One of the best ways to remain employed and climb the professional ladder is to become an indispensable employee. Becoming the go-to problem solver or the person who can be relied on to execute any task successfully is a sure-fire way to get your boss to notice you and fight hard to keep you happy. After all, don’t we all want to impress our managers and be invaluable to an organization?
However, there’s a distinct difference between being a dumping ground for errant tasks and being a key team player who is called on for prime assignments. We spoke to diversity and inclusion expert and author of Mastering the Game, Sharon Jones, to find out what are the primary ways to become essential to your boss.
Tip 1: Build on what you are told.
When a manager gives instructions, a good employee will closely follow the directions and do what she is told. However, a great employee will not only follow the directions that she is given but will also add value by pushing the project along anticipating the manager’s next step. Your managers are often busy managing multiple aspects of a project. Therefore, you can’t expect your managers to do their jobs and also yours. They won’t have time to spell out every single aspect of your project assignment. During check-in meetings, let your manager know what you both had agreed upon and the extra effort you put in to advance your aspect of the project. When you demonstrate competence, your manager will likely give you more independence to run with projects, and you will become a little more indispensable.
Tip 2: Have a “Can-Do” attitude.
If you want to become indispensable to your manager, then one of the best ways to distinguish yourself from your peers is to be a “can-do” person as opposed to someone who often says no. Managers look for professionals who not only produce exceptional results but also have a “can-do” attitude. The best way to strengthen your bond with your manager is to step up when he or she makes a request. If you can become a reliable “go-to” person, your relationship with your manager will strengthen. Realistically, you will not be able to complete every request exactly as it is outlined. Demonstrate your commitment to your manager first by saying yes, then bring up an alternative plan of execution based on your time and resource constraints. If you find a way to reliably deliver results, especially in difficult situations, your manager will begin to view you as a “go-to” person.
Tip 3: Lighten your manager’s workload.
Volunteer to take project’s off of your manager’s plate. During check-in meetings, ask about projects coming down the pipeline. If you hear about a project that fits your skill set, offer to get the ball rolling. To become truly indispensable, identify ways in which your skillset complements your manager’s skill set. If your manager hates doing a particular task and you are willing to take it on, she will want to keep you around for as long as possible. One note of caution: while it is ok to occasionally volunteer for administrative work to make your manager’s life easier, you should prioritize going after projects that demonstrate and grow your skill set.
Tip 4: Keep your manager updated on a timely basis and let him/her know of any bumps in the road.
Managers never like to be surprised. So, the best way to be indispensable to your manager is to make sure you routinely keep him/her updated on your work. You can do that by establishing formal check-ins or informally do so by dropping by. You can also send email updates. Your office culture will dictate the appropriate manner for the update, but frequency is important. Also, be sure to give your manager a “heads up” if there is a problem you have encountered so that it can be addressed at an early stage. Remember, no one likes to be surprised at work.