By Dr. Maria G. Hernandez
Latina Cubicle Confidential™
In nearly every workplace you will find that the most dedicated and hard working employees tend to be given —surprise — more work! There is a strong tendency for managers to notice if someone is trustworthy, focused, and gets the job done and, not surprisingly, they repeatedly to go to that person with the tough assignments.
Are you someone’s “go-to person”?
Sure it can feel good to know that your boss likes how you get your job done and it can be a remarkable way to advance your career quickly. Unfortunately, it can also stall your career and become a total nightmare for your efforts to attempt anything close to work-life balance.
I’m not at all surprised to hear from Latinas that they are their manager’s “go-to-person”. Latinas in the workforce today have more education and opportunities than ever before and we tend to have a strong determination to contribute and support our colleagues and the mission of our employers. We bring a value system that accepts hard work and we often put forward a strong “can-do” attitude as a source of personal pride and integrity.
So how can all that backfire?
It can backfire because of another trait many women bring to the workplace: we don’t ask for what we want — the promotion, the raise, the extra support, more flexible hours or simply time off.
Latinas are especially vulnerable if we assume that asking for help is somehow a sign we cannot juggle all those responsibilities.The result of all this can be burnout and a stagnant career. Many Latinas also manage to juggle everyone’s needs and expectations except perhaps taking care of ourselves. That one ball gets dropped a lot.
If you are the “go-to-person” in your work team, be sure to ask yourself if it is truly going to lead to more opportunities that you want for your career. Take time to meet with your boss to ask not just about your performance but where this workload is taking your career.
Sometimes your extra assignments are seen as the work you do because you are the only person in the office with certain skills and that you enjoy using those skills. While that may be true, don’t be afraid to ask for a raise or a promotion.
Sometimes the “go-to-person” becomes the “going nowhere person”–your skills are so valuable that no one else is able to do what you do or everyone assumes you’ll always be there to do that one job.
Being indispensible to your boss makes it tough for you to ever leave that role to move on to the next. In these situations, it’s important to let your boss know that you would be willing to develop others who can take that role.
The upside of being someone’s “go-to-person” is that you may have better job security than others. The downside is that you may end up in the same role longer than you expect.
You may find that your skills become highly developed in that one area of work and the rest of your skills suffer. Or your skills don’t keep pace with the new work patterns. Many of the jobs in demand today did not exist just 10 years ago — web optimization specialists, social media relations, on-line customer support.
Work opportunities are changing fast, make sure your job skills keep pace with that world.
Dr. Maria G. Hernandez has 20 years experience consulting in both the United States and Mexico to senior executives in Fortune 50 companies and facilitated change initiatives for elected officials and their staff. She has worked in academia, business, nonprofits, technology startups, and public agencies. For more information, visit Latina Cubicle Confidential™ on Facebook or on Twitter @SavvyLatinaInfo.