Are you the ‘go to’ person in the office when people need something done? Yet it is the others who get promoted? Maybe you run your own business but still end up being taken advantage of by your suppliers or customers. Are you the family organiser and the one who always know what is happening and when? Is this a role that you love playing or does it sometimes irritate you that others seem so incapable of helping themselves? Are you fed up of being the person everyone relies on? Do you do it because you like to be nice and helpful? Read on to learn why this might not be good for your career or your home life.

Many years ago I worked as an HR Manager for a large organisation and someone introduced the concept of being a Flossie. Learning about Flossie really made a difference to my working life and my career and I would like to share this with you in the hope that it will make a difference to you or someone you know. At the time I was a newly appointed HR Manager and was studying for my professional qualifications. I’d had a traditional upbringing and thought that it was important to always be helpful, sometimes I would do this to the detriment of my own work. The result is that I had to work long hours when others who I had assisted had gone home to finish off my workload!

Flossie is the person in the office who is indispensable. Now Flossie can be male or female. However, as generally there are more female Flossie’s I will use the female pronoun. The underlying characteristic of Flossie is that she is a nice person, hard working and always helpful.  Flossie holds the place together. Now Flossie would like to get on and maybe get the next level job and her strategy around how to make this happen is about doing a fantastic job in her current role. However, the reality is that often Flossie ends up being overworked and feeling put on and taken advantage of. This was the position I was getting myself into! Flossie is fed up of being the person everyone relies on!

Over my career and even now running my own coaching and consultancy business, I’ve met countless Flossie’s and some end up bitter and exhausted by how much work they put in and how little recognition, including financial, they get for it. For small business owners, it is often because their business is their baby and they know how important their customers and clients are. However, often they put their customers need ahead of their own and this results in them never saying No to them, even when they should.

For employees, it results in them not achieving their full potential. A study identified that of the 3 factors, image, exposure and performance on the job, that influence whether some gets promoted being good at your current job only counts for 10%. The other two factors: Image 30% and exposure 60%. When I am coaching clients around building their careers, I ensure that they are working on their personal brand and internal and external networks and not just current job performance.

Remember Flossie spends so much time on doing a great job for everybody that she doesn’t have any time or energy to spend on the other important elements. Also, Flossie is the person who supports everyone else be successful but at the cost of her own business or personal life.

3 key things that helped.

So how did I move from being Flossie to being recognised and leading a team and being confident enough to run my own business? These are the key things that helped:

Saying No.

I learnt to be more assertive. For me, a large part of this was learning to say No to others. This was difficult as I had been conditioned to please others and be nice. So I started by saying yes less! Now I can’t say that others always liked this but they did gradually get used to it.

Establish boundaries.

By being more assertive I started to set appropriate boundaries around my time and my workload. I started to prioritise my own work and then assist others once my work was done. This meant that I go home on time again and the impression given to my boss was that I was managing my workload and in control. Now with my own business,I have had to set the boundaries around being available for my clients and when I have downtime for my own relaxation and enjoyment. I firmly believe that this makes me a better coach so ultimately it is a win/ win.

Learning to delegate.

There are a number of reasons that we find it hard to delegate. One, in particular, is that when we start to rise up the organisation hierarchy we know how to do that jobs beneath us and so often think that we can do it as well or quicker than getting someone else to do it. Another is that we feel uncomfortable able about asking someone else to do something for us, particularly if we can do it ourselves or we view it as a low-level boring job! However, if you are going to be able to spend your time working on ‘value-add’ tasks you must free up some of your time by delegating. Remember that you can delegate chores that need doing at home as well as things that need to happen at work and in your business. You do not have to do it all!

I hope that you have found this interesting and helpful, I’d love to know if you are or have been a Flossie and what helped you move on. Please leave your comments below.

Suzanne