July 27

How Being “Too Helpful” Can Hurt Your Career + How to Fix It

It’s important to be a team player and be willing to go the extra mile in business. Someone who is difficult to work with, doesn’t fulfill their commitments, and isn’t willing to help out can find themselves without many allies in the workplace and passed up for promotions. 

However, the opposite isn’t always the right choice either. Someone who actively helps everyone, even to their own detriment, can be viewed as “nice” and even “awesome” but those hours of taking on trivial tasks will not win you favors down the road. 

“…those hours of taking on less trivial tasks will not win you favors down the road.”

This is because it is critical that you are seen as both a team player and a strategic business asset in order to be considered for opportunities.

Have you secured a reputation as someone who actively moves the business forward? Someone the business would suffer without? Or someone who is nice and plans the office outing?

Do these “too helpful” tasks sound like you?:

  • Taking on work around the office to be nice
  • Taking on more work than you can handle because you really want to “help out” or go above and beyond 
  • Planning office/workplace events like parties, potlucks, volunteer activities, etc. 
  • Accepting tasks from leaders/others outside of your business unit

If any of the above sounds like you then it’s time to act!

It is critical that you begin moving these items out of your life so you can make room for business critical work.

But… here’s the thing: saying “not in my job description” will get a fast pass to Difficult to Work With Land.

So here is how you can maintain your brand as a team player but get away from work that doesn’t serve you or the business.

“…saying ‘not in my job description’ will get you a fast pass to Difficult to Work With Land.”

How to remove non-business-impacting work while maintaining your relationships:

  • Stop volunteering for non-business impacting items
  • If you have always arranged the [insert low priority office project/admin] and no one else has, create a sign-up sheet or identify a new owner – explain that with your changed priorities in your position you can no longer take on this work every time 
  • If you are asked by a person in authority to take on work that is outside of your scope, there are a few options: 
    • Express excitement about the opportunity and then: 
      • Point them to the correct resource 
      • Inform them that your priorities and workload have changed and you will not be able to take it on
      • Agree to partner- if you see some of the work as within your scope/benefiting the business – “I would love to do X, who on your team can do Y?”

There will be stretch projects that may be out of your scope but relevant to the business and this is a leadership opportunity for you.

That is rock star work.

Non-business impacting tasks? That will not increase your status during hiring or sizing decisions. 

If you have “bonus” work that is fun and fulfilling for you? Go for it. Just make sure that your core work speaks for itself and your “bonus” work isn’t all you are known for.

>>>Do you have what it takes to get promoted? Take this free video training to find out.

Rachel Woodman has 13 years of sales, marketing, and business experience primarily within Corporate America. She loves to learn, coach, and otherwise discuss all things leadership, career, job skills, and resume building which led to the launch of @ThatCareerChic. She currently resides in Minneapolis-St. Paul.


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