Even though the Great Recession is behind us and the economic recovery is (by most accounts) well underway, good jobs are hard to come by. So how can you be sure to keep yours once you’ve found it? Simple. By making yourself indispensable.
An example of indispensability
I was recently talking to a friend (let’s call him Steve) who related a story about one of his most valuable employees (let’s call him Mark). Times were tough, and Steve wasn’t actually hiring, but Mark showed up one day and got his foot in the door by offering to volunteer in return for the work experience. Steve checked out his resume and gave him a chance.
Over the next few months, Mark proved his worth – and then some. According to Steve, he made himself completely indispensable. Ultimately, Steve couldn’t help but hire him. And what a great decision that was. Mark has now become the “go to” guy for a number of things around the workplace, and Steve can hardly imagine how they got by without him. Do you think Mark has job security? You bet he does.
And… The exact opposite
At the same time, I’ve recently had the exact opposite experience with an employee. While I’ve generally been good at judging talent and character, I seriously mis-judged this guy. After a few decent months, his work ethic started to slip and we had all sort of problems. He was regularly late to work, he lacked initiative, and he had questionable judgment when he actually bothered to get things done.
In short, we just couldn’t rely on him to get the job done, so people end up working around him. He became little more than an obstacle – and an expensive one at that. We did what we could to get him back on track, but nothing worked. So… Do you think he has job security? Nope. In fact, he’s already gone.
Sure, he might have been having problems outside the workplace, but guess that’s no excuse. Everyone is dealing with a ton of stuff in the outside world. You’re not special, and your burdens aren’t any greater than those of the people around you. Life is hard, but you still need to show up and do your job. If you don’t, you might just find yourself living on unemployment.
Becoming a better employee
Let’s start with the basics. Don’t be late. Ever. Don’t fake sick days. Don’t make excuses when things go awry. Take responsibility for your actions. And don’t do busy work just to appear busy. Your boss isn’t stupid, so don’t try to pull the wool over their eyes. You’re just setting yourself up for failure if you do.
Now that you’ve covered the basics…
Spend the time and effort to do your job to the best of your abilities. You have to be at work all day, so why not make the most of it? Take initiative. Identify problems and solve them. Ask questions. Work quickly and efficiently. Help others when they need help – but don’t do their jobs for them. Become a resource. Make yourself the “go to” guy (or gal) at your workplace.
In short, make yourself indispensable.
If you do this, you’ll greatly increase your job security. I promise. And who knows… You might even get yourself a raise or – gasp! – a promotion along the way.
5 Responses to “Make Yourself Indispensable”
Hey Chuck – here we are several months after your post, and… Europe hasn’t collapsed and the US economy is starting to improve.
How are those land sales in Florida workin’ out for ya?
You seriously think the “Great Recession” is behind us?? Have you paid any attention to the collapse of Europe and our HUGE debt crisis heading for another gigantic crash? Wow, I’ve got land for you in Florida…
Courtney has a point here, you could not be replaced because you are too indispensable in the current position that considering a promotion would be detrimental in the department. I think we all fall down to the same thing here, make the best of what you do and become better as to constantly become better.
I agree with the article, but there is a fine line between being indispensable and being deemed threatening by your supervisor. I worked in a place with a supervisor who initially welcomed me wholeheartedly.
As time went on and she learned that my academic background and life/work experiences were superior to hers, she became fearful that I would outshine her. This woman felt uncomfortable around me because others were singing my praises. I was “indispensable” due to my skills and qualifications, but this woman tried her best to hold me back. I finally left when I had a better paying job offer elsewhere.
So be forewarned: “indispensable” is no shield against office politics and the dark side of human nature.
I’ve heard the corollary to this is that if you’re TOO indispensable, you won’t get promoted because they’ll never be able to hire someone to replace you!