Why strategically ignoring work will get you promoted

Yes, you read that right. Ignoring work can be the ticket to the top. “What the??!!” I hear you say.  

Yep, here’s the low down on why ignoring work will get you promoted.  

There is officially a thing called ‘non-promotable work’ (NPW) or ‘invisible work’. It’s the work that isn’t seen to add any strategic value to a business, but still needs to get done. It includes things like booking meeting rooms, organising team dinners, buying birthday cards and gifts, covering for those away (particularly in lower roles), clearing up after meetings, taking minutes or sitting on low value committees and working groups. Incidentally, most of this work is done by women. Women are more likely than men to volunteer, AND more likely to be volunteered, by both male and female leaders. Think about it. In your career to date, who has done most of the tasks I’ve outlined above? Chances are it was a woman. 

Whether you are male or female, the more of this NPW you do, the less strategic and important work you have time to do. So stop doing it. Seriously. Just stop. 

Next time you go to volunteer yourself because there is that deathly silence, where no one is stepping forward, sit still and zip it. Do. Not. Volunteer. If you are volunteered, graciously say yes, you are happy to be the first to do this task and then set up a roster going forward, so this work can be cycled around the team evenly. 

If you are a leader, stop picking women, or allowing women to be the only ones to do this work. Pay attention to the ratios. Use the list above and monitor who is doing this work. It is your job to make sure the burden is evenly spread. You will get better results from everyone if you do. No brainer. 

This is not about not being a good team player, or going the extra mile, or wanting to be helpful and supportive. It’s about protecting your ability to do the work you were hired to do, to the best of your ability. This means you need to ignore the work that doesn’t bring out your best, and double down on the skills that will make you shine.  

You owe it to yourself, and to your company, to do great work. So go ahead. Do great work.