Why Working Yourself Out of a Job Is a Skill (Rachel Nazhand)

While many employees create job security through traditional career progression and making themselves indispensable in their role, some of the best fractional operators have the opposite approach: aiming to work themselves OUT of a job.

Why would someone aim to achieve their way out of a job? Because if they've done the work correctly, they will have built such a strong infrastructure that it stands on its own. They've not made themselves obsolete, but instead made themselves available for new challenges and opportunities by enabling the work product to speak for itself.

It’s important to note that the end game isn’t to become unemployable, in fact it’s quite the opposite. The goal is to create systems that either run themselves or can be easily handed off to in-house or, ideally, more junior or cost effective employees. Additionally, the best fractional operators address challenges from multiple angles so that there’s a plan B, C, D and Z for when the current systems are outgrown or no longer applicable.

Intrigued? Here are three tried and true approaches operators can use to work themselves out of a job (and into the next one) with skill:

1. Document, document, document.

Every process and every decision should have a clear paper trail. The rate of change that takes place in early stage and high growth organizations can be startling and it’s not uncommon to revisit prior decisions. By documenting the solution the team landed on in addition to how they arrived there, everyone can circumvent future swirl and rework. And of course, document how the system is intended to work, including anticipation of any scenarios when the system may need to be readdressed— everything from upcoming contract expiration dates to limitations related to staffing or expansion demands.

When documenting a robust process or system, especially if it’s integral to core company operations, consider including multiple formats, such as quick FAQs in addition to in depth reference guides or video tutorials.

Finally, be sure to drive alignment on where to store and access documentation. The best platform is the one that is utilized, so choose something that works across all teams. GDrive, Sharepoint, Notion, and Confluence are all very common and straightforward options but for more established teams, implementing a full content management system may become more appropriate.

2. Create contingency plans early and often

“The Only Constant in Life Is Change.”- Heraclitus

When there's no plan to address change or disruptions, operators will quickly find themselves in a game of “whack-a-mole” where contributions become reactive instead of proactive.

Great fractional operators implement change protocols, fallback plans, and escalation practices to ensure that all team members are able to remain oriented towards the same goal, no matter the circumstance. Particularly in a remote world where it’s easy to feel disconnected, a great contingency plan that’s created in advance leaves everyone in the best possible position whether or not that fractional operator is still in the seat.

3. Avoid building manumation or processes that requires direct involvement

It’s natural for operators to find themselves in the center of the action. In fact, in an attempt to deliver quickly, a common misstep of fractional operators is to have a “it’s faster if I just take care of it myself” mindset.

For any task that happens on a recurring basis, operators need to carve out the time required to build in true automation or at the very least redundancy in roles so as not to create single points of failure. It’s impossible to move on to new and impactful tasks if an operator finds themself stuck executing a manual process over and over again. Instead, fractional operators should aim to build products that are able to be easily handed off with the goal of only revisiting for enhancements and troubleshooting.

In summary, the best fractional operators are able to cover more ground and solve more problems when they take the approach of creating a world that can outlive their direct involvement. In the same way consumers prefer to buy products that last, wise founders and business owners will value a fractional partner that has a long game mindset and isn’t afraid to work themselves “out of a job.”


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