Is it possible to be too good at your job?

Written by Leah Sinclair

Being good at your job can serve as a big boost to our careers and our confidence but, as corporate confidence coach Kirsty Hulse notes, it can have its pros and cons.

Being too good at something often feels like an oxymoron.

After all, how can there be negatives to excelling at something that’s considered to be a good thing, whether it’s in a personal or professional setting?

Well, believe it or not, it is possible – and one area where the idea of being ‘too good’ crops up is when it comes to our careers. 

While going above and beyond to appease managers and outperforming in every possible way is a marker of strength, it can also have an impact on how you measure your performance in and out of the workplace.

Whether it’s getting less support from colleagues because you seem to be able to ‘handle it all’ or your success in the workplace directly affecting how you view yourself, being brilliant at everything you do isn’t always as good as it’s cracked up to be.

Even with the potential negatives, surely the positives outweigh it all – but how can we be sure?

Well, we’ve spoken to corporate confidence coach Kirsty Hulse to get the truth about whether you really can be too good at your job.

What are some of the pros of excelling in your job?

One of the pros of excelling in your job is the increased visibility within the company, says Hulse.

“The ability to be visible within a bigger business is helpful as it allows you to establish yourself as reliable and committed to the job,” she says. “And, if you’re looking to excel and be promoted in what is essentially a competitive environment, exceeding expectations can support in that longer term.”

What are some cons of being ‘too good at your job’?

“Counter to the above point, if we’re ‘too good’ at our jobs, this can sometimes mean that we are investing heavy emotions into our performance,” warns Hulse.

“It’s wonderful to show up, work hard and get things done – provided that is met with balance in other areas of our lives. We are not our work; we are so much more than that, and often when we’re high achievers, it can be easy to forget that.”

Hulse adds that it’s important to ensure we are setting boundaries with our time by not saying yes to too many things and being fairly compensated for our work. 

“Know your worth and your value, and make sure that this is represented by the business in terms of compensation – be that financial or in terms of your work/life balance.” 

Can employees be more at risk of burnout if it’s assumed they are able to do more than needed?

Burnout is one of the biggest concerns among employees, with The Workplace Health Report finding 76% of employees report moderate-to-high or high levels of stress. Being overly productive does pose a rising risk of burnout, which highlights that appropriate amounts of rest is key.

“We can of course have chapters in our careers when we are busier, but this has to be met with periods of rest and, crucially, not identifying our worth with our work too much,” says Hulse. 

“You can have a bad day at work, mess up that project, miss that deadline and still be really valued and supported. That’s crucial to remember.” 

How can people who feel they are really good at their job navigate their careers in a way that’s beneficial for their growth?

Being good at your job doesn’t have to be negative when you’re properly financially compensated and continue to challenge yourself and learn new things. However, the negatives that can come from being really good at your job mainly lie in where you place your role in your work/life balance and whether you make it your entire identity and invest in it too much. 

Being great in your career is something to be proud of – but being so efficient to the point where other aspects of your life start to falter or where the support you need isn’t there because people think you can do it all is where change needs to happen.

“If [you’re] too invested you may need to take a step back, catalogue your life as a whole and make sure you are truly prioritising all areas of [your life], from friendships to family, health and fun.

“It’s important to start creating a broader picture of your life outside of just your performance at work.”

Image: Getty

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