Want a Smooth Running Organization? Then Stay in Your Lane

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I think there are two types of people in the world:

  1. People who stay in their lane;
  2. People who don’t stay in their lane.

The first group, lane stayers, are the type of people who follow a natural life path. Basically, these are the people who don’t push the natural evolution of their lives — I started at this company. I worked my job. In a certain time I’ll get promoted. There is a sequence of life that I’ll follow, and for the most part, things will work out.

The natural order of things

Those leaving their lane don’t agree with their natural order of things. Nope, I don’t want to wait for my things to happen. I’m going to make my own things happen. I don’t believe there is a path for me, so I’m going to create your own.

We have both of these types of people in our organization. Unfortunately, we try and sell to people that those who are leaving their lane are somehow better, when in reality, if you diagnose the best organizations, you will usually find a higher percentage of people who stay in their lane.

© Fearne - Fotolia
© Fearne – Fotolia

The natural order of organizational effectiveness relies on people staying in their lane. If we had everyone leaving their lane, it would cause chaos. Our organizations would be in constant turmoil.

Staying in your lane is a weakness.

I started out in my career as that person who couldn’t stay in his lane. I wanted to leave my lane constantly because I thought that was my way to success. As I got more tenured in my career, I realized that those friends and peers who stayed in their lane tended to reach a higher level of success faster!

Staying in your lane isn’t easy

Part of it is patience. Part of it is loyalty. Part of it is confidence in your abilities in the environment you’re in.

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Staying your lane isn’t easy to do. We get so much media thrown at us that tells us to get out of our lanes. They call it a challenge. They say we are pushing ourselves to a higher level. They are ones who also believe they need to get out of their lane.

Those who stay in their lane don’t usually feel a need to tell people about it. That’s why it’s not popular. That’s why you don’t see books about it, and TED talks about it.

Staying in your lane is the new black. Try it out.

This was originally published on Tim Sackett’s blog, The Tim Sackett Project.

Tim Sackett, MS, SPHR is executive vice president of HRU Technical Resources, a contingent staffing firm in Lansing, MI. Tim has 20 years of HR and talent background split evenly between corporate HR gigs among the Fortune 500 and the HR vendor community ? so he gets it from both sides of the desk. A frequent contributor to the talent blog Fistful of Talent, Tim also speaks at many HR conferences and events. Contact him here.

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