Whether it is due to stiff competition, wanting a raise, aiming for a promotion or simply wanting to be of value to the team, everyone wants to be indispensable. It means that you are important, always needed and always valued.
When looking back to previous work experiences or even school/college projects, there will usually be a few individuals that stand out. These people stood out because of how important they were for the company or the end project.
Sometimes, projects may never have finished without them, they were indispensable.
No one wants to be replaceable, but what are you supposed to do?
Fortunately, there are a few things you could do to improve your value to your current and future teams.
Here is our 5-step guide to making yourself indispensable.
The Need for Cross Training
Working on your weaknesses is a common and straight-forward way of improving yourself and the value you give to your work. This is always the go-to whenever someone feels the need to improve themselves.
While improving your weaknesses does make you a more reliable person, it won’t help you become indispensable.
Focusing on improving a weakness helps you become more balanced and reliable. It means that you won’t let people down as much, but this still keeps you average or simply above average.
To become irreplaceable to your workplace, you will need to work on your strengths. Unfortunately, working on your strengths isn’t as straight forward as it is with weaknesses. This is where cross training begins.
Cross training is adding complementary skills or behaviors that allows your strengths to shine.
If you are great at content strategy, it means nothing if you are terrible at pitching it to clients. If you want to run a longer marathon, you have to also do weight training with stretches. Knowing what you’re great at, working on it, and developing a complementary skill will take you over average.
You will have to learn to develop yourself in this nonlinear method to maximize your indispensableness.
1. Identify your strengths
To identify your own strengths requires a level of self-awareness. Otherwise, an office-wide survey might be more up your alley. An office-wide survey is much better at revealing your strengths, especially if you are aiming for or are in a leadership position.
When it comes to leadership effectiveness, it all depends on how people view you and your strengths. This makes a self-chosen strength not the best way to improve your leadership skills and your value to the team.
Studies show that people with exceptional skill in one or two fields are more likely to be promoted than a balanced worker. Balanced workers are still the most popular hires, but once hired, they’ll have to work to improve at least one skill to above average to really move up.
It’s easy to choose between developing a weakness or strength, but it’s a bit harder how to decide which strength to work on. Go through your list of strengths and ask these questions suggested by Harvard Business Review.
- Do I look for ways to enhance this skill?
- Do I look for new ways to use it?
- Am I energized, not exhausted, when I use it?
- Do I pursue projects in which I can apply this strength?
- Can I imagine devoting time to improving it?
- Would I enjoy getting better at this skill?
2. Find and develop your complementary skills/behavior
After you’ve chosen a strength to work on, now it’s time to build on it through a complementary skill or behavior. A complementary skill or behavior will help enhance your strength and professional value.
These are usually people/communications oriented or related to thinking about the future.
Some examples are
- Connecting better with others emotionally
- Communicating better with crowds and large meetings
- Motivating others and bringing positivity to office
- Helping develop others
- Collaborating and fostering teamwork
- Taking initiative
- Nurturing innovation
- Long term vision and mission tracking
3. Help others without expecting return
The expectation of someone helping you simply because you helped them quickly becomes an excuse not to help anyone. And that is a shame.
The way we consume information comes from not expecting ROI (returns on investment) all the time. Mentors hold a trainee’s hand to help them build their future, not their own. Educational books and online articles are published simply because someone wanted to spread the things they learned.
Not expecting others to return your kindness means you are willing to help others and the company succeed, even if you don’t get credit. This is a trait that most CEOs and managers love to see.
People who help raise others are essential to any company. You are creating value for your fellow coworker and yourself.
4. Empower others and bring in positivity
Just like in the previous entry, it’s important to empower others around you. Now, some people believe that this means you are cultivating stronger competition against you, it’s not.
Empowering others means you are willing to be a mentor, a friend and a solution. It adds superior value to you and your company. Indispensable team members are those that help struggling coworkers find their voice, convey their feelings and ideas, and mediate discussions.
They are also the people who bring light into the office every day.
Being enthusiastic and energetic about new projects can be infectious, and it’s one infection that people love to get. Having one person happy and excited is enough for others to start embracing challenges in the workplace with a smile.
This is another form of empowerment.
5. Work hard and get it done
One of the most important steps to being irreplaceable is to outwork others.
Obvious right? Yet, it is not said enough how team members who take initiative, who take ownership of tasks and gets it done are the best people you could have in any team.
These are the people that are not asked to come early or stay late, they are the people that simply do.
These are the people that become truly indispensable.