Everyone likes to think that they are irreplaceable at work. After all, if your boss can’t possibly get by without you, that means job security – and plenty of opportunities for promotions and more money.
The truth is, very few people are actually truly irreplaceable. That doesn’t mean, though that you can’t put effort into becoming indispensable to your boss.
Not only does putting in the effort to become a better employee raise your status in your boss’ eyes, it can also make you more productive and happier at work. Best of all? Becoming indispensable doesn’t mean you have to kiss up to your boss and take on a whole bunch of extra work. For most people, it just means making a few tweaks to what they are already doing.
1. Become More Knowledgeable
Obviously, if you are lacking skills you need to do your job, it’s very unlikely that you will be indispensable, so if you’re lacking in any area, make it a priority to improve in those areas. However, even if you’re already good at what you do, it’s always worthwhile to become more knowledgeable and build new skills that can bring value to your employer.
Not only will you do your job better, but taking the initiative to expand your skills base shows your boss that you are serious about your career and continuous improvement. Some of the best MBA programs are available online and depending on what you study, your employer may even be willing to provide some financial support for taking your education further.
2. Become a Better Team Player
Working on a team can be challenging, but employers value those employees who can rise above the challenges and work effectively together. Think about your behavior and attitude when you’re part of a team. Are you positive, encouraging, and dependable? Or do you tend to fade into the background – or worse, bring the team down by missing deadlines, criticizing team members, and basically making life difficult?
Employers value team players, so work on your own team skills, and learn how to think outwardly, instead of focusing on yourself. This means focusing on how your words and actions affect others and their ability to do their jobs, understanding others’ needs and challenges, and holding yourself accountable for your role on the team.
If you aren’t sure where to start, talk with your boss and co-workers and ask for constructive feedback. Perhaps you could work on listening, or staying in communication about your progress? Be open to criticism, and set goals to improve.
3. Beat Your Deadlines
Do you consistently find yourself working extra hours just to meet deadlines – or miss them altogether by days or weeks? Do you typically come in just under the wire? While meeting deadlines is important, the most successful employees actually beat their deadlines, completing projects and assignments ahead of time whenever possible.
When planning your work, add in a cushion of time that will allow you to work in advance, and get things done ahead of time. Not only will you impress your boss when she asks for a progress report a few days before the deadline, but you’ll save yourself stress.
4. Know Your Boss’ Goals
The most successful businesses are goal-oriented, and your boss is responsible for meeting specific benchmarks. While you might be tempted to focus on meeting your own goals, when you make your boss look good, you build your own standing in the company as well.
Talk with your boss to uncover his priorities and goals, and determine how you can help with that effort. In most cases, you will find that you can align your goals with your boss’ – and when everyone succeeds, you become indispensable.
5. Stay One Step Ahead
Surprises are great on birthdays and holidays. Surprises at work tend to be far less pleasant, and have serious consequences for your standing with the boss. One way to be indispensable is to stay one step ahead of your boss.
Stay on top of everything related to your role, and keep your boss in the loop whenever something is happening that could potentially blindside them. For example, if you know that an unhappy customer is meeting with competitors or is about to complain to upper management, give your boss a heads up.
Being on top of smaller things, like calling for a repair on malfunctioning equipment before telling your boss about it, can put you in a good position.
As you set your goals for the coming year, you will most likely be thinking about your career and how you can improve at work. By focusing on making yourself indispensable, you will not only catch your boss’ notice, but you’ll also develop skills that will make you an all-around better – and more marketable – employee in the long term.