Disclaimer: Even though I use the word “guy” the go-to person can be any gender. Don’t jump my shit about it.
When you first start a job you’re an ignorant idiot and have no idea what the hell is going on. That is understandable because you’re new. No one is going to ask you to do anything remotely important or critical because you’re an ignorant idiot. You’ll probably be mopping or sweeping a floor just to do something because no one is going to trust you with anything else. As time goes on you’re expected to know more and more about the job that is assigned to you, to understand how your single work process fits in with the company-at-large’s goals in its business, and to guide others in how to do their jobs efficiently and correctly. All jobs start like this, but not all jobs end like this. Sometimes, if you stay at a job long enough, or are a reliable enough worker, you transform from the ignorant new-guy, to the dude-who-works-here, and finally into “the go-to guy.” You become the guy that your boss asks to do everything and comes to you nearly every time they need something. Need coverage when someone called in? Call Mr. (or Ms.) Go-To Guy/Gal even if it’s their day off! Need something done quickly and promptly and need it done correctly? Where’s Go-to person at? Anything odd, important, or time-sensitive will be delegated to you. It Sucks and here’s why (and how!).
Two (or more) types of people
I’m a nice guy. I don’t cuss people out or throw a fit when my boss asks me to do something at work. I mean it is called “work” for a reason and if you’re surprised you have to work at work I feel sorry for you; you’re a special kind of idiot. If I have to work slightly harder than someone else I don’t let it bother me unless it becomes a chronic thing where I’m busting my ass while they do nothing. I’m also a perfectionist that takes pride in their work. Even if I am given some tiny, stupid, mundane thing to do, I try to do it in an acceptable and even outstanding fashion while still being efficient. Even if it’s sweeping the floor, I try to do a decent job at it, and try to sweep in a way that takes the least amount of steps in keeping with my love of efficiency. I also realize that the pride you do a job with is visible to others: if you’re a lazy asshole that tries harder to get out of work than the work would actually require, everyone else will know it and will hate you for it. It’s simply not a problem to work while at work, and to work with some dignity towards yourself and the quality of job you’re doing. It makes everybody’s lives more enjoyable.
Speaking of the lazy asshole, guess who is the second type of person? Yeah, the lazy asshole. Take everything I said before, and invert it. When I said I don’t throw a fit when given a job to do, the lazy asshole does throw a fit. This person does their assigned job and no more. Anything extra given to them, even if everyone else also has extra work, will whine, complain, and bitch in the exact same way a 3-year-old does when they don’t get their way. They’re pieces of shit, lazy, and no one likes to work with them. This person has no regard for the quality of work they do or how they are perceived by their coworkers. They’re there to earn a paycheck and they will do it in the most minimally labor-intensive way possible. Usually they’re hated by their fellow coworkers, because if someone is being paid the same that you are you’d expect them to do about the same amount of work. That’s all cool and fine I guess, except there is one special person that also doesn’t want to work with this person: the boss.
If you are a supervisor (if you are, please take this to heart), and you need something done, who would you ask? Your options are the reliable guy or the asshole guy. One guy will get the job done seriously and without complaint while the other will half-ass the job and whine the whole time about it. It doesn’t take a fucking genius to know who’s going to get picked.
One time is fine, sure, but anytime a job needs to be done, the boss prefers to ask the good worker. This further cements their reliability and makes them even more attractive to give extra, important or odd jobs to. Eventually, by being a decent worker who isn’t an ass, you end up being the go-to worker who the boss, and other forms of management, go to if they need something done. It’s a positive feedback loop: by being a good worker you earn more of a reputation, which makes you even demanded by the boss, which gives you even more reputation, and so on. The lazy asshole gets no extra work because it’s too much of a hassle to deal with them in the first place.
The obvious shitty part of this is that it’s unfair. That’s what Sucks about turning into the go-to person. You’d expect the good worker to be rewarded with less work while the asshole gets slammed with the extra crap, and maybe even fired. It Sucks because reality doesn’t work that way. In the past 4 jobs I’ve worked, I inevitably always become one of the go-to guys, and while I’ve found ways to postpone it, it always seems to happen. Sadly, taking on more and more responsibilities as the go-to guy at work eventually leads me to a breaking point where I just quit the job. I yearned for the early days of a job where I could work, be good at what I was doing, but where I didn’t have that reputation for being such a good worker. They were simple times, back then.
If you’re smart and realize this trend is a thing, you want to break it. This is bad because you start to act like not a very good worker even though you are. At my current job I took a different shift where no one knew me, my work skills, and what I was trained in. I was a nobody and no one asked me to do anything. It was like hitting the reset button on being a go-to guy, and it’s been great so far. If you take a new job, you might lay low and not volunteer to learn anything new, because then your “good worker” secret might be known and you’ll end up as that guy. It’s pretty shitty and demoralizing to know that you need to play lazy at a job because the bosses will work you to death if you show them you’re a good worker. That’s how it is though. It Sucks. Don’t become the go-to person at work.