing teams are collaborative, where each team member is challenged, and together they deal with successes & adjustments. When you take on too much, you are tilting the scale and carrying your team

2. You are constantly being interrupted and pulled into different directions.

Guidance and support are great between teams but there must be proper systems and training so that you are not the go-to for everything. If there are constant interruptions for guidance and help, impromptu meetings, your productivity can suffer by doing too much.

3. You are available during off hours and your time off, always reliable.

There are no boundaries as to when you are available for work. During vacation, you answer that email, call or text when something just can’t wait until your return. A healthy workplace respects your time off and privacy and have proper systems in place during their team members time off.

4. You begin to take too much responsibility, or feel responsible for the actions or lack thereof of other’s performances and the outcome.

Over dependable people see themselves as taking on the responsibility of others and their work performance.  We should take responsibility for our work and collectively work toward a common goal. Yet, it is not your responsibility if your colleague doesn’t show up for days and the project fails.

5. You are not saying no and creating boundaries, causing stress. 

The belief that you SHOULD do the added work and responsibilities impacts your self-esteem and can create stress. It is a constant need of validation that you need to prove you are worthy enough and keeping up with the unreasonable expectations that they placed on you. For others, it is the fear of demotion, age, fear of job loss — the need to feel a sense of insecurity. The stress factor of worrying about these issues can lead some to the point of burnout.

This is all too common.

This is a common theme I see and what I’m now supporting my clients to start changing this behavior and what’s not working for them.

They have been frustrated and “safe” -trying to fit it, overdelivering, overpromised and receive truly little appreciation (some friends not enough compensation!).

Finding what they truly deserve and is in alignment with them, and consulting with clients that are leaders- help them support and create a healthy workplace for their small team.

If you identify with this story, you have skills and gifts that should be valued! A few ways to start:

  1. Be assertive. Assertive is not being rude, it is being direct and firm on your expectations and boundaries.  Remain as a  team player but vocalize what your capabilities are and what additional support you may need.
  2. Make the effort to divide responsibilities and workload. This can mean letting others take responsibility for their actions (or lack thereof).  It doesn’t mean you can’t help or take on additional projects. Its being conscious of what is within your scope of responsibility and what isn’t – that you can choose to handle.
  3. Consider a change in career. What would it mean to you to be where your values and area of expertise are more aligned and to your level?  Sometimes leaving that workplace that’s not supporting you is the only answer. It needs to be a collaborative effort to respect and change.

Finally, there’s no time or age limit to make these changes in your career. You can start today.

Have you seen this behavior in yourself or colleagues?

If so, if you are ready to get started with coaching support to get to the next level contact me today to schedule a free consultation.

#mindset #midcareer #womeninbusiness #worklifebalance #executivecoaching