‘Staying in your lane’ is an interesting ideal in a contemporary, corporate setting. Nowadays, collaboration is held in such high-esteem that businesses will invest millions in training, installing, and implementing workplace collaboration software. That hardly sounds like ‘staying in your lane.’
But then again, imagine if responsibility was shared among the entire company: No individual duties, just one large goal. How would the organization be accountable? Who would act on what? This ideal is just as ineffective.
Of course, both of these models are radicalizations, but the contrast begs an important question: To what degree is ‘staying in your lane’ beneficial?
Perhaps an analogy tracing back to origin of the phrase, ‘stay in your lane’ would be helpful.
Corporate Life is a Highway
Imagine you’re driving on a highway right before rush hour. Traffic is flowing, but heavy. Heeding the advice you’ve received so many times before, you ‘stay in your lane’ and keep your focus riveted on the road before you. In fact, your focus is so riveted that you neglect to identify the driver veering out of their lane, and into yours.
Obviously, this scenario ends in a disaster.
Adversely, what if every driver on a highway oscillated the road with no regard to their lane? It’s not difficult to imagine the carnage that would quickly ensue.
Ideal road conditions are intuitive: why shouldn’t work conditions be?
Like a good driver, your priority focus should always be on what’s in front of you, but never stop watching out for your peers.
To demonstrate this principle in action, here are a few ‘dos and don’ts’ for staying in your lane.
- Respect the responsibilities of others. Every task should have an owner, and every owner should own their task.
- Ultimately, the tasks assigned to you take priority. But, just as often as your workload allows, be quick to offer support to others.
- Overstep boundaries. If there’s grey area in the nature of a task, there’s no harm in clarifying with your manager or peer who’s responsible for the task.
- Be ignorant to the tasks around you. If you’re always so head-down that you neglect your team, you’ll be blind to the road ahead.
‘Staying in your lane’ can be tricky phrase in a contemporary corporate setting, but by understanding the balance of focus and collaboration, you can stay driven, with your team, for the long-haul.