3 Tips for Becoming Just That
As many of us spend time reflecting on this year and planning for next, we may find that we’d like to increase the influence we have at work and with those around us. Maybe we’ve just started a new job or been recently promoted to a new role. Maybe we’ve been waiting and hoping for that promotion or that leadership opportunity or cool project, and we don’t seem to be catching the breaks we were hoping for. Maybe we’ve learned more about the organization we’re in and have increased our commitment to it and want to live that out on a more intentional basis.
And so, we offer three simple tips for becoming indispensable.
1. Effective Communication
No surprise there! We’re always talking about communication. It’s critical – our success depends on communicating effectively. It’s hard – communicating effectively takes more time, energy, and effort than most are willing to put in. And it’s not about “me” – the whole point of effective communication is to shift the focus to the other person, making sure they get what they need.
- What to do? To become indispensable, become the one who consistently demonstrates that communication is important to you; be the one who puts the time in to make sure your messages are accurate, clear and sent to the right audiences. Be the one who consistently remembers to close the loop and help others close the loop on their communications. Start by carefully rereading that message before you send it, or by investing a few extra moments thinking about your audience before you start to speak.
2. Good Relationships
Businesses and other organizations don’t run themselves! People do! And working effectively with others requires investing the effort to build good working relationships. Sometimes this means sensitivity to our differences, sometimes it means taking into account the power dynamics of the situation, and almost always, it means we need to be clear about the norms and expectations of the relationship.
- What to do? To become indispensable, make the time to become aware of those around you. Invest in understanding their communication style, their working preferences, their, goals, their roles, their interests, and even their hobbies. Look around for the “group norms” of your team or the norms and expectations of your employee/leader relationships or your peer to peer connections, and if none seem to exist, start up a conversation about it so that none of us are trying to hold others accountable to expectations we haven’t communicated.
3. Organizational Advocacy
Japanese business man, CEO of Rakutan and multi-billionaire Hiroshi Mikitani is quoted as saying “Putting the company first is the best way for an individual to be personally successful.” This doesn’t mean sacrificing your health and wellness and personal interests for the sake of profit, but it does mean viewing each workplace decision, action, and interaction through the lens of what would be best for the organization.
- What to do? To become indispensable, talk freely and openly about your organization’s mission and vision and how the daily work you see going on around you ties to that mission or vision. When faced with choices at work, ask (in your own mind, if not out loud to others) “What would be best for the company in this case?” or “What would most help us live out our mission or achieve our strategic goals?” In day-to-day situations, advocate for sustainable behaviors that are in the best interest of the company as a whole.
There’s a meme going around that points to the futility of work – it seems to imply that we’ve got to look out for ourselves because we’re totally replaceable at work. And to some extent, there’s some truth in replaceability. Likewise, it’s not healthy to work ourselves into the ground. What good can we be for others if we’re working ourselves to death or forgetting to take breaks for physical and mental wellness. A work-life balance is a better, healthier way to go, for both the employee and the company. But truth be told, we can become those folks others like to work with. We can be the one others turn to for insights or ideas or to lead the next initiative. We can be the one our leaders rely on and want to pick – for the team, the next promotion, the cool opportunity.