Job insecurity is a concern for many but while making yourself indispensible is a wise move, getting the balance right isn’t always easy. Here the career experts reveal seven ways to make yourself an irreplaceable employee – without giving your life over to the job.
1. Be a bright spark
People who regularly come up with ideas and suggestions are always valued by a company. ‘Not every idea you come up with will be a gem (and you don’t want to be jumping up and down like a Labrador), but if you can offer ideas and new ways of looking at things, it sets you apart as bringing something extra to the role,’ says Corinne Mills, Managing Director of Personal Career Management and author of “Career Coach: Your personal workbook for a better career”. Managers don’t just want people to carry out tasks, they want someone who can show independent thinking and find ways to do things better – and if that makes or saves the department money, so much the better.’
2. Make the boss look good
Making the occasional cup of tea is all very nice, but you’ll have to do more if you want to impress the boss. Make your manager look good – without taking credit for yourself – and you’ll soon become a valued member of the team. ‘Think ahead, so if you know your boss has a big presentation coming up, help by doing some research,’ says Corinne. ‘Email it to them and say “I came across this and thought it might prove useful.”‘ Equally, it’s a good idea to anticipate the tasks you know your boss dislikes or finds difficult and be prepared to take them on.
3. Accentuate the positive
No one is perfect and your boss undoubtedly has many weaknesses, but it rarely helps to highlight them to senior management. ‘Many people fall into the trap of complaining at work,’ says Corinne, ‘but unless you can suggest positive ways to improve things, it’s better to keep quiet than be labelled a negative influence.’ Instead, accentuate and build upon the positive. ‘No one likes a suck-up and you should never flatter for the sake of it, but if your boss or team mate has done a good job, there’s nothing wrong in celebrating that,’ says Corinne. ‘People who get results and do it with enthusiasm and positivity are the ones managers want to keep around.’
4. Set some boundaries
As much as you want to be indispensible (and as nice as it feels to be needed) it’s vital to lay down some boundaries. ‘I hear people say, “My boss calls me at all hours of the day and night,”‘ says Corinne. ‘If that’s the case, switch your phone off! ‘The only person who can set boundaries is you – and if you fail to do that, you’re setting yourself up to burn out.’ You don’t have to be difficult, says Corinne, just pleasantly explain that you were not available at the time – but are willing to do what you can to help now.
5. Embrace change
Make an effort to learn new technology and keep your skills up to date – which might mean asking the company to send you on relevant training, or even paying and doing it in your own time. ‘Always be prepared to share your new skills or training,’ says John Lees, career coach and author of “How To Get A Job You’ll Love”. ‘If you’re known as the person who introduced a new technology, system or a better way of doing things to the department, you’ll instantly be seen as a valuable asset.’
6. Make yourself an authority
Get to know a system inside out – whether that’s the payment process or computer system – and be prepared to solve any problems that arise. ‘Before you know it, you’ll have become a go-to authority on it,’ says John, which can only add to your value as an employee. ‘Choose something that is vital to the business but which is baffling or boring to most people and you may soon find you become indispensible.’
7. Be a trustworthy source of information
Nobody is suggesting you become a spy, but passing on relevant information to your boss could pay dividends. ‘Managers are very busy people and don’t always have time to read every email or keep up to date with everything that’s happening across the company,’ says John. ‘Keep them in the loop about things happening in the company, important industry events or what the competitors are up to, and you’ll increase your worth to them overnight.’
Career Coach: Your personal workbook for a better career by Corinne Mills, Trotman; 1 edition (10 Oct 2011)
How To Get A Job You’ll Love by John Lees, McGraw-Hill Professional; 6 edition (1 Aug 2010)