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

Being warm and kind is critical to making others feel valued, understood, and respected.

But being “too nice” (read: a pushover) can tank your brand quickly. 

In order for businesses to be successful they need to keep up with ever evolving customer needs and continuously innovate.

This means that a business today needs leaders for tomorrow. 

So, what does this mean for you? 

That it’s critical that you are seen as a business asset for today's and tomorrow's hiring and sizing decisions. 

What prevents you from being viewed this way? 

When you do a lot of, or are known for doing a lot of, low priority tasks. Even if those tasks are helpful or are a favor to an executive.


Being a team player and being willing to go the extra mile are qualities that leaders want to see in business.

When someone is difficult to work with, doesn’t fulfill their commitments, and isn’t willing to help out they can find themselves without many allies in the workplace.

And both examples can be passed up for promotions. 

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 may be time to act!

It is important that you begin moving these items off of your plate (and off of your brand) so you can make room for business critical work.

But wait! .... here's the thing: 

Saying “that's not in my job description” will get you a fast pass to Difficult to Work With Land.

So how can you build a brand as a team player and strategic business asset while getting away from tasks that don't serve you or the business?

Here's how.

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

1. Stop volunteering for non-business impacting items (I know you reallllly want to raise your hand, but do not do it)

2. If you have always arranged the [insert low priority office project/admin work here] and no one else has, create a sign-up sheet or identify a new owner - explain that the priorities in your position have changed and you no longer have the bandwidth to take on this work every time

3. If you are asked by a person in authority to take on work that is outside of your scope, try this:

    First: Express gratitude about the opportunity


       Point them to the correct resource - or - 

       Inform them that your priorities and workload have changed and you will not be able to take it on, recommend another option for them - or - 

       (If you see some of this work being within your scope or benefiting the business, then) Agree to partner: “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.

This is a leadership opportunity for you.

That is rock star work.

Non-business impacting tasks? Those 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.


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