Certain types of employees, more so than others, tend to jump into projects outside their normal jobs. I classify these people into three groups: helpers, experts, and rogues.
Helpers get pulled away from their regular work because they are genuinely open and tend to be good at solving problems. And they usually have a hard time saying no. Inevitably, people are always asking them for help.
Experts are always getting asked to field a question or take a look at something because they usually know the answers. These types are more likely to suddenly find themselves tangled up in a project they didn’t intend to become involved in, rather than actively seek out new projects.
Rogues are drawn away from their work because they become intrigued by some interesting idea or initiative. Often these ideas are their own, but they can also from some other rogue on the team or in the organization.
In my experience, if there is someone chronically explaining to their boss why their work is falling behind, they are probably a helper, an expert, or a rogue. And their work is usually behind because they were busy doing something that really should have taken a backseat to their regular work.
Want to read more? Check out Bruce Tulgan’s book — The Art of Being Indispensable at Work