Being Helpful Can Hinder Your Success

June 22, 2014

If’s a nice feeling to be able to help a coworker. In no time at all, you become the go-to person and everyone comes to you for help. You give them mini-trainings in procedure or software problems. or just about anything. And everyone flourishes but you. You are so busy helping everyone else that your own work doesn’t get done in a timely manner.

While it can make you feel important and give you a nice feeling to be the one people come to when they need help, two things are happening simultaneously. The first one is that you are depriving your coworker from learning the ropes on his own and the second one is that it might be keeping you back from getting promotions.

If the people you help are benefiting from the shortcuts you give them, they are able to complete their work in record time while you are struggling to meet your own deadlines. Their work is showcased in a glowing light while your lack of productivity tells your employer that you waste too much time chitchatting with everyone who stops by your desk. You may stay at the office later than everyone else but your boss will see it for what it is, that you don’t work effectively.

Does this mean that you shouldn’t help anyone? Not at all. It just means that you should defer helping others with their work until your own work is completed. It can also be a matter of memorizing a list of other people who have the expertise that’s needed for the different tasks. In other words, “Jane Doe is the one who handles those issues” and that way they are still going to get the help they need, albeit from someone else, and you are free to do the work you were hired to do.

This will probably feel uncomfortable for you at first but, if you ever want to get ahead, to get pay raises and promotions commensurate with your abilities, it’s a matter of working smarter, not harder. And definitely making your own work your number one priority is smarter.

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