Making yourself indispensable at work

i'm_not_perfect_but-74780In class, we learnt that one of the six principles of persuasion is scarcity. The term might seem more aptly applied in a marketing context through ubiquitous slogans such as “Limited Edition” and “Last Day of Sale”. However, through my research, I have found that when this principle is applied to our daily lives especially in the context of work, the potential effect is tremendous and life-changing.

According to a study conducted by Pwc[1], millennial want greater flexibility , work / life balance and global opportunities at work. These are invaluable insights into how an organisation can attract a millennial to work for them. However, I believe the inverse relationship is more pertinent and applicable to us. We need to be cognizant of how to position ourselves in a way that will attract an organisation to hire us and make ourselves indispensable to the company.

It should be noted that people mistake indispensable for irreplaceable. Everyone can be replaced. However, to be indispensable would mean being so good at your job that your boss and co-workers could not imagine replacing you. [2]

imagesFirstly, it is important to monopolise a particular skill at work. Hence, you need to find a particular task within the organisation that only you would know to execute. This could happen when someone with a unique skill leaves the company or when a new initiative is created that requires a skill the company never had before.

If you currently do not have a unique skill, fret not as it can be acquired through training [3]. For instance, if the company has a social media platform which no one knows how to fully utilise, going for an analytics course in this domain would make you more valuable to the company. Besides that, just by showing the initiative and desire to grow and develop new skills, you demonstrate to your boss that you are a great asset.

Secondly, even if you have a unique skill, there are no guarantees on what will be valued going forwards. Hence, it is important to keep expanding your skills every year. You can master a language that is not required of your position (be it Mandarin or HTML), stay current with technology and trends and continually improve your oral and written communication skills. Through this approach, not only are you expanding your skill sets, but you are also expanding your social network through the relationships you build in the pursuit of attaining those skills.

As you build your skills, it is important to keep your resume up to date and be aware of other opportunities through the network that you build. This is necessary even if you are not leaving your job because you should always keep your options open. In fact, by having an updated resume on platforms such as LinkedIn, you are potentially putting yourself in a position whereby other companies are competing for your skills which makes you more valuable at work and open to promotion.

Thirdly, beyond building new skills or expanding them, you could monopolise an important relationship to make yourself indispensable. You should find relationships that are crucial to the company’s survival and become the contact person for that relationship. As you build the relationship over time, you would be the only person who is a trusted advisor to that company making you essential to the company.

Besides that, you could also find ways to stand out in the organisation. One way would be to be a thought leader. Instead of subscribing to group think, you could apply yourself in a way that provides new and innovative thinking that will benefit your company. Hence, you should not be afraid to put your ideas across. Even if the idea was not accepted, people will value you for your unique insights.

A downside to being indispensable is that you are constantly putting pressure on yourself to live up to high expectations, hence when you encounter failure, it can be quite noticeable. However, it should be noted that it is much better to be seen as indispensable and fail once in a while that not being seen as indispensable at all.

[1] http://www.pwc.com/gx/en/hr-management-services/publications/nextgen-study.jhtml

[2] http://www.forbes.com/sites/jacquelynsmith/2013/09/05/17-ways-to-be-indispensable-at-work/

[3] http://www.linkedin.com/today/post/article/20130305182412-59549-how-to-make-yourself-indispensable

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