Advertising
Advertising

How To Break Free from Being the Go-To Guy at the Office

How To Break Free from Being the Go-To Guy at the Office

You are staring at your computer screen and you are stressed. Yet another day has passed and you haven’t really made any progress with your work assignments: instead, the whole day has gone by helping your colleagues. You’re known as the go-to guy in your office when it comes to all things IT-related, and although you love to help people out with their computer woes, this activity is starting to burn you out.

There is also a price to pay when it comes to your unofficial role: you help others at the expense of missing deadlines in your own assignments and projects. Because of this, your bosses and project managers have already started asking why you are unable to keep up with agreed-upon timelines.

The situation becomes unbearable: you want to help your colleagues, but at the same time, you’d like to take care of your work as well. Unfortunately, you have run out of ideas on how to solve the situation.

Open Doors, All Year Long

When looking more closely at your situation, it’s very easy to understand why you are feeling stressed and burned out: you’re a nice person and you want to help others, and you probably feel good about yourself when you have fixed issues for other people so they can continue with their work. People probably realize that they can get answers more quickly from you than by following official routes—by calling the IT support office of your company, for example. That’s likely another reason why they come to you.

Finally, your open door policy and unwillingness to say “no” is like an open invitation to others: You are kind to them, you do what they ask you to do, and you are always available.

Advertising

Do You Care What Others Think of You?

There is most likely a conflict deep inside you, as part of you wants to change the situation, but again, you are afraid to do it. You might be scared of what other people would think of you if you say “no” to their requests—you want to please others, not make them feel bad, making it difficult to say “no” to them.

Ultimately, this niceness is causing more harm than good to you as you end up having a hard time doing your own work on time.

You Need a Policy

To make things easier and to solve the situation,you need to set a policy that defines how these unofficial tasks are going to be handled in the right way: this policy will determine your general accessibility, how you will communicate with others and how others will communicate with you, as well as the official routes when dealing with IT problems.

To make the policy more powerful, you have to define it with your superior, and it has to be communicated clearly to your colleagues—only in that way will things will get better and you will finally be able to focus on your own tasks.

Be a go-to Guy, But Only When You Want to Be

To implement this policy, consider taking the following steps:

Advertising

1. Talk to your boss. It all starts by having a meeting with your boss.

Let him/her know that you are overworked because of being the go-to guy at the office and as a result, you can’t handle your own workload anymore. Make a decision to craft a special policy about this, which is communicated to your colleagues via e-mail or another means determined by your boss.

This policy sets the rules how you should be contacted with regard to those unofficial tasks.

2. Define the right way to communicate. Implement this part of the plan in two ways: electronically and physically.

The electronic part pertains to how other people contact you by e-mail and via instant messaging, and when you are expected to get back to them. It should also define how you will communicate with other people on the phone. The physical aspect defines how you will communicate with people who approach you directly at your office work space .

Advertising

In either of these cases, you can make it clear that you are only available during certain hours of the day for unofficial matters, but for the rest of the time you are focusing on your own work assignments. Be sure to make it clear that any question that’s not related to your work assignments is handled with lower priority, as you are busy with your own projects.

3. Isolate yourself physically. If you still get distracted by others, it’s time to take more drastic action and relocate yourself physically to another part of the office. For instance, if your office has any rooms free, you could start working in one of them and keep the door closed. If that doesn’t work, then you could make an arrangement where you work from home—this cuts physical contact with you to minimum.

If you have talked with your boss about your current workload (as in step 1), there should be fewer distractions than before and you should be able to work with a much better focus.

4. Ask people to follow official processes. You can ask people to follow official protocols when dealing with certain types of issues. For example, if the issues are specifically related to IT problems, then ask them to contact the official IT support people for sorting out those matters.

You can also ask your boss to remind your colleagues of this protocol as well: that the right way to get help is to use the official channels—even if it takes longer to fix the issue.

Advertising

Finally, if your colleagues are more willing to come to you than use the official channels, this should ring an alarm bell for your boss. Maybe the corporate policies are not as effective as they could be, and they should be changed as soon as possible.

5. Change roles. Finally, ask yourself if you are in the right position inside the company—should you be working for the IT department instead? If you are already doing well with people and you are knowledgeable about a specific topic, would you consider switching over to another role instead?

In Conclusion

There a lot of these go-to guys and girls in offices around the world who are kindly helping out their colleagues, causing their own workplace performance to suffer as a result. If this has been happening to you, discuss it with your boss as quickly as possible: with this single step, the whole issue could be resolved and you can focus on the work you are supposed to do.

(Also, please note that this post focused on IT related matters, but naturally you can apply these steps to other businesses and roles as well.)

Over to you: If you are a go-to person at your office, do you say “no” to people when they come to ask for help?

Featured photo credit:  Handsome guy looking down via Shutterstock

More by this author

Timo Kiander

Productivity Author and Founder of Productive Superdad

What Is FOMO (And How to Get Over It) How to Create a To-Do List that Super Boosts Your Productivity Do You Do This Common Mistake When You Start Working on Your Tasks? 9 Valuable Lessons Learned After Writing My First Book Agreeing on Deadlines With Yourself Just Doesn’t Work: Here’s What Does

Trending in Work

1 How to Write an Impressive Cover Letter (With Examples) 2 10 Simple Yet Powerful Business Goals to Set This Year 3 How to Start an Online Business That Will Grow and Succeed 4 How to Swiftly Make a Midlife Career Change 5 How to Succeed in Business: 10 Skills Every Entrepreneur Needs

Read Next

Advertising
Advertising
Advertising

Last Updated on June 2, 2020

How to Write an Impressive Cover Letter (With Examples)

How to Write an Impressive Cover Letter (With Examples)

Think of your cover letter for a job application as an in-person introduction. Your resume outlines the facts—where you worked and for how long, along with your major accomplishments. But your cover letter also shows off your personality.

Your cover letter should outline the case for why you deserve the job without being “salesy.” How do you do that? Follow these 12 important guidelines.

1. There Is No Cookie-Cutter Cover Letter for a Job

Targeting your resume to a particular job may mean changing up your “Objective” section a bit or adding to your “Executive Summary” section. Cover letters, though, really need to focus on the particular person you’re writing to, the particular job, and the particular company. It needs to prove, with an economy of words, that your job experience fits the requirements of the position for which you’re applying.

Your letter should show that you have amassed the skills you need to succeed in that workplace. And, your cover letter should clinch your prospects by making the case that you are very excited about working at that particular company.

2. Always Opt-in to the Optional Cover Letter

Some job postings will give applicants the option of opting out of providing a cover letter for a job[1]. Don’t take the bait! Use the opportunity to further sell yourself in a personalized, well-crafted cover letter that creatively shares who you are and why your skills and personality align with the position and the company. Think of your cover letter for a job as an opportunity to describe your value proposition.

3. A Reference Goes a Long Way

Did someone recommend you for the job? Put that in the subject line of your cover letter if possible. If an online listing dictates what your subject line must be, cite the personal recommendation in the first sentence of your letter:

Dear Ms. Sanders,

Steve Smith recommended me for your Assistant Planner position. I worked with Steve at the XYZ company for four years as his assistant until he moved on, and I feel as though I learned from the best.  His high praise for you is the primary reason I am applying for this position, as I consider him an excellent judge of character. 

Advertising

You may want to bolster Steve’s recommendation with a short anecdote about working with Steve. Don’t be shy. Steve’s high opinion of you will likely mean that your resume gets a serious look.

4. Outline the Key Points You Want to Make

Company by company, your cover letter for a job application needs to be specific and bulletproof. Unless you have a great deal of practice in writing cover letters, it’s hard to just bang them out. So don’t even try. Instead, start with a list of points you intend to make. Generally, these would be a “grabby” introduction, a story or two about a particular accomplishment that is relevant to the job to which you are applying, a reason why you are the ideal candidate for the position, and a conclusion with a suggested next step.

  1. Intro – Have been familiar with the company since my father worked there in the 1980s.
  2. College Major – Majored in industrial engineering so I could get a job at CYY Building, Inc.
  3. Captain of Soccer Team – Prepared me to solve problems, promote morale, and coach a team.
  4. Ask for Informational Interview – 15 minutes to meet in person and learn more about opportunities.
  5. Compelling Close – Ask Hiring Manager to call me. Say I will call her in a week if I don’t hear from her first.

5. Moderating the Tone of Your Cover Letter

Some companies are buttoned-up. The workers wear three-piece suits to the office each day plus loafers. Other companies are more casual. The employees wear shorts in the summertime and skateboard through the hallways. In an in-person interview, you would never wear shorts to a company whose employees are sporting three-piece suits.

Similarly, your cover letter needs to strike the right note. The letter you write to a start-up should sound markedly different than the letter you would write to a white-shoe law firm.

For example, even using something as informal as “Greetings” for the salutation may not be appropriate at a more formal firm. And definitely don’t use the default “To Whom It May Concern.” Instead, try to find the name of the hiring manager with an online search. If that’s not possible, you will want to begin with “Dear XYZ Hiring Manager.” The tone of your cover letter for a job starts at the very beginning.

6. Create an Attention-Grabbing Opening Line

Think of going to hear a presentation by a motivational speaker, only to have her open with, “I’m here today to present (fill in with title of the presentation).” What a let down! What if instead, she started with, “I just ran a half marathon. Now doesn’t that sound better than if I told you, ‘I tried to run a marathon but quit half-way through?’” See the difference? You want to hear more.

Craft the first line of your cover letter with the utmost care. It doesn’t need to be clever, but it needs to show your personality and your fit for the position.

Dear Mr. Stevens,

Advertising

I am committed to making the customer service experience better for people like my grandmother. At 87 years old, my Gram is lost in the digital world and reliant on customer service representatives she can reach by telephone to answer her questions and solve her problems. She regularly shares stories of frustrating dead-ends she experiences with people wanting her to “go online and make your selection.”  Yet, whenever she reaches someone willing to take the extra time to resolve her issue, she sings the company’s praises to everyone she knows. Based on Gram’s frustrations, I want to be that person who won’t give up or pass the buck with bewildered customers.  

With a strong, anecdotal opening such as this, you show purpose and passion behind your application to be a customer service representative.

7. Recognize the Value of Cover Letter Real Estate

Spare writing is key in the cover letter for a job. It is always best if your letter doesn’t exceed a page. Those reviewing applications appreciate a letter that is terse, yet provides useful information to evaluate an applicant. This means you have five to six paragraphs in which to work.

Repeating anything from your resume is a waste of real estate. Think in terms of describing why you are applying for the position and why you are the best candidate.

To best show your personality, avoid stale phrases such as, “I believe my experience would be a good fit in your organization.” Add punch to your statements that show off your accomplishments and your attitude.

I thrive in start-up environments where I’ve learned to expect the unexpected and to make changes on the fly. In one such instance, I uncovered better results from a pilot project and in under 30 minutes had updated the CEO’s presentation in time for his meeting with a venture capitalist.

8. Getting Creative

On the surface, a requirement is a requirement. Many online ads specify the number of years, and you might think they are ironclad. But if you count the number of years you amassed a particular skill at the job and add any volunteer work where you also used that skill, you might surpass the requirement.

Say that you are applying for a position in fund development. If your career experience in putting on charity fundraisers falls a little short, it’s certainly appropriate to add in time spent organizing fundraising events as a volunteer—as long as you indicate it as such in your cover letter for the job.

Advertising

I recently passed my two and a half year mark of employment as a fund development associate with Notable Events. Concurrently, I oversaw all aspects of two annual fundraising galas as a volunteer board member of Reach for the Stars Foundation, offering scholarships to first-generation college-bound students. These involved finding sponsors for more than 70 silent auction items, renting event space, working with caterers, recruiting volunteers and MC-ing both events, which each drew more than 200 attendees and, together, raised more than $250,000. I believe this intensive hands-on experience helps supplement my years of employment.

Showcasing your community ethos through volunteering could make up for the deficit in actual on-the-job experience.

9. Making the Case that You Fit

How will you fit in at the company? With some research, you can easily figure out the corporate culture of an organization. Many companies share their core values in job recruitment ads. But even if you can’t discern a company’s mission or beliefs from its advertising, you can learn it from articles you read about the company.

Is it employer-centric or employee-centric? Is the culture more traditional or more fun? And what are you looking for? When you find a company where your needs align with theirs, that’s an indication that you would fit in well. Take care to make sure that your cover letter reflects how you fit.

If you are a recent military veteran[2], consider which civilian positions lend themselves to the regimented culture of which you’ve become accustomed. For example, your occupational specialty while in the military could dovetail well with a company’s job requirements—and you have the added benefit of discipline, following instructions, and teamwork that you can apply to any future position.

10. Always Ask for What You’re Worth

If the employer asks applicants to share their salary requirements in the cover letter for a job, disregard what you made in your former position and look into the salary ranges[3] of the advertised position. You will want to adjust up or down within the salary range depending on your prior experience in the industry or in a similar role.

The key is to not undercut yourself by asking below the minimum amount, or to overinflate your worth by asking for an amount higher than the maximum pay in the salary range.

11. Show Your Cover Letter to Three People Whose Opinion You Trust

Once your letter is out in the world, it’s too late to tweak it for that particular job. You will dramatically improve your chances of having your cover letter “land” correctly if you’re proactive. Find a few people in the field, and ask them if you can show them your cover letter before you send it out.

Advertising

If you are starting out and don’t know anyone in the field, you may want to consider paying for a professional career consultant or coach to review your cover letter and resume. Remember that the care you demonstrate in your cover letter is that employer’s first impression of you.

12. End With Enthusiasm

You want to stay upbeat all the way to the end of the letter. Let the reviewer know that you appreciate the opportunity to apply and that you look forward to hearing from (or having a chance to meet with) them in person.

It would be an honor to be part of your team, and I hope to have an opportunity to discuss this role and how I could contribute to it in person.

This acknowledges that the organization gets to make the next move, but that you anticipate it will be in your favor.

Sign off formally (“Sincerely” or “Best regards”) or informally (“Best” or “Thank you”) depending on the tone of the letter. Also, be sure to include your email address and phone number under your name. This ensures that, should the reviewer wish to contact you, the contact information is easily accessible.

Final Thoughts

The best cover letters for a job are lively, authentic, and provide a memorable result, anecdote or example of your approach to work. By tying your approach to the requirements of the job description and revealing your personality as a fit for the organization, you will give yourself a winning chance for making the cut and landing that coveted job interview.

More Tips on Writing a Great Cover Letter

Featured photo credit: Glenn Carstens-Peters via unsplash.com

Reference

Read Next