The Danger of Being Too Good at Your Job

We all try to do the best we can at our jobs. Doing a great job at work typically means you’ll be considered for more promotions, have a higher chance of getting a salary increase and may even get some say in the projects you work on each day. But is there such a thing as being too good at your job?

The truth is that there are situations where being too good at your job could actually stunt your career, not improve it. While this doesn’t mean you should start showing up for work late or purposely making mistakes, understanding how and why being a top employee may hurt you is important.

So, how exactly can being great at your job hurt your career?

Your Boss Won’t Want to Let You Go

If you hope to move up within your company, you likely rely on your boss in one way or another to help move to the next role. Whether that’s helping you make the right connection with another department or suggesting to their supervisor you could take on more responsibilities, it can be important to have your boss want to see you succeed.

Being great at your job probably won’t mean your boss wants you to fail, but they may recognize how essential you are to their team. If you help their team function with ease, they may not want to see you go.

It can feel great to be wanted so strongly, but it can also cause you to feel restless in your job. If you’re not challenged or provided new opportunities, you can quickly become bored with your career. If you’re in the same mundane position for too long, you may even find other employees at your level pass you by.

Now, don’t try to convince your boss you’re not an essential member of your team just because you’re scared they will try to hoard you. But staying aware of this kind of behavior can help you identify if you need to look elsewhere for a new position. If you crave some new challenges but your boss seems to hold you back from getting promoted, talk to HR before looking at other companies.

Work May Become Your Everything

Work-life balance is incredibly important for maintaining happiness both in and out of the office. Having a strong work-life balance allows you to keep up with activities, relationships and hobbies while also giving you the opportunity to unwind after work and start each day fresh. But when you’re too good at your job, it may be difficult to maintain a proper work-life balance.

Being great at what you do means you’re the go-to source for your entire team. Whether you have coworkers asking you for help on a project or a boss constantly checking in with you on project statuses, it can feel like the entire department would crumble if you weren’t there to help everyone along. This can prevent you from taking vacation days, enjoying your time off, or even getting your own tasks done.

While you want to be a team player, you can’t be everything to everyone. If you’re constantly helping members of your team pick up their slack at the expense of your time with family or friends, you may be stretching yourself too thin.

Try to keep a clear line between work and your personal life. When you’re at work, do whatever you can to ensure the success of your team and company. But outside of office emergencies or other rare occurrences, enjoy your time away from the office — especially if you’re trying to take advantage of your vacation package.

The Success May Go to Your Head

Being great at your job can bring you some benefits around the office, but if you’ve developed a superiority complex because of those benefits, you could be seriously damaging your career. Success in your office may go straight to your head, hurting your professional relationships and damaging your credibility.

You need to remember you work as a part of a team, even if you are carrying a lot of the weight. Without the other members of your team, you can’t be as successful as you have been. If you start inappropriately treating them like your employees, you will probably be met with resistance.

But acting too self-important in the workplace can seriously damage your relationship with your boss. If you feel like you no longer need to listen to your boss’s instructions, you may find you’re:

  • Getting passed over for promotions
  • Receiving poor reviews
  • Not getting the projects you hoped for

Stay humble about your success. When you continue to function as a member of a team and not as the undesignated leader, you can bring your entire company to new levels of success.

Keep Potential Pitfalls in Mind at Your Work

We all want to be great at our jobs, but when you cross over into being “too great,” you may start to see your career slip. Stay aware of the ways over-performing in the workplace may hurt you and be prepared to make the appropriate decisions if you feel like your position isn’t the right fit. After all, you are in control of your success.

Have you encountered problems being too good at your job? Leave a comment below.

For more tips on advancing your career and how to make smart decisions in the workplace, subscribe to Punched Clocks.


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Sarah Landrum is the founder of Punched Clocks.

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