Being the go-to person for your boss carries prestige. You have access and exposure to someone at work with power and influence. But being the go-to person can turn into a nightmare. You start off by saying “yes,” demonstrate you can do everything and then all of a sudden find yourself being on call all the time, including nights and weekends. When your boss thinks you will do everything they ask, you might even find yourself being asked to do things you feel are unethical. Being the go-to person can ultimately take away your dignity and personal life.
You may find yourself in this difficult situation, and you want out. While you may feel out of control and powerless over the situation, being essential to your boss is what gives you power and leverage. Follow these four steps to get out unscathed and regain control and your self-respect:
1. Have a time limit.
If you dislike being the go-to person at work, give yourself a time limit. Tell yourself that you will fill this role for a certain number of months until you are up for a promotion or the department is fully staffed. Being the go-to person can be exhausting, and there is only so much time that it works to you and your boss’s advantage. Pick a date, and stick to it.
2. Speak up about what you need.
Being the go-to person at work usually means that you are asked to complete projects outside of your job description and on top of your normal workload. When you are pulled to work on a pet project or “fire drill,” you may find it difficult to manage what you currently have on your plate. Tell your boss what is on your plate, and ask their advice on prioritizing the work. Sometimes, your manager will not know everything you are doing. It is your job to tell them.
3. Delegate the work.
Just because your boss automatically thinks of you does not mean you have to do the work. Some managers do not care how the work is completed, just that it is completed under your supervision. If this is the case, do not hesitate to recruit interns or ask your peers if they would be willing to help. Be a leader, and delegate.
4. Say no.
If all else fails, say “no.” If you are finding that being the go-to person has decreased your productivity level, the prestige of the position is no longer worth it. Whether the real or underlying reason for your decrease in productivity stems from your increasing resentment towards your boss or something else, keep that to yourself. If and when you politely tell your boss you are unable to do something, it is best to tie it to a business reason like productivity.
Being the “yes” person the entire time can cost you your worth and your organization if you start becoming less productive. Saying no takes guts, and sometimes you need to show your guts to maintain your self-respect.
Being the go-to person when you do not want to be can make you feel defeated and hopeless. Remind yourself that a go-to person holds power that you can leverage. Done right, you can escape the nightmare and regain control of your career.