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How to Make Yourself Indispensable at Work

February 15, 2021

How to Make Yourself Indispensable at Work

Job security is a genuine concern for most of us in the workplace. We wish there existed a magic potion or perfect formula that would guarantee our positions never become replaceable but, every position is open to uncertainty and there are no guarantees. That doesn’t mean you can’t posture yourself to become an invaluable asset to your organization.

Propel your personal and professional development into overdrive, heighten your level of emotional intelligence, and delve into our in-depth guide on how to make yourself indispensable at work.

 


 

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Be self-aware 

First and foremost, you should know what you bring to the table. Identify your own strengths and weaknesses so that you understand how you work best, which tools or methods help you function at your full capacity and in what kind of environment you thrive. According to New York Times best-selling author Daniel H. Pink, there may even be certain times of day that you can easily identify to be your most productive. Use these to your advantage and schedule your daily tasks accordingly. Conduct a personality test on yourself like the Enneagram, Myer’s Briggs or DISC assessment. In doing so, you will learn how you best communicate with others on a personal and professional level and, in turn, use that knowledge to discern how others best communicate with you.

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Be thoughtful 

Does this person prefer email or is a quick phone call a better idea? Are they wearing headphones and trying to concentrate? Maybe they are in the middle of a phone conversation and you leave them a post-it note instead of loudly whispering at them get their attention. Take a minute to read the room and be aware of your coworker’s needs or mood. Pose questions instead of demands if you need collaboration like, “Do you have a moment to review our proposal?”, or “I’d like to schedule time to discuss this if you have the bandwidth today.” Remember that everyone’s time is valuable — including your own — and extend the kind of respect you would wish to receive in return.

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Show initiative

With the projects already on your plate, make sure to use all the tools in your belt to get the job done. If you don’t have the necessary resources, go out and look for them! Do your research. Watch a video tutorial. Collaborate with a colleague. Go the extra mile to solve problems on your own before you throw in the towel. If you find your workload getting thin or not challenging enough, talk to your boss. Take the initiative to go out and look for worthwhile projects to fill your time, or simply ask for more. If there’s room for you to grow professionally, make yourself available and let it be known you’re ready to take on more responsibility.

You can also take the initiative to offer help to your coworkers if they look like they’re in the weeds. Establish an open-door policy so people can feel comfortable approaching you for assistance or simply as a friendly sounding board. Having this kind of attitude can be essential to your personal and professional development. 

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Be teachable

Be open to the concept that there’s always room for improvement. Even if you feel like there isn’t, there is great benefit in listening to another’s perspective that is different from your own. Seek feedback from your peers and — here’s the kicker — choose not to be offended. Find the value in their feedback and if there isn’t any, chuck it, don’t take it personally, and move on. Use the results of your personality test to identify areas in need of personal and professional development. If there is a certain skill you can hone, talk to an expert, read relevant literature, take an online course or seek certification in that area. An easy way to set yourself apart and make yourself indispensable at work is to develop a new skill or hone an existing one so that you can become the go-to person for a specific need.

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Be flexible and adaptable

Sometimes you need to step up to the plate and work late hours, take over an absent person’s workload or wear several hats. Know your limits but also know when to dive in and take on something that’s outside of your wheelhouse. Be a team player and gracefully accept any unexpected challenges that are thrown your way. If drastic change occurs in your office like a shift in management or new program implementation, don’t get flustered. Show your adaptability by tackling the changes with dauntless aplomb and ask how you can help facilitate the transition. 

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Be creative 

Even if you’re not an artist, designer, or in a particularly creative-driven field, using your imagination and thinking outside the box is an invaluable way to make yourself indispensable at work. Don’t adhere to the mindset that “this is the way it’s always been done” so that’s the way it always has to be. Be bold enough to bring a little innovation to the table and find a fresh, new way of looking at things. Your unique perspective has measurable worth. Speak up and assert yourself appropriately in that meeting or on that project to present a new inventive process or idea. Your contribution doesn’t have to be groundbreaking but it just may be the thing that propels you or your company forward.

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Be reliable

It is important not to make false promises when taking on a project or owning a specific task. Be honest if you think you’ll need an extra pair of hands. Don’t overcommit and underdeliver. When you set a hard deadline, meet it. Schedule reminders and set up checklists to hold yourself accountable and make sure you follow through. Those who are depending on you need to know that you can and will deliver on what you’ve promised.

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Be positive and approachable 

Let’s be honest, not everyone is always going to get along. Somewhere along the way, it is likely you’ll knock heads with someone within your business for one reason or other. In fact, according to a report conducted by the Meyers Briggs Company, the “average American employee spends 2.1 hours a week dealing with conflict.” To help navigate conflict and mitigate negative social interactions, it’s important to maintain an upbeat, positive attitude at all times. Look for the silver lining, identify the good out of every situation and magnify it. The health benefits of positive thinking range from lowering your levels of stress to actually lengthening your lifespan. A pleasant and approachable demeanor is not only a way to make yourself indispensable at work, it also makes you automatically easier to get along with. 

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Respect other’s space

In the era of COVID culture, our personal space is now more important to us than it ever has been. Know the policies set in place by your business that coincide with CDC guidelines and mandatory requirements and adhere to them. Identify the comfort level of your coworkers when operating in a closed-office environment. Be sensitive to wear a face mask when it is appropriate and ask if you’re not sure when you should wear one. Practice social distancing during meetings and gatherings, and always check with a coworker before you walk over to visit at their desk or inside their office. 

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Learn from your mistakes 

If you’ve royally blundered, take responsibility with confidence and humility, do what you can to remedy the effects of the mistake, and take notes for next time. After you’ve committed a cognitive error, your brain shows a unique pattern of negatively charged electrical activity. The stronger this activity is, which differs in every person, the slower your response is the next time you perform the same task. Take this cue from your brain — set aside extra time and exercise special attention when you tackle a previously failed task. If you want to say genuinely that “you’ll never do that again,” back it up with a game plan. Identify what happened, why it happened, and come up with a new process to avoid a repeat. Review the process with a coworker or supervisor to help hold you accountable. After all is said and done, take the lesson learned. Don’t allow the fear of failure to hold you back and keep moving forward.

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Be honest

This one should be straightforward, but it is oftentimes abused. Transparency in the workplace is imperative to becoming a trusted employee. You’re entitled to your privacy, of course, but when it comes to your work, one should vehemently abstain from the practice of prevarication. Science has confirmed that dishonesty in the workplace causes employees to experience greater stress, increases a company’s turnover rate and negatively affects the bottom line. In short — don’t lie. It’s just that simple. The easiest way to make yourself indispensable at work is by becoming known as a person of their word; trusted, reliable and respected.

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Stay up to date

Subscribe to daily or weekly newsletters such as Hustle or Social Media Today to stay up to date on all the latest trends of your particular field or industry. You can also listen to a personal or professional development podcast (like Admin Hour) or add a few books to your reading list on how to grow professionally. 

 

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Lizzie Oldacre is Blue Summit Supplies’ marketing associate. She’s incredibly positive, has lived on four different continents and knows how to wear the hell out of a silk scarf. If she’s not working or writing this blog post, you can find her horseback riding, singing in Italian or baking brioche cinnamon rolls.


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