8 Surprising Dangers of Being Too Reliable at Work

Career Advice

I’m a good employee. I’m on time. I work late. I’m there when my manager needs me.

I’m reliable.

So, why is someone else getting the promotion?

Are you TOO reliable?

Bosses love reliable employees. Clients and customers seek out dependability. Friends and family know who to call in a pinch. How, then, can being reliable be bad? It’s an awesome trait and more people should be skilled in this art. At work, however, the scales can tip.

You can become too reliable.

Nothing can make you feel more inferior than when you think someone is taking advantage of you. Feeling that your value is overlooked or that your boss doesn’t notice your contributions should signal career danger.

Dangers of Being Too Reliable at Work

1. You Become a Pushover and Support the Slackers

It’s normal to want to please your boss or coworkers but there are people who will take advantage of your good nature. Not everyone’s performance is the same. Sometimes there’s dead weight – people who don’t contribute as much as they should. If the work needs to get done, someone must pick up that slack. Because you are the reliable one, you end up doing work that someone else should be doing. While it’s great to pitch in, there is a limit to how much you can do without feeling annoyed.

2. Your Productivity is Decreasing

Are you the go-to person? There’s usually at least one in every office. They tend to have a great deal of historical knowledge but when you are constantly being interrupted by questions, your productivity will take a hit. You may feel overwhelmed and tugged in multiple directions as requests for help roll in.

3. You Work More Overtime Than the Others

If your productivity suffers because you’re the go-to person, the office is short-staffed, or you are making up for slackers, you may find that you’re working more overtime than you realistically should be working. It’s more common to work overtime than not at some point in your career. There are priorities that pop up and projects that must get done. The eight-hour day doesn’t always cut it. However, if work is regularly intruding upon your nights and weekends, you should feel free to reclaim a normal work schedule – particularly if you are not being paid for your overtime.

4. Your Time Out of the Office is Not Respected

There are certain positions in which you need to be available in times of emergency. Sometimes, however, work can wait. True story – I once had a boss who would send emails at off-hours throughout the weekend and then chastise his staff on Monday morning if he did not get an immediate response. There were no emergencies. It was simply the power of wanting to control every aspect of his employees’ personal time. There’s no circumstance where that is acceptable. You have a right to privacy out of the office.

5. You Are Still Waiting on a Raise or Promotion

If your boss repeatedly promises that a pay increase or promotion is coming but it doesn’t happen, you’re getting jerked around. Unless there is a company-wide freeze on salary increases, there is something else going on. Sometimes people who are too reliable won’t make waves and some bosses won’t make you a priority. Out of sight, out of mind.

6. You Always Get the Work Nobody Else Wants to Do

If most of your job duties continually fall below your level of expertise, you may be taken advantage of if it is because nobody else wants to do it. If you are constantly performing at a lower level, it makes it harder for you to stay relevant in your field. Boredom will creep in and you won’t feel challenged.

7. You Never Hear Praise

Your boss can appreciate what you offer but they don’t always tell you. Some managers are simply not good with providing positive feedback or praise. If work is repeatedly being heaped on and you never hear praise, something is out of balance. You’ll never be thanked for all that you do but seeing respect for your hard work is necessary if you want to feel like a valuable part of the team.

8. You Attract the Wrong Kind of People

Reliable people can attract the wrong kind of people. While kindness and respect are the foundations of healthy work relationships, an inability to set proper boundaries can be an invitation to attract needy people or those who might be overly emotional, negative, or those who feel the need to manipulate or control others.

How do you stop it?

An effective career strategy isn’t to become less reliable, but you can turn the situation around. In a future article, I’ll tell you how you can begin setting boundaries so that you will feel like a respected team member.

Jan Johnston Osburn is a Certified Career Coach and Organizational Consultant. Her organizational specialties are Talent Acquisition, Training, and Leadership Development. She holds a Master’s degree from the University of Buckingham, UK, and has certifications in Executive Coaching and Advanced Social Media. Her website is www.JanJohnstonOsburn.Com.

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