By JENNIFER SMITH (FastCompany )
One of the things we learned in grade school was the importance of helping others. Whether it was showing the new kid how to find the cafeteria or collecting papers for the teacher, the concept was clear: being helpful is a virtue.
But once we entered the business world, we soon learned that being a helper at the office—especially today, when “the office” is virtual for many—comes at the cost of our personal productivity and creativity.
Long-tenured employees with deep institutional knowledge are leaned on by their peers for instructions or approval. High performers are frequently pulled away from their own work to help newer employees, and they are asked to carry more weight than others. Those less-tenured workers can be paralyzed while waiting for sign-off on their own work.
This “collaboration overload” can be detrimental not only to our job performance, but our general well-being. It’s crucial that organizations empower their employees to protect their time—and their sanity—so their instinct to be helpful doesn’t cause more harm than good.