Why you should make it easy to replace yourself

Most people spend their time trying to protect their job—keeping their knowledge to themselves so that no one else can come in and easily replace them. Throughout my career I’ve always used the opposite approach—I try to figure out how to make it as easy as possible to hand over my job to someone else. Here are my top reasons for doing so.

It ensures I understand all aspects of what I do.
I would often ask myself, if I had to transition my role to someone else today, could I easily explain it to them? Could I confidently answer all their questions? If not, then there was much I still needed to learn and asking these questions helped me to identify those areas.

It forces me to document and assess my work processes.
We often get into the routine of our work, without putting much thought into how or why we do things. By documenting the process, I am forced to examine every step, allowing me to find opportunities to streamline it, overhaul it, or even eliminate it. It is particularly helpful in saving time from having to relearn the process for activities done less frequently.

I begin to examine all aspects of my work to find opportunities to create processes.
While we are usually aware of the big, obvious processes in our jobs, there are often many smaller tasks that we do (often inconsistently) that could have a process applied to it. For example, how we research a client before a meeting, how we plan for a meeting, how we attend to our email, or how we develop an ad hoc presentation or report. By becoming aware of what you’re doing and seeing common elements that can be standardized, you avoid having to start from scratch every time. Added up, these can result in huge time savings.

I can delegate easily.
With a clear, up-to-date, and well-documented process in place, it is easy to delegate with the minimal amount of transition time required. Often we don’t delegate because of the “it will take longer to teach than to do myself” mentality. By creating the habit of documenting and refining your workflow, it becomes easy to delegate when the opportunity arises.

By adopting this mindset to how you approach your work, your workflow will become more efficient and effective, creating the time and mental space to work on more interesting projects to further your development and prepare you for your next role.