In my work, I am often asked the number one skill or quality that makes someone successful at work. Is it intelligence or hard work or making the right political alliances? Not even close. The number one way to ensure a fantastically successful and rewarding career is to become indispensable to your boss.
When you measure the value that you bring to your work every day, how do you stack up? Do you bring more value to your company than they pay you in compensation? In the long term, the level of your success depends on the value that you create for others. In your work life, this boils down to the value you bring to your boss and the company as a whole. In short, are you indispensable?
The good news is that each of us can increase the value we create and become indispensable. If you are willing to step outside your comfort zone and try something new, you can quickly become a super star at work. Here is the two-step process to becoming indispensable:
Step 1: Find out what is most important to your boss. When I speak about this topic I often ask people to share what they think are their boss’s top three priorities. Many people don’t know and some will recite company goals and values or they say blanket statements like “top priority for my boss in that the whole team work safely”. Some people take guesses, but very few people know with certainty what priorities are most important to their boss. The truth may surprise you. When I speak to managers about their top priorities I hear the usual stuff about delivering the plan, meeting customers’ needs, being part of the corporate team, etc… But when we get really truthful with each other I also hear priorities such as get promoted, not look bad to senior management, get a higher raise than usual, do better than the other department or resolve some difficult issue, etc… So how do you find out what is important to your boss? It is easy – just ask. Sit down with your boss and ask what their biggest priorities are over the next 60 or 90 days and what you can do to help. Your boss may be surprised at first and question why you are asking, but it you do it on a regular basis and follow up with step #2 below, then they will quickly see you as indispensable.
Step 2: Over deliver on what your boss says they need. Once you have a conversation about the true priorities that your boss has then go out and over deliver. Don’t just deliver the value you say you will, deliver more than you say. If your boss asks you to take on an extra project, do two. If they ask you to come in early for a short period to help the department get caught up, then come in early and stay late. If they ask you to deliver the sales plan in 90 days, deliver it in 75. Focus in on the priority your boss shares with you and don’t quit until you have completed what you promised. In doing this you will create value in the area most important to your boss. Do this with each boss you have and you will be promoted often.
When we focus on creating value and not on collecting a paycheck, it is amazing the things we can accomplish. If you have the courage to find out what your boss wants most and then deliver it better than expected, then your career success is unlimited. Please give it a try and let me know how it works out.