How To Become An Irreplaceable Employee, Part 2
The holidays are upon us, and there’s no better time to start planning goals and resolutions for the new year. For many of us, being better in the workplace will be near the top of that list.
Now that you’ve vowed to not commit any of the “don’ts” of being an irreplaceable employee, it’s time to focus on the “do’s”. Here are some values to commit to in 2018:
1. Show an Ability to Flex
I decided to start stretching before runs a few years ago. I quickly found out that I was even less flexible than I thought. One day, as I was in a full sweat trying to touch my toes, my toddler daughter came into the room, stretched herself into a pretzel, laughed, and walked out. In that moment it hit me: every day I’m alive, I get less flexible. The same is true for your company: the older it gets, the longer you’re in your position, the more constancy there is in the workplace- things increasingly calcify.
Every day you show flexibility in the office, you show that you’re irreplaceable. One of our core company values is “ever-increasing agility” because it matters that much to us. Calcification equals less innovation, and in today’s climate, that means getting left behind. By being agile in the workplace, you will prove yourself to be irreplaceable.
2. Solve Problems Before Your Boss Knows They Exist
I wish anticipation was something I could coach. When I see people come up with a solution before I know there’s a problem, I know they’re irreplaceable. I’ve made hires largely based on a candidate’s ability to do this well. Several years ago, I was in the process of hiring a full-time assistant with an interim sitting in during the process. Shortly before boarding a flight one week, I received an important email- in Spanish. I knew my interim assistant knew Spanish, so I delegated it to her. On the flight, I realized the language was actually Portuguese, not Spanish. When I landed, I called the office in a panic only to find my assistant had already taken care of it. She had translated his message, realized it was in Portuguese, made the adjustments, and sent him what he was looking for. The next words I said to her were, “why don’t we make this job permanent?”
It wasn’t just that she fixed a problem. She saw a need that I didn’t catch and did something about it without me having to tell her to. Most employees can fix problems that you bring to their attention. The irreplaceable employees are those that will spot and fix problems on their own.
3. Automate Systems
Irreplaceable employees build things so well they work themselves out of a job. Often there’s a temptation to become lazy in creating new systems and improving old ones, simply because technology has become so useful and effective in the corporate workspace. I would argue that there is still room for innovation and creativity in making systems more efficient.
Business/corporate coach Rasheed Ogunlaru put it this way: “All the tools, techniques, and technology in the world are nothing without the head, heart, and hands to use them wisely, kindly and mindfully.” Be strategic in how you build. Every good leader knows that strategy, creative thinking, and mission are crucial to an organization’s long-term health. If you display those traits in how you steward the teams and systems you oversee, your company will see you as a builder they can’t afford to lose.
I touched on this a little bit in my last post, which you can read here. The world gets messier every day. The longer a company is around, the more complex it gets. Make things better. Make things easier. It’s that simple.
As the workforce heads into a season of endings and new beginnings, it’s a great time for employees to change the way they think and work. By being aware of what does and doesn’t make up an irreplaceable employee, you’re setting yourself up for big success in the coming year.