In Nigeria’s job market, job security is not a matter to be taken lightly. This is especially so if you work in an industry, where a particular role can easily be outsourced reorganized or completely scrapped.
Proving yourself to be the “invaluable asset” you claimed to be on your CV could be your ticket to becoming a pillar in your organization or department. This would not only help in the event of a layoff, it would also help you land your next promotion.
According to Andy Teach, author of From Graduation to Corporation, being indispensable at work means that your supervisors count on you so much that without you, the productivity of your department might suffer, or at least that’s the perception.
Here are some ways to be, or at least seem indispensable at your workplace:
The most important quality of indispensable team members is reliability. There is no point of being intelligent or having all the information if people are not sure they can count on you to follow through and actually deliver on a task.
An important tip to remember here is “under-promise and over-deliver”. This essentially means that it is better to commit to sending a report on Tuesday and end up sending it on Monday, than to promise Monday and send it on Tuesday with a barrage of excuses.
Think about that time when your tailor told you s/he would complete your outfit in time for an occasion, but called you that morning with stories that touch, and one week after, still has not completed the job. If the tailor continues like that, you are likely to get fed up and replace him/her.
This is exactly how you come across to your colleagues when you do not deliver as agreed. Like a Nigerian tailor.
Share information with your team
Resist the temptation to be stingy with what you know; some people feel that they increase their worth in the workplace if they are the one with all the information. Well, to be honest, it really depends on how you play it.
To be the person that everyone calls on when there is a question, people need to know you actually have the answers to those questions. They can only know this if you share tidbits of information with them from time to time.
Share the load without looking for credit
Every now and then, help a colleague ease their workload in whatever way you can. This could be by showing them where to find information, helping them review a document and offer a fresh perspective, or even splitting some of the work with them.
Do this without taking credit for it, and you will create a network of colleagues who will be loyal to you, and also have your back.
However, be careful and quickly recognize those might use this to take advantage of you.
It is tempting to bond with your colleagues over how horrible your organization or boss is. In fact, research shows that this sort of chitchat in the office makes employees feel more connected to one another. Misery loves company, so to speak.
However, there is a level of respect that comes with being the person who chooses to see things in a positive light. This does not mean that you ignore or deny the reality of the inadequacies of your organization, but simply choose to stay positive and encourage others to do the same.
This means no whining or complaining. Apart from the respect you will earn from your colleagues, it also helps you to stay focused on the thing you actually have control over – your work output.
Give and receive constructive feedback well
One of the qualities of emotionally mature people is their ability to take feedback properly. Resist the urge to see feedback as a personal attack. Even when it is, you can still choose to be gracious in your reaction. There is something to learn from every situation.
Also, if you are in a position of authority, form the habit of giving feedback in a constructive manner. A good test of whether your feedback is constructive is if you would like to accept feedback in the manner you have given it.
By doing this, you become the person that junior colleagues can go to with their questions knowing that they won’t be belittled. This ability to mentor and guide will be noticed by your own superiors and could help you rise quickly within your organization.
Know your boss, inside out
Your job in an organization can usually be summed up as being a support to your superiors. So if you work as a junior lawyer or accountant, your job is to help your bosses achieve the client’s goal; if you work as a sales associate your job is to assist your bosses by doing your part to meet the target that has been set for the department or company, etc.
Think of your superiors as your first client, especially if you work in a professional setting where interface with actual clients is limited compared to those that work in retail for instance.
The first step to doing this successfully is to know your boss and use the information you know. No, this isn’t sucking up, but for example, if you know your boss is usually not fully awake till after 11am, it is in no one’s interest to go to him with a 100-page report at 9 am.
Also, if your boss likes daily update emails, then send those. If s/he prefers a weekly physical catch up meeting, then do that. If you convey information in the way your boss prefers it, s/he is more likely to recollect it, and in turn remember how hard you are working when those promotions come round. A good way to figure out how your boss likes to communicate is to watch how s/he communicates with you. S/he’s probably doing it the way s/he likes best,”
Go to your boss with solutions
No one likes someone who is merely a bearer of bad news. Be proactive by looking for possible solutions to issues. You are a more valuable member of a team if you can not only identify a problem, but also two or three possible solutions to the problem.
Avoid generally inappropriate behavior
This means no gossiping, fighting, drama, harassment (sexual or other), etc. Even things such as a clean appearance and good hygiene can go a long way in establishing yourself as force to be reckoned with within your organization.
Keep your nose in your work and do the job you were paid to do, to the very best of your ability.
Individual circumstances and workplace dynamics differ, but even if these tips don’t guarantee job security in your current role, you would have built values and ethics that will remain with you for life.
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