I once had a colleague tell me in a very stern voice to ‘stay in my lane’. This is the “Northwest Nice” version of someone telling “IT” to ‘mind your own business’ and just make sure the network stays up and the internet is fast.
The truth is, as IT continues to be integrated into every aspect of an organization, the ‘lane’ that IT was restricted to has now become the freeway that other cars are driving on! As technology continues to evolve at a rapid pace, it’s easy to fall into the trap of “staying in your lane” — focusing solely on the tasks and responsibilities within your job description. While this may feel comfortable and safe, it can be detrimental to your professional growth and development. In fact, it can even lead to job stagnation and missed opportunities.
Here are some of the dangers of “staying in your lane”:
- Limited Skillset
When you only focus on the tasks within your job description, you’re limiting your skillset. You’re not pushing yourself to learn new things, take on new challenges, or expand your knowledge. As a result, you’re not growing as a professional and you’re not becoming a more valuable asset to your own team or organization. Surrounding yourself with people who ask hard questions, encourage you to explore new horizons and push you to grow are critically important.
- Missed Opportunities
When you’re only focused on your own tasks and responsibilities, you may miss out on opportunities to collaborate with other departments, work on cross-functional projects, or take on new initiatives. This can limit your exposure to new ideas and perspectives, and ultimately, limit your career growth! When was the last time you sheepishly opened up an internal job posting on another team because you were curious what that job (and team) was all about?
- Lack of Adaptability
In today’s fast-paced business environment, it’s important to be adaptable and agile. Staying in your lane can make you complacent and resistant to change! When you’re not used to stepping out of your comfort zone, it can be difficult to adapt to new situations and take on new challenges. While this was limited to technology, it’s now prevalent across the organization as IT continues to introduce transformational platforms in support of more efficiency and scalability.
- Career Stagnation
Perhaps the most significant danger of staying in your lane is career stagnation. If you’re not learning, growing, and taking on new challenges, you’re actually going backwards.
So, how can you avoid these dangers and step out of your lane?
Seek out new opportunities. Make an effort to seek out new opportunities to learn and grow. Volunteer for projects outside of your usual responsibilities, attend conferences and seminars, and take on additional responsibilities when they arise. Rather than staying in your lane, blur the lines intentionally! Utilize new skillsets and become uncomfortable trying something different!
Collaborate with others. Collaborating with colleagues in different departments can expose you to new ideas and ways of working. Look for opportunities to work with colleagues who have different backgrounds and skillsets and be open to learning from them. Ask to join project teams and volunteer to support it any way you can!
Take on challenges. Don’t be afraid to take on challenges that are outside of your comfort zone. Whether it’s leading a new project or taking on a new responsibility, stepping outside of your lane can help you grow as a professional and demonstrate your value to your organization. Once you’ve done it, ask for feedback so you can continue to grow and learn.
Embrace lifelong learning. Make a commitment to lifelong learning. Take courses, read books, attend webinars, and seek out mentorship opportunities. This will help you stay up to date with industry trends and best practices, and help you stay sharp!
As you finish the week strong, here’s to taking your car off cruise control and merging into a few other lanes! Shout out to some of the best in the business at ‘blurring the lines’ between IT and Operations: Erin Raney, Aaron Miri, Letitia Selk, William Walders, Joel Vengco, David Chao, R “Ray” Wang, Dave Sohigian, Christopher Desautel, Blake Stockstad, Gurvinder Singh Sahni, Patrick Woodard, MHA, MD, Dr Zafar Chaudry, MD MS MIS MBA CITP, and Sarah Miller.
This piece was written by Bradd Busick, SVP and CIO at MultiCare Health System. To view the original post, click here.
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