“Don’t be irreplaceable, if you can’t be replaced you can’t be promoted!”
Make yourself replaceable as a business owner
Are you replaceable? As a business owner, this question might have hurt the EGOISTIC nerve. Your response to this will undoubtedly be, “No, I can’t be replaced!” And it is quite natural, for you must be thinking how someone can possibly be efficient enough to replace you and run the business as smoothly as you have been doing. After all, we have been “programmed” to believe that the ones who are replaceable are weak and timid and they are likely to fail, for whatever they do is not sufficiently important or involved.
Having said that, I am here to tell you that being irreplaceable is a problem, a huge problem!
Don’t just shudder yet… Hear me out on this. I know it sounds unsettling initially, to think that you are willing to be replaceable. But after a thorough discussion in this chapter, however, I think you will be able to contemplate the benefits of being replaceable that make it a must for every business owner.
For those business owners who reckon they have built a company that is irreplaceable, it is more of a trap than a company. And trust me on this; you don’t want that kind of trap to choke your progress. Being a business owner necessitates a lot of things and one of them is ensuring that every feature of your business is systematized and synchronized. Is it important? Well, of course, it is important for sustaining the business itself and allowing it to grow.
“People come and people go.”
The saying does not exclude you too. You have to not only understand this but acknowledge it as well. Your task is to focus on empowering yourself yet make you replaceable by systematizing everything you do. Document the duties, entries, and other important logs that you perform. Hire contractors and other employees to comprehend the task that you are doing. If the hired help seems to be failing at it, don’t frown, just go back and fix the system. If they still cannot do it right, it is time you find someone who can.
Most people do not know this but the truth is the easier it is to replace you, the more saleable you will be and same applies to your company too. People love to work in the business they understand and feel connected to. When someone purchases your company, and that will be a happy day indeed, they will regard it more valuable if all they have to do is just take over the reins and it generates an appreciable amount of profit. However if you have made yourself irreplaceable, as a CEO or a business owner, and by any means your absence is likely to cause them struggle, the value will drop eventually.
Making yourself replaceable is to attain freedom.
The difference between an ordinary person (serviceman) and a successful business owner is that the latter one has the freedom to do whatever he wants to. Perhaps this is one of the prime reasons why anyone gets into business. But if you have made yourself the critical piece that cannot be replaced, you will not be able to take time off. Think about it, how could you? However if you can make yourself a replaceable one, you can go out and enjoy life while the business prospers.
Attaining such freedom by the virtue of being replaceable has its own perks. When you can systematically organize the actions on an everyday basis, you can reallocate your resources into those areas where you seek out new challenges, exclusive opportunities, experiment with new things, and innovate. In simple words, your company will follow your directions and you will be capable of leading your company where you want it to proceed.
When you can no longer submerge your time and energy in petty tasks, it allows you to supervise the business from afar and it is highly advisable for you to keep a regular check on your numbers and employees. Doing so will enable you to make little tweaks and changes by understanding trends, the demand-supply ratio on the global scale and accordingly you can tune the productivity of your business.
Be a chef, rather than being just a stew!
Now that you have made yourself aware of the benefits of making yourself replaceable, you know it is a good practice. Along with the above-mentioned reasons, your business will be able to proceed if you were to fall ill suddenly or you were incapacitated to carry on with your work schedule.
While we do not often avoid any such thoughts in the name of negativity, we try to escape from the bitter, hard truth. It is not that we do not want to think these kinds of things but we need to. A smart business owner knows that if he is not replaceable, and something happens to him, it could lead to a downfall of his business altogether and could imply the immediate closing of his company.
Only if you have set the guidelines, left trails to follow, and made yourself replaceable, others would willingly step up to carry on your legacy.
Replacing yourself does not imply that you should retire right away. Making yourself a replaceable player will be a kind of insurance policy for your business. You would not want your company that you have worked so hard to build drown the next day after you leave. Make sure that it is ready to carry on, even if the day comes when you cannot, or no longer want to.
Don’t be a victim of excellence!
While that might sound a bit confusing, once again have patience and read it until the end. To make you understand this concept better, here is a story about Peter Durten. During his last annual job review, his boss, Mr. James, praised his work and raved about the work he was doing. He remarked “You are irreplaceable,” further adding to his statement he said, “And no one could ever do what you do!”
Peter’s ecstasy lasted a couple of weeks until he discovered that some junior marketing personnel got a promotion that he had been working so hard for. Confused and disappointed, he began to ponder whether the word “irreplaceable” was a negative message with a positive note in it.
Durten, as disheartened as he was thought these thoughts about himself, “Does this mean that he had learned his job more than he was supposed to and was too ‘valuable’ for the company to let go.” “Does his boss wish to keep him at the same place indefinitely while others moved ahead?”
“Was it a sign that he will not be promoted, ever?”
Now that is something you would not want, would you? Like I said, do not be a victim of excellence. You can be a great professional but making yourself too good can create problems as well. Let me guide you through the ways that will help you in reassuring your progression.
Firstly, instill a habit of making your knowledge available to others. While it is good to be the smartest person in the room and the most cherished expertise in the systems you manage, I recommend you to make others equipped enough with required knowledge and skill set so that the system does not suffer nor do you.
Frankly speaking, you do not want to become the guardian of knowledge that no one else possesses. It is not an asset but a curse. To make yourself accessible, try to find someone reliable and train them with the basics of what you do. It can be anything, maintaining a database of client contacts, updating the annual report, or serving as the contact person for a large number of salespeople in the field.
Identify a few potential successors and keep in regular touch with them. Select a couple of trainee or junior people and start working on improving their skills so that they can fill in your shoes and take over for you one day. The point of doing so is letting your employer believe that you are expendable. Every time you have a quick chat with him, to communicate that the following newcomers have the potential and are capable, intelligent enough for advancement within the company. When your boss realizes that you are not the only person who can manage the particular job you do, it will be just a matter of time that he will begin to acknowledge your presence more seriously for new responsibilities.
Simultaneously plan for the long-term goals, and build a foundation of support. To achieve success, it is equally significant to map where you might budge from the company and start contemplating your position for the place.
Any organization is full of opportunities, if it is not, you better join one that is. Identify those opportunities within your firm. If you observe an organizational chart or perhaps draft one yourself, you will be utterly surprised to see the number of possibilities you have to plan your next move.
An opportunity can hit you in one of many semblances. (Similarities, resemblances)
It could be a sales department expansion; they might be adding new sales heads, leads, and managers who will require assistance. Or perhaps the sales manager has announced that she is likely to retire by the end of this month.
As much as your physical hard work is important, it is more important to have the vision to promote yourself. Merely by the virtue of imagination, you can craft countless new opportunities for yourself within your organization.
If your company has been planning on hiring a staff of new salespeople in a neighboring state, you can apply to be their in-house liaison prior to the announcement of the job availability. Or, if your company collaborates several departments, you can ask to serve as the assistant to several of the executives involved.
In today’s era of downsizing climate, it is often plausible to advance yourself by predicting needs and offering yourself as a cost-effective solution to future staffing requirements. Establish excellence in the skills you will need for the targeted opening.
If you are not sure about the precise needed skills, seek advice from someone in the department or area you are targeting. Their expertise can guide you better. Ask the following questions:
What kind of work is performed in this department on a daily basis?
What kind of specialized skills are needed to survive here?
Would knowledge of a particular software program, for example, make you a likely candidate to start working there?
The reason behind seeking advice from experts is quite obvious and at the same time, it is important. When you switch your department or change the line of work, it becomes highly essential for you to understand the ways how the work is done and what people in that department prefer. Rest assured if you are able to adapt yourself, you can achieve milestones.
Last but not the least, don’t expect people to read your mind. After Peter was passed over for a promotion, he went to Mr. James and asked why he was not considered for the post. The boss’s response disarmed him. He said, “You would have been a leading candidate had I known that you were interested.” Do not be like Peter and keep away from such events, for they nothing but cripple your own career, make it a point to speak up! People will acknowledge your initiative.
|Next blogs in this Series:|