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I have been commended for doing a good job building a team and I currently have absolutely zero hands-on work. I also believe the team is doing very well on their own and need minimal supervision. Or more precisely, they now communicate directly with the layer of management above me, making my current role just that of an occasional mediator.

If I have no more "real" work, am I basically redundant and can get let go for that?

Are there any measures I can take to still keep my job or should I start searching elsewhere?

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Typically this is a good time to work "on the business", not just "in the business". Use the time to research best practices, new technologies, and management techniques. Companies promote people that are smart enough to make themselves "redundant". So prep for that! –  Madmanta May 28 at 20:56
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Maybe you need to create some problems, instead of just focusing on solutions... :) –  Vector May 29 at 10:04
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Your username amuses me, because Durant's Hidden Ability is Truant. I wonder if that was deliberate? :p –  Niet the Dark Absol May 29 at 10:41
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related question (the opposite perspective): Should I stay irreplaceable in the company by keeping all skills to myself? –  gnat May 29 at 18:24

4 Answers 4

I suppose, theoretically, a terribly short-sighted organization might potentially see a manager with little to do in this situation and consider laying that person off. But that would be exceptionally rare. And quite stupid.

Companies are generally not in the business of laying off people with a proven record of being able to create successful self-managing teams. They're generally in the business of promoting those folks. Or at least letting them assemble new teams in different parts of the organization.

Have you had a conversation with your manager about what he or she sees you doing moving forward? Have you explained that you're starting to run out of tasks to do for your current team and that you're interested in opportunities to find other ways to contribute?

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@RiRedundantDurant - I'd generally be more specific. It may not be obvious to a manager that the fact that something is "almost automatic" and runs without "constant intervention" means that you're running out of work to do and interested in finding other challenges. Ideally, you'd bring with you some suggestions for new challenges that you'd like to take on, i.e. you'd like to build another team to tackle some other challenge or you'd like to talk about opportunities to move to some other leadership position. –  Justin Cave May 29 at 2:23
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I agree that it's stupid, but I'm not sure it's so rare. Perhaps it depends on the industry/line of business you're dealing with. –  Vector May 29 at 10:01
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@Vector: I think it would be rare for a company to go out of its way to seize an unexpected opportunity to get rid of this person, when they could seize the same opportunity to look for something else useful for them to do. Companies and industries that generally don't keep a lot of long-term employees, just assemble and drop teams, sure: they wouldn't prolong a team-construction role beyond the point where the team has been constructed and works. –  Steve Jessop May 29 at 12:12
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@Vector: let's hope for the questioner's sake that since he hasn't observed that to happen commonly at his employer, they won't make an exception for him just because he did a better job than most! –  Steve Jessop May 29 at 17:11

Even as you work yourself out of a job, you try to work yourself into a new one.

In my first job as a senior engineer of a company and its computer expert, I used to write programs that automated our engineering calculations and I used to train the engineers to use them to the point where they were as effective and efficient as I was. This led me to keep searching for ways to better automate processes and make the firm more efficient. I have to say that I kept this game up for 12 years as each change of technology paradigm brought up its challenges and introduced new opportunities.

You should take the fact that your people are getting to be as good as you as a challenge for you to keep getting better than they are. If you look around you and you find no problem to solve, then perhaps you are thinking on too small a scale. Think of exploring and learning some new technologies that may help other teams not just yours solve problems that may be beyond their ability to solve at the moment. Or technologies that you can learn and that you can train your team to become more productive.

You are a problem solver. So find problems to solve. The fact that your team can do its job should give you the luxury of spending your time at the bleeding edge. At my last job, I used to bleed so that the rest of the firm didn't have to :) And I used to have the feeling that,unlike others, I was under pressure to create my own job for myself every single day - talk about living by your wits :)

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Duh!

Take yourself out to the carpark and slap yourself around.

You were brought in to provide a solution to a need: because you were "useful".

You solved that problem by creating a self sufficient continual solution to that need, which no longer needs you: good news, you are now "super useful".

You have met the need and extracted yourself from serving it. Plenty of highly successful consulting companies are built on that same business model of (1) introduce a high quality problem solver to scope whats needed to solve a probem (2) create a team (as you have done), and (3) extract the high quality problem solver so they are available for winning / fulfilling the next assignment.

I would advise you to report to your bosses this is exactly what you have done. I don't think they will be keen to let you go. You've delivered, and now you're available for the other problems they need solved.

If they don't see the value, bye bye. I would advise you hit the recruitment circuit or form your own business. Now.

I believe if you're always providing value, there will be people willing to pay for it. Too many highly skilled but not so self confident people end up feeling they need to justify their value by creating a reason to stay in a role. That is a resource-of-1 limited vision from the start, and companies aren't stupid: any person that's a critical dependancy is a RISKY ASSET.

Well done on your accomplishment. I suspect you have a very lucrative and continually fun career ahead.

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As a manager, it is your job to make sure your team has everything it needs so it can concentrate on producing your product. You are the one shaping their environment, shielding them from outside problems, and resolving in-team frictions.

There are lots of things which a team member can do more effectively in the course of their work instead of having it go through a boss. Direct communication to other departments, either for collaboration or for reporting higher up the chain, can be a very good thing, eliminating a whole host of Chinese-whispers-like problems and if you created that, kudos to you.

But it doesn't make you redundant. While everything goes well, you don't need to intervene. But problems always crop up. And then, your team will not have the power or skills needed to solve them. Even if it can solve it, it shouldn't: it is your job to take care of this ugly stuff, so they can concentrate on actual production work. It is great that your team can handle the everyday stuff with minimal fuss and without your intervention, but when extraordinary stuff happens, you have to step in and deal with it.

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