Everyone wants to be irreplaceable. We always want to feel like we’re one-of-a-kind. Valuable. If not because it makes us feel good, because it gives us a sense of security. After all, if you’re tough to replace at work, then you have heightened job security, right?
Say you have a position that isn’t all that special or skilled, though. How do you become a critical part of the team? How to do you go from faceless cog in the machine to the lynchpin holding it all together?
It might surprise you. Here are my top tips on how to become indispensable at work.
4 Steps to Become an Asset to Your Employer
1) Strip down to the essentials.
One of the things you’ve likely found out if you’ve worked in any industry for any length of time, especially the corporate world, is that there’s a lot of bloat. What I mean by that is that there are often ten steps where you really only need one, twenty people where you need two, and three times the allocated time given that you actually need to get a task done.
This can happen for a variety of reasons. Systems fail over time, people don’t do their job as they should, and rather than truly addressing the problem, failsafe after failsafe are piled on and the process gets longer and longer.
What you have to do is strip down to the essentials and see your work for what it is. It can be easy to grow overwhelmed by all there is to do and by all of the “fluff” that can obscure the true task at hand.
You can show your value by improving on the systems that are there. Don’t just be a cog, be an innovator who pushes the systems in place to work better and more efficiently.
2) Be all about efficiency.
If you want to be an asset to your employer, you want to focus on saving two things: time and money. You will also notice that many other employees are not concerned with this, particularly in big corporations where one can be relatively nameless and faceless.
Efficiency can distinguish you enormously when few others put the effort in to maximize their productivity. This can be pushed further when it is not done for your sake but for the sake of your employer. Are you being efficient not for the praise and recognition, but so that your employer benefits? If you want to be an asset to the company and climb the ladder, doing quality, efficient work must be at the forefront of your mind.
This means being organized, thinking ahead, anticipating problems, and beating people to the punch. You have to be two steps ahead at all times.
3) Seek mastery.
Doing quality, efficient work is where it starts but it can’t be where it ends. This only takes you so far when the boss is looking for someone to step into new roles that demand greater experience and skills. If you want to stand out and prove yourself as a valuable asset, you have to constantly pursue personal and professional growth.
You can't expect to be valuable if your skillset stays the same as the day you were hired. Years of experience don’t amount to much if your actual abilities are unchanged. Do you show real growth and potential? Are you an investment for your boss? If you want to be where you are for the long haul, prove to your employer that you are worth pouring into. That means being teachable and independently pursuing new skills that will benefit not just the position you have, but the position you want.
4) Take one for the team.
Finally, if you want to be an indispensable at work and have job security, you have to be prepared to sacrifice for your job. Be the one who takes one for the team. That means stepping out of your comfort zone, stepping up to the plate, taking on extra responsibilities, and paying more than your fair share. It means taking responsibility when you don’t have to. You have to be a leader even when you haven’t been called upon to lead. Take initiative.
If you want to be an invaluable asset, you have to show that that is who you are. Be the kind of person that steps in and creates such a high level of work that, when you’re gone, people struggle without you. Be the kind of worker that people can't do without.
What helped you "level jump" in the workplace? Share your experience in the comments.