Yes this is a business post.

I’m an independent person.

The thought of not being able to control my bladder some day scares me.  I realize it’s a reality many of us will have to face as we pass by our “golden years”.  I just hope it’s not mine.

I have a hard time depending on people in general  (more than a fear of absorbent underwear).  Most times in the workplace I would much rather control all aspects of the marketing process, sales process, travel-booking process – heck, even the A/R process sometimes.

But I’m not a control freak.

As companies grow you’re forced to give away control to other team members due to simple time constraints.  You simply can’t do it all anymore.  You need to create a healthy dependence amongst your peers that leverages the unique skills innate to each employee.

What you don’t need is over-dependence amongst team members.

Here are 5 ways to avoid being labeled as an “over-dependent” in your workplace:

1.  Ask Google first.  Before responding to that email with an immediate “I don’t know” or quickly forwarding it to that co-worker who you think can solve the problem, ask Google first.  A) You might learn something.  B) Your co-worker will quickly notice that the only email correspondence he/she receives from you is important and worth the time to review.  Don’t be the employee that has a junk email filter set up just for you.

2.  Take the first stab.  Many times we’re scared of “screwing up”, sounding unprofessional, or looking unprofessional.  We want the answers to all the questions before we’re going to stick our neck out and volunteer to run with the ball.  We think, “surely somebody else knows more about <pick your subject> than me“!

Probably not.  At least not in your company.  And soon you’ll be the pro.

3.  Clarify expectations.  If you schedule a conference call with a customer and invite 5 co-workers to attend – tell them what you expect them to contribute.  Don’t bail out last minute and ask someone else to facilitate the call.  Don’t show up late.  Do use instant messaging amongst co-workers to drive the call a different direction if the topic begins to run off track when calling from multiple physical locations.

4.  Take notes.  Assuming someone else is listening better than you during a meeting or conference call will quickly bite you in the derriere.  Eventually you will either get asked a direct question or asked to provide some timely follow up.  Having to repeatedly ask, “What did they say?” will quickly earn you the stamp of an over-dependent before you’re able apologize for daydreaming about the upcoming weekend.  Electronically documenting the notes you take during calls and meetings will provide further insurance against future over-dependence.  Some possible solutions to electronically document and share notes:, Evernote, and Google Docs.

5.  Implement relevant secure profiles and roles.  Many companies today utilize hosted Internet business applications that employees access via username and password.  I don’t want to have to provide my login information for another team member to view customer data within our CRM application.  I want to empower the individual team member with the tools necessary to obtain the information they have clearance to view.  If you find yourself regularly asking, “Can you run that report for me again?”, maybe it’s time you get secure access to the data and run the report yourself!

So there’s some advice you can depend on – with ultra absorbency.

Question: In your workplace, what’s one task you simply could not accomplish without a healthy dependence on another team member’s skills? 

For me: writing computer programming code.  Hands down.


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