Don't have much time or attention?
Here's the main takeaway so you can get on with your day.
We respect your hustle.
In an ideal world, where everyone is recognized for their accomplishments and has safety and security in work and life, all workers would have the same goal:
Making your own job obsolete.
It means helping others become so good at what they lean on you for that they no longer need your help. It means resolving every inefficiency in your workflow so that you have several hours back in your day. It means creating an environment where your mundane responsibilities are accomplished on their own with no personal effort.
Then, reward yourself by doing the things you want to do.
Want the full story with all the juicy details?
Working Yourself Out Of A Job
There is a widely-known concept of "working yourself out of a job." In most cases, it refers to the idea that you have built up your team in such a way that you could walk away and everything would still operate just as well. This likely comes from efficient delegation, uptraining those around you, and making sure everyone knows what you are working on and how to take it over if need be.
This approach has a lot of good baked into why it exists and is so popular. It requires leadership, teamwork, trust, and awareness. It only works if everyone is leaning on and supporting one another to work together as a team where no one piece is more important than the others. But, there is another reason this perspective is vital in any role in any industry.
You never know when someone will simply not show up. They might call in sick without warning, quit unexpectedly, or something more tragic might happen. Those who do the work could stop doing that work at any moment for reasons beyond your awareness or control. If someone didn't show up, how would it affect the work? Knowing how to keep the business running in the face of unexpected challenges is necessary.
So, this concept is solid. Though, it also isn't what we are talking about today.
Making Your Work Obsolete
While the idea of "working yourself out of a job" focuses on how the rest of your team can take over when you are gone, there is another more progressive theory. That is, making your work obsolete so that it simply doesn't need to be done anymore. It's the act of creating an environment where what you do day-to-day happens all on its own without anyone needing to spend time or energy doing it.
Sure, this sounds a lot like automation, but I'm not advocating for everyone to find a way for a robot to replace their work. Truth be told, that's probably going to happen regardless.
Rather, I mean to find the inefficiencies in your work and squash them. To coach so effectively that the lessons are ingrained in the daily behaviors of everyone around you. To figure out where you are wasting your own time so that you can dedicate more time to the things you enjoy most.
One of the massive differences between traditional automation and what we are talking about here is the part that you play. If your boss fires you because a machine does the work now, that's awful. Instead, it's the process of you becoming so incredibly good at your work that your day-to-day tasks essentially complete themselves without you having to dedicate energy to them. It means automating just the parts of your job you don't enjoy so that you can enjoy every second of your work. Accomplishing that deserves recognition and reward.
There are surely countless examples of someone making their own work obsolete, but here are some we know of first-hand:
Management & Human Resources
Companies exist which have no HR team or department. These are not small start-ups, but massively successful organizations with hundreds of employees. Workers are self-managed, values are supported and protected, and workers are held accountable to the work expected of them. All the tasks normally handled exclusively by leadership and HR teams are distributed throughout the organization to every employee. From budgeting to firing, everyone is personally responsible and has the authority to make decisions, each held responsible by their peers whom can all see these transparent decisions.
Those who use to push paper and file reports just to keep a record of who is doing what no longer have to deal with the monotonous, mundane parts of their work. They can focus on other vital parts of the business that need done and they have the unique talents and passions to do it.
Editing copy is important and nearly everyone benefits from it, especially for clients who are producing content not in their native language. Simply editing the copy is one thing. Taking this to the next level is making your work with that individual client obsolete. Rather than just fixing the issues, you can also provide them with a summary of where you spent most of your time and energy. If half your time was spent fixing the same issue(s) throughout, let the client know. If they learn to fix that on their end, it will save them money on hourly copy editing rates and help them regularly produce better content.
Naturally, that may lead to less money earned from that client on a regular basis, but there are meaningful upsides. First, the client will understand that you have their interests at heart, not just milking them for easy money. That often results in more work from them and positive word-of-mouth. Additionally, while your tasks with that client may be shorter, they will feel more meaningful. Making tangible edits to improve readability always feels better than spending an hour changing "their" to "there" over and over.
Some companies have a team of a half-dozen people tasked with creating a great employee experience. Other companies have a great employee experience with only one person overlooking it all just to keep an eye on things. The difference? Employee experience so ingrained in everyone's day-to-day that outside influence simply isn't needed.
As an employee experience consultant, your goal is to give employees the best experience possible. Trainings, coaching, and constantly changing benefits aren't inherently a great experience. Those are the things we often use at first to help get changes going. Afterward, it is a matter of understanding the foundational aspects of what creates a great employee experience. Once those things are implemented, it becomes a self-fulfilling cycle. Employees feel taken care of, so they take care of each other and the company, which further improves the experience itself. Get that loop going, and you no longer need a team of people working on.
This is normally where the conclusion would be.
Replacing tradition with efficiency is kind of our thing.