11 Things That Will Show Your True Value at the Office
There’s an old joke among us life-long work drones that the only thing more dangerous at work than being completely dispensable to your boss is becoming completely INDISPENSABLE to your boss. Once you become indispensable, it’s easy to suffer from career paralysis because you get pigeonholed into your current situation. It becomes difficult to move up or out of your current position. To escape this trap, but still maintain job security, you must show your true value to the organization.
Here are 11 ways to increase your value to the organization:
Make the company money
Let’s be blunt, if you make your company money and aren’t the most insufferable person on the planet, you’ll be seen as a valuable member of the organization. The company measures its ROI on you, so you should measure the ROI on yourself as well. Focus on the activities that use your time, skills, and resources most effectively to connect back to the bottom line.
Spend your time wisely and don’t waste it
Your most valuable commodity is your time; spend it wisely. There are dozens of ways to waste time at the office at any moment and it takes work to avoid them. Other ways to waste time often occurs in daily work or special projects. For instance, don’t spend twenty hours putting together a presentation when you can deliver the same results with less prep time. Your audience values the message, not a bunch of fluff and pretty artwork.
In many cases, you have to speak for your work because most people in the office are too busy to pay attention for more than a minute or two. Make sure that managers understand the effort you put into your job and the results you produce. A bit of modest bragging will not only help you come promotion time, but it will also help discredit any attacks levied against you. Provide the right amount of information about yourself, but don’t beat your accomplishments to death. Too many trips to the boss’s office may work against you.
Learn more about your company and your industry
Sure, you did some background work on the company when you were interviewing for a job, but after you got the job, was that the end of your research? For too many employees, the answer is yes. They get “too busy” to dig into the company more. They don’t understand the basic operation of their companies. To stand out, familiarize yourself with the organizational chart and reporting structures. Study and understand the financials. Learn as much as you can along the way, even though what you’re learning may not seem relevant at the time.
Be confident … be a problem-solver
Very few people in management don’t appreciate an employee who looks at current processes and tries to improve upon them. As long as they present their ideas at an appropriate time and place. Just remember to do your research and come up with workable solutions. (“Boss, this will only cost $30 million to fix” won’t go over well unless you’re working for a Fortune 5 company. That’s Fortune 5, not 500!) When you pitch your ideas to management, be prepared to defend your views—and to receive criticism. Your boss, and others in management, will challenge you simply to test your level of enthusiasm for the idea and its viability. There are many variables to consider, and management wants to know you’ve thought about them all. If you support your ideas with solid research and show some passion, management will be more likely to embrace your concept.
Keep a paper trail
In today’s world, there is no reason not to save all but the most insignificant emails and correspondence that comes across your desk. If you have ever received an email from someone asking you to confirm something, that person is likely covering himself. This is not a bad thing, and in many cases can clear up any confusion later. If you’re the person who always has a copy of “that email” that shows you answered the contractor’s question, or sent the customer a reply about their complaint, or any of a thousand other work situations that come up, you will be a superstar worth your weight in gold.
You can’t do everything for everyone all the time. There will be times you just have to tell people “No, I don’t have time to do that for you right now” when your plate is full or projects cover your desk. It doesn’t make you a bad person, but it can make you a better employee if you’re not late with work.
Understand what you want out of your career and go for it
Some people are hard-wired to be managers. Others don’t want the responsibility and prefer the nine-to-five life that lets them go home every night and have dinner with the family. Both mind-sets are valid and both are critical to the success of every organization. The important thing is that you do your job to the best of your ability and that you are happy doing it.
Mouth shut … ears open
Seek out advice or answers for things you don’t know. Most people enjoy sharing knowledge if you approach them the right way. Make an appointment and let the person know what questions you have. If you’re thinking about going high in your company, search for a mentor. A mentor can warn you about things you may never have considered and keep you from being blindsided by unforeseen events or costs. As difficult as it may be, admit to yourself that you don’t know everything.
Consciously work on your communication skills
Communicating with people is an opportunity not only to transfer information but also to build relationships with them. People today seem to be increasingly dependent on their phones or tablets to communicate—and it is NOT just Millennials or Gen-Z. Older generations are falling into the trap as well. Effective employees must be able to interact with people and solve problems. If you can’t interact with people directly, you have no value. On the other hand, if you have terrific interpersonal skills, you’ll almost certainly stand out.
Find your balance
It’s good to be committed to the company, and corporate accomplishments are rewarding; but when all is said and done, a lifetime goes by quickly. Try not to take your job home with you. I am a firm believer that you get what you give. If you are happy, those around you will be happy as well.