5 ways to make yourself indispensable at work
You can never eliminate the risk of a layoff, but you can increase your value to an employer by making yourself indispensable. Here, five ways to become invaluable while still being a team player:
Play well with others.
Some people think that the best way to become indispensable is to make sure nobody else knows how to do their job. But that’s overly territorial and counterproductive in today’s collaborative work environments, says Anita Cassard, a human resources consultant and lead faculty and area chair in the University of Phoenix MBA program.
“In today’s workplace, everything is about exchanging ideas, not hoarding them,” she says. “Employers value workers who can communicate well, share knowledge and work as part of a cohesive team.”
“Employees should keep their skills up to date by constantly being open to learning opportunities,” says Andre Boyer, a former officer in the Marines and lead faculty and area chair for human resources courses in the MBA program.
“Take classes, attend conferences, read journals and network with others in your professional field,” Boyers adds. He also recommends joining professional organizations and seeking out any additional training opportunities your employer offers.
Develop soft skills.
Although technical know-how is important, it’s often not what motivates companies to retain their top talent, according to Cassard. “In today’s labor market, there are plenty of qualified candidates out there with nearly identical technical skills,” she explains. “What really sets these candidates apart from one another are their soft skills.”
When they can pick and choose among qualified candidates, companies place special emphasis on soft skills, which can include everything from communication skills and cultural literacy to flexibility and the ability to think critically, Cassard says.
“Employees who really understand what happens in the larger environment instead of only in their own cubicles are the employees of the future,” she says.
Be a mentor.
Mentoring and reverse mentoring your colleagues can serve you well, Boyer notes. “If I have knowledge or abilities that can help another person or department be successful, I will teach those skills to others,” he says. “That benefits both you and the organization."
Many companies encourage senior-level employees to mentor junior ones. In reverse mentoring, senior managers seek advice from younger or junior workers to better understand new trends such as social media, mobile technologies and alternative work schedules.
Boyer reports that mentoring has helped him work his way up the ladder at multiple companies. “It can actually increase one’s contribution to the organization,” he says.
“What employers value the most today are employees who have the capacity to meet their assigned goals consistently while also continuously adding to that capacity,” Cassard explains.
Workers should pay close attention to their assigned tasks, she recommends, and also set personal goals for themselves.
“These days, you aren’t just working for pay,” she says. “You’re working for impact and results.”