When a kid is asked what they want for Christmas they will often ask for the newest toy, the coolest Lego, or the prettiest barbie. However if you ask an adult living in the rat race they might often tell you that they want job security. Job security means that the job the person currently holds has long standing and long coming demand where the people applying for the position is less than the open positions. In an nutshell it means the person for the time being has become irreplaceable. Sounds good no? A job where you are always needed, virtually un-fireable, irreplaceable.
All that shines is not gold
Being irreplaceable sounds almost too good to be true right? WRONG, being irreplaceable obviously has its perks but it has a terrible draw back. Ever heard of those people have have worked in a company for ten plus years and end up training everyone who eventually gets promoted over them? Yeah that guy has become irreplaceable. No one can do the job he has as well as he can so he also became unable to promoted.
Irreplaceable = Unpromotable
Like the columns in the acropolis, each one is irreplaceable. They all hold up the structure overhead. Without one of them the structure would probably crumble. So who in their right mind would move it, anywhere else? There is simply no reason too. Why would a company pay you more to do a job you have not done while removing you from a job you’re already amazing at? All while they have to hire someone new to do your old job where it will probably take them years to reach your skill level and cost the company money in the process. Its simply inefficient to do so.
Be calculative with your risks
The worse thing you can do is become stagnant just because you don’t want to lose your job, and you’re okay with becoming irreplaceable. Always be looking for an exit strategy, a back up plan, and way to supersede your current situation. Not being fired is good, being a substitute teacher for 30 years might actually be worse.
There is such a thing, though as becoming vital. Becoming a linchpin in the company’s operation. While many people take the route above and become irreplaceable at their current position, the goal is to demonstrate to the top brass that you have irreplaceable talent for the top. Seth Godin’s book does a great job of outlining how this works. It’s a great introduction to the theory of making yourself indispensable to your company. If you’ve read the sections here about business and entrepreneurship, then you have no desire for job security, but if you still want it anyway, this shows you how to make sure you can’t ever be fired.
What’s the balance between “irreplaceable” and “unpromotable”? Seth Godin tackles that very dynamic. Check out the next post on the subject: Are You Indispensable?