Work Yourself Out of a Job

“Don’t work yourself out of a job!”  This was a typical refrain from a world which no longer exists.  Some people, though, continue to think and behave as if it does.

When work was primarily about mass production – be it producing cars, steel, widgets, or even paving roads – workers routinely exercised “workplace governors” to keep the pace of the production at a level which would guarantee more work in future.  Work too much and too hard and you just might not have the work to come back to tomorrow – thus, no paycheck.

However, today we toil in a different vineyard.  Instead of worrying about “working ourselves out of a job,” we should be acting as if we are trying to work ourselves out of a job.

Think of it this way.

In today’s reality, there is much less “mass” and much more “customized.”  Much less focus on “production” and much more on “relationship building.”  And “customized relationship-building” is the opposite of “mass production.”

There is little to no duplication.  It matters what individual donors believe, request, and enjoy.  The interactions we have can be wildly diverse.  The idea of “quality control,” has been replaced by the concept of “value-add.”

Want to raise more money for your organization?  Build more meaningful, personalized relationships with individuals who have financial capacity.  That’s our more chaotic, non-assembly line reality.

It doesn’t matter if you enter gifts, run the phonathon, direct the annual fund, manage a portfolio of major donors,  serve as vice president, or even CEO of the organization.  The focus of each of those positions should be to help create more personal and meaningful relationships for the organization.

When we act like we are trying to work ourselves out of a job, we encourage and “grow” those around us, we enhance the systems in our office so that personalized service provided to our constituencies becomes habitual, and we individualize our strategies.  We are entrepreneurial.  We respond creatively.  We are anti-mass production.

Unlike the assembly-line of years gone by, our results are enhanced when we add value to every aspect of the advancement process.  Our jobs have changed and so should our thinking.



  1. It ain’t about the money, it ain’t about the job. It’s about building relationships and helping others grow with you. Great Blog! It means I’m on the right path

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