Often when we look at the work we do, we think to ourselves, how would this company survive without me? Or said another way, who would do all the work I’m doing if I weren’t here to do it? This is a somewhat arrogant view, but it’s also a common view of how we think about the work we do for a company. This can lead to us feeling like we could never be replaced.
Unfortunately, the harsh reality is that all of us can be replaced. In fact, many of us can be replaced more easily than we think. That doesn’t diminish the value we’re providing the company, but it does acknowledge the reality that the services we offer a company are almost never rare enough that they can’t be replaced.
This doesn’t mean that it will be easy to replace you. It also doesn’t mean that it might not cost the company a lot of money to find your replacement. However, almost no company has someone so integral to their success that they can’t be replaced. Yes, even the great Steve Jobs has been replaced and Apple is still doing quite well.
Even if you can be replaced, you should still work so hard that it’s a challenge for your company to replace you. Even better is if you’re able to provide so much value to your company that it takes 2+ people to replace you. In fact, this should be your goal. When you work as an employee you should be so valuable to your company that they feel the pain when they leave. That’s not because you want your company to feel pain, but because you want to provide that much value.
The beauty of this approach is that if you’d be hard to replace, your company will have no desire for you to leave. Sure, they could replace you, but they’ll work harder to keep you around. Or at least they should and the great companies recognize your value and work hard to retain you.
It’s a beautiful cycle where everyone wins when it’s done right. Do you feel like you’d be hard to replace at your company? Are there other ways you can create more value for your company so that they’ll have no desire to replace you and in fact will find ways to keep you happy and around?