How Indispensable Employees Operate
Whether you are an employee or employer, the question of how one becomes of greater value to a company OR how one can get an employee to add more value is critical to the longevity of tenure.
I’ve had the privilege over the last 10 years to be exposed to a broad spectrum of employees within our client base, some being incredibly high value to their companies and others who perfected the art of looking busy, promoting to be busy but in reality, just stealing oxygen.
In considering the contrast between those who become indispensable to their organisations versus those who should have been dispensed of a long time ago, I have found the following to be true.
Indispensable people get Comfortable being Uncomfortable
As a point of departure, game-changers within any business are almost afraid of stagnation. They are driven by a need to evolve and they understand that in order to do so, they need to operate consistently outside of their comfort zone.
Indispensable people rapidly accumulate Competencies.
One of the most prevalent traits I have noticed in the game-changers out there is the inclination and ability to rapidly accumulate competencies that are relevant to the business. As a natural consequence, this makes the individual more valuable to the respective business operation.
Indispensable people ask more Questions.
The fundamental disposition of someone who seeks to better than the average is a personality-driven firstly by accumulating knowledge and secondly, questioning whether the current application of said knowledge is the best way forward. In contrast, those who coast from week to week are quite happy to click the autopilot button and not have to apply too much unnecessary thinking to the problem. They apply the status quo because it is the path of least resistance.
Indispensable people understand the nuances in People.
A significant piece of the value equation is knowing how to pivot an approach depending on who one is engaging with. This is true both internally within the organisation as well as with different types of clients. True value-adders build authentic relationships with both because they understand the finer differences in how different people like to be engaged but as importantly, how to get the most out of different individuals as well.
Indispensable people don’t wait for their managers to provide the Answers.
It is far easier to defer responsibility to a more senior figure in the business than it is to interpret the problem oneself and have the courage to execute without making it someone else’s problem. Value-adders take initiative and are resourceful with what they have. They don’t hang around the “water-cooler” complaining how tired they always are or that they don’t have this or that. In other words, value-adders take control of their path whereas the incompetent play the victim and blame the circumstances.
Indispensable people tend to understand the business from an Owners/CEO Perspective.
When one understands what the fundamentals are required to run a successful business, these individuals realise that in order to be of true value, they have to do what is necessary to create more return customers. Any astute business owner or CEO will tell you that it is much more cost-effective to retain a client than entice a new one. Employees who understand this concept do whatever is in their power to be as closely linked to the customer’s decision to return. It may be taking the time to visit the client face to face instead of calling or supporting that client in a private capacity – whatever is necessary to build that relationship.
Indispensable people make it impossible for their seniors to ignore their Impact.
This is not to say that value-adders advertise every positive outcome to their seniors in an arrogant manner. Instead, they let their clients do the talking. Nobody will push your career growth in the right direction faster than the clients of your employer. When they start to consistently sing your praises to your seniors, it is only a matter of time before positive outcomes materialise. If one is making true impact on these people, they will most often take it upon themselves to communicate their appreciation as opposed to a customer satisfaction survey or the like.
Indispensable people prioritise impact rather than time at a Company.
An associate told me a story recently of a candidate being interviewed for a position in a company. The mindset of the candidate in question was that they were right for the job because of the time they had been in the industry. "I've been in this industry for 15 years now." The response from the interviewer was, "Tell me what you achieved for your respective companies in those 15 years?" Time alone makes nobody indispensable. It is the tangible impact one makes to the business that allows the organisation to be of more value as a result that makes one indispensable.
Indispensable people buy into a greater Purpose.
The real value-adders within an organisation find ways to internally motivate themselves. The most sustainable way to do so is being driven by purpose. For example, a front-of-house staff member in a hotel has the job of welcoming guests at various stages of the experience. Their purpose, however, is to put guests in a better frame of mind than what they found them in. Jobs are transactional, our purpose can be transformational.