Anyone that has worked for more than a few years knows your job is just as much about relationship-building and good people skills as it is about having the skills needed to do the work. While every job requires you to be good at something, the people who rise to the top of an organization are the ones that invest their time and energy by bringing value in unique ways that lead to increased exposure.
How might life be different if you were the go-to person at work?
How would being an employee that others look up to feel?
How would getting your work in front of the right people’s eyes impact your chances at a promotion, pay increase, or potential to jump careers?
Advancing the skill set required for your job aside, your goal as an employee should be to become someone they can’t live without — to be indispensable.
Step Up, Stand Out: 8 Habits to Make You Indispensable at Work
Success usually comes to those who are too busy to be looking for it.
– Henry David Thoreau
There are three things you must be at work to become indispensable:
- Be someone your supervisor trusts.
- Be someone your supervisor likes.
- Be someone that stands out from the other employees.
Said another way, be reliable, enjoyable to be around, and unique in your own right, and you will become something others are not.
Almost immediately, your commitment towards these three qualities will start to create opportunities that weren’t there before. Here are eight habits that will get you started on your path to becoming indispensable.
1. Don’t just be early, be early and already in motion by the time others are getting to work
Getting to work early only to spend that time making coffee is time wasted.
Make it your everyday goal to be early and doing something before you’re technically “on the clock.” Even if you are there a measly three minutes before others start showing up, you were still there first. It won’t take long for people to notice that you’re the one leading by example.
2. Over-deliver on the promises you make
Being reliable is one thing, but you’ll take yourself to the next level by becoming someone that routinely offers up good surprises.
Assess your work, and see how you can over-deliver on the promise you’ve made. Can you organize the data you’ve crunched by putting it in a nice folder? Can you print out an individual copy for each member of the meeting with their name on it? Offering that extra 1% will get you noticed and appreciated much quicker than you may think.
3. Never make promises you can’t keep
We’ve all been on the receiving end of someone not holding true to a promise they’ve made. It’s never fun, and depending on the magnitude of the promise that was made, it can be painful or taken personally.
Get in the habit of being sure that you can meet the requirements of the promises you make. If you mess up and realize you can’t hold up your end, inform everyone affected by this right away.
At the very least, you will get some credit for being thoughtful and considerate of their time.
4. Be ‘that’ person people come to for guidance on something — even if it’s a niche topic
People love it when you can shorten their learning curve on something — and they won’t forget it.Know what you know, and offer up your unique set of skills when the opportunities naturally present themselves. Don’t insist on helping people not asking for it. Whether you are excellent with technology or the master of organizational skills, let word of mouth be how people find out.
Fill a specific need that no one else can so that no one else can do what you do in the workplace.
5. Don’t be ‘that’ person that gives advice no one asked for
The opposite side of the coin related to habit #4: Absolutely no one likes a know-it-all.
If you routinely find yourself talking around the main points whil trying to offer an explanation, you probably shouldn’t be teaching others on the subject. It’s far more powerful to be a true expert in a tiny niche than to be boastful in many.
Sometimes the path to becoming indispensable is through the the things you didn’t say.
6. Deliver your messages in a way only you can, and use stories and analogies to make your points
It’s human nature to love a good story.
Find a unique way to offer up insights and treat your messages like you’re on stage. Draw on personal experiences whenever possible, but remain objective in telling your story. Don’t be theatrical to the point that you freak others out, but engage listeners through powerful comparisons, analogies, and metaphors.
7. Leave your footprint on everything that you do — but never point one out
Find subtle ways to let others know you put in quality work. Don’t braggadociously exclaim your greatness at the bottom of a document, but don’t remain silent and get lost in the crowd.
Maybe you edit a document and leave a small note with your name on it. The fact is that the more tangible examples you give people of what you bring to the workplace, the better.
Next month when your supervisors are in a meeting talking through recent projects, your name will come up when someone else’s doesn’t — all because you made an effort to show others exactly what work you did. Mission accomplished.
8. Let who you are be more important than your job title, and don’t always go by the book
Find unique and innovative ways to get your work done. By now, you understand that the more you stand out in a positive way, the more indispensable you become to the people you work with.
Don’t be afraid to go off the cuff and experiment with new approaches to monotonous tasks. There can be a thin line here where defiance towards the norm can become a liability, so tread lightly. Done enough, you might rewrite the ‘standard’ way of doing something around the office.
Step up, stand out
Chances are high that, with enough training, anyone can do the work you do. But no one can replace who you are in the workplace. That is the benefit of becoming indispensable. These are the habits that will get you started on the path. Commit to one, two or all of them over the next few weeks, and see the results.
It might surprise you how quickly others notice that you aren’t like everyone else, and that you deserve an opportunity to show the people who matter exactly who you can be.