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  • Writer's pictureCraig Risi

Replace Yourself


I find a big reluctance in many tech spaces for people to try and make themselves as indispensable as possible. Something which makes sense I guess in a tough yet competitive economic climate, but one which actually harms both the individuals and the company in the long run. Instead what I believe a person should always strive to do once they are in any particular position is to work to find a way to make their position no longer required. It sounds bizarre when most people desperately want job security, but it is actually the platform on which careers grow, skills develop and companies advance. And to do this effectively in the tech space means two things, automation and mentoring, which I break down below:


Automation

Process Automation scares many industries where the fear of having people replaced by robots or AI is a considerable threat. Now I will leave my commentary on that whole trend for another discussion though needless to say I feel progress is inevitable and I know that humans will only find other ways to work and make themselves productive. We’ve been doing it for thousands of years through every technological advancement and nothing is unlikely to change on this front.


On a persona level, especially in the software development space, I always strive to look at how I can make my workday more efficient and that means often finding ways of automating or streamlining a lot of the tasks I do. I can either do this by literally automating certain deployment and testing responsibilities or creating tools that make these tasks easier to perform. This doesn’t mean that I stop thinking about these tasks entirely but rather just become even better at them.


This allows me to do my job more effectively, but more importantly, also take on more responsibilities and thereby progress my career. It also offers significant benefits to the team I am a part of, as the more things are streamlined, the better they will also operate and it gives everyone the opportunity to move forward and get better. This in terms should make a company more productive, thereby profitable, which will only add to your job security and hopefully your bottom line as well when it showcases how much value you’ve added to the company overall. 


If you land up with practically nothing to do with the job that you were hired because you’ve automated everything, it means that you can use that time to identify other value added initiatives within the company.


Mentoring

Now, I believe it is important for a person to specialize and develop a specific skillset that would make them desirable to the market and encourage people to pursue that and am not wanting people to stop that. It’s the spirit though of helping everyone else around you get to or often exceed your own skillset that I want to encourage.


Most people would agree with the desire to mentor and develop those around them, but I find many are hesitant to want to see that person develop to a point where that skillsets exceeds their own. Almost as if once the students abilities exceed that of the teacher, that the person now feels a little redundant. However, I would argue that making you a great teacher and mentor to others only makes you even more valuable to your company. Skills development is one of them sot critically needed gaps in the tech space and the more skilled and capable people are able to impact and help others grow in these areas, the more valuable they become.


True Growth

When people ask me how do I differentiate the difference between junior an seniors at different levels of software development, I often speak to the contribution they make at an organisation level and this is measured not just in how good they are and how much they know, but in how they are able to do the above and make the company better. Thinking beyond themselves and creating a wider sphere of influence. Those are people I want to promote and invest in.


True growth in any job or career is not just measured in how long you’ve been doing the work for or how many successful projects you have been a part of, but how much you are able to take yourself and the company forward and if you still finding yourself doing the same sort of work daily after several years, there is a chance you have missed a trick in how to replace yourself. Yes, as a developer you will always need to write code, but hopefully along the way you’ve automated many of the processes around you to make it faster and more efficient and trained up others to do what you can do so that you can do something extra.

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