The essential dispensable

Recently I wrote a comment in LinkedIn with no pretension other than to express my opinion, in that time little mature one but with enough potential to be developed. I talked about the importance for the companies of those professionals who manage to become expendable but, what do I want to say with this?

The culture of the hero

Myths created around certain characters throughout our recent business history, although with clear aims regarding entrepreneurship fostering, don’t help to constructive evolution of our organizational culture in some aspects. The intuition that to become indispensable is a good way to the professional success is a very strong perception. The centralizations of competences beside correct performance is an illusion nevertheless can be a good signal for a lot of managers when they have to assess an employee performance. However this culture balances the company survival capacity towards individual capacities.

The culture of “this is not my responsibility”

One of the most listened mantras in certain organizational cultures is the sentence “this is not my responsibility” or “I’m not paid to do that job”. Of course is a very harmful attitude for any organization. Transfer responsibility in a systematically to process or to others is systematically harmful to the company. Maybe is one of the best way to become completely dispensable.

and, of course, the survival instinct

Our “professional avatar” somehow is ruled by underlying dynamics anchored in our instincts. One of those instincts is survival. Survival is “per se” an egocentric position which manages, mainly, the short term. The simplest strategy to be useful in the short term is to hoard skills and perform them yourself. Perhaps we should be able to distinguish better the difference between feeling useful and useful. What makes us feel useful does not necessarily have to be useful to the organization. Perhaps we should to distinguish between be useful and to feel useful. What makes us feel useful does not necessarily have to be useful to the organization.

Technologies, process, competences and professionals

Let us to consider two different contexts with two distinct narratives: (1) a first context in which we must to define a professional profile with a certain competences to occupy a position and (2), a professional profile already existing in a company on which we must carry on an evaluation. In each case we must to analyze the possible evaluation both by the professional and by the company taking into account two axes: technology, process and competences. (1) The organization initially establishes a series of necessary competences to cover. Later it evaluates which of these competences can be covered with autonomous technology or supervised by a professional. It evaluates which of them can be internalized or outsourced through the inclusion or modification of existing processes. Finally, with the list of competences modified, the professional profile required is complied with.
(2) Let’s see it from another point of view. The professional is already on staff and the company must evaluate its role. In the same way as in the previous case the competences are valued and those that can be replaced by the technology or by an automated process are defined.

These narratives try to highlight a business reality in which a large set of professional skills are increasingly threatened by technologies and by the improvement of organizational processes. A professional must be aware that these competencies have very weak “entry barriers” and that they will no longer be an advantage in their profile in a progressive way. Far from being a weakness, this awareness of the situation allows you to reverse the situation by training in these technologies and processes, focusing on such fields as: technical specialization in a technology, specialization in a methodology, implementation of technologies, implementation of methodologies, Operation of a technology … In fact we talk about improving the quality of our knowledge and skills instead of increasing the amount of skills with low barriers to entry.

Why become dispensable is good for the company?

Becoming expendable through the inclusion of technologies and the implementation of processes that decentralize the causes in the improvement of the indicators in an organization is a blessing. The technologies and processes (hand in hand) will replace labor competencies progressively, therefore, the strategy of becoming “essential dispensable” is a good long-term professional strategy. It is clear that the culture of an organization will dictate in the short term if this type of professionals will be valued appropriately, but in the long term everything seems to indicate that the most essential profiles will be those who know how to become dispensable.