Monday, November 24, 2008


There's too much bad news in the business section these days. Stocks are down. Companies are cutting back. People are being let go. Don't take chances with your career—take action to make yourself indispensable!
Companies never want to lose their most valuable employees, and often, managers will go to great lengths to protect their top performers. What follows are a few inside tips from senior managers about what makes an indispensable employee.

More than anything else, managers want employees who get the job done—people who finish projects on time, on budget, and exceed expectations. The following are characteristics of top performers:
• They consistently deliver measurable results.
• They don't waste other people's time.
• They understand the company's goals.
• They know their role and the importance of doing their job well.
• They know how to prioritize and stay focused.
• They put the customer first.
• They do whatever it takes to get the job done.

While results count most, having the right attitude is extremely important. What's the right attitude? Here are traits managers look for:
• People who focus on results.
• Problem solvers who seek solutions.
• Champions who take initiative.
• People who accept responsibility and don't blame others or circumstances.
• Positive people who don't complain.
• People who aren't afraid to take risks.
• Those who do whatever it takes to get the job done (we did repeat this one!).

Indispensable employees almost always fall into one of two categories: leaders and team players. Leaders are invaluable when it comes to providing direction and motivation. But great team players are equally valuable when it comes to getting things done. Here's what makes someone an ideal team member:
• Willingness to be honest – they don't withhold information.
• Assertiveness – they challenge others without being confrontational.
• Contributors – they share ideas and opinions.
• Exceptional communicators – they can write, speak, and listen skillfully.
• Multi-talented – they have a variety of useful skills and expertise.
• Flexibility – they are open to new ideas and willing to make changes.
• Willing to lend a hand – they pick up the ball when a team member needs help.
• Creativity – they actively look for new ways to get things done.

Every business wants to improve its results consistently, and they also want employees who continually improve themselves. It's a fast-paced world—skills and knowledge become outdated all too quickly. Indispensable employees are always looking to learn new skills and expand their expertise. Want to improve yourself? Here's what you can do:
• Update your technical skills.
• Take on new projects that will challenge you.
• Seek additional responsibility by taking on projects you can manage.
• Look for opportunities to get cross-trained.
• Join professional organizations.
• Read trade journals to stay up to date on your industry.
• Study your competitors' websites to see what they're doing.
• Improve soft skills, including management, leadership, and communication.

Darwin had it right. Those who are the most fit are those who survive. In today's corporate world, nothing can eliminate your risk of being caught in a downsizing effort. But by taking the steps to make yourself indispensable, you can greatly increase your job security—and make yourself even more marketable!

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