The economy is booming — great! But wait, organizations continue to focus on cutting labor costs. Why? According to the latest Auto Laundry News survey, labor costs at full/flex-service car washes average 41.8 percent of operating costs. This fact clearly creates another problem in the workforce: protecting your job.
How then can you remain indispensable at work? By bringing attention to the value of what you do. How do you do that? By focusing on where the organization is going rather than on the procedural or day-to-day maintenance issues of your position. Begin thinking of how you contribute to the success of the organization. Do you know what the top business issues are within your organization?
Here are five key strategies to employ to ensure you’re indispensable at work:
1. SEE THEIR POINT OF VIEW
Enhance your role as a team player by demonstrating a sincere interest in your company and looking at issues from the employer’s viewpoint. If it is the cost of labor that is forcing car washes to cut back, get together with your boss and figure out ways to merge systems, cut costs, negotiate spending, or merge tasks between departments. In companies where there are several departments duplicating efforts, redundancies can often be eliminated.
2. TALK IN SOUND BITES
Concentrate on improving communication with your employer. Think about how your listener will receive the message. Put yourself in the listener’s shoes and anticipate how he or she might react. Learn to talk in sound bites — quick and fast. Bosses want the summary, not all the details.
3. FIND A MENTOR
To be the most indispensable employee you can be, get a coach. Surround yourself with mentors and coaches from inside and outside your industry. How do you get a coach? Look around your informal and formal networks and figure out whom you would like to emulate. Whose skills and career path do you admire? Then just ask if he or she will mentor you. Most of the time, people are flattered that they have been asked. It does not take much time, perhaps just a 45-minute phone call once every three months. You tell them what is going on, and they give you simple advice to get back on track.
4. RECRUIT BRAND CHAMPIONS
You are a brand! Who supports you? Who are the people that are always spreading the good news about you? These are your brand champions. It is critical that you update your friends, family, colleagues, parents at PTA meetings, and anyone else you know about what you are doing or what you want to do. Why? Because your networks are filled with the power and credibility to spread the word about you.
To begin with, you need to understand the difference between formal networks (professional organizations that you pay dues to, with regulations, meetings and guidelines) and informal networks (people you meet in the lobby of a hotel or on an airplane or through hobbies). Social networks are a hybrid of the two.
Next, you need to communicate to your brand champions about your work, your talents, and changes you are thinking about. If you need a favor, ask, and reciprocate by asking what you can do for them in return. Send out regular alerts through your grapevine and share your success stories. Start a buzz and you will be amazed at what happens.
5. SAFEGUARD YOUR REPUTATION
A brand creates an image of trust and loyalty over time. It takes years to build a name, reputation, and networks — and takes a minute to lose it all. Always protect your name. See what others are saying about you. The key to leadership is listening to criticism and self-correcting. When a mentor gives you criticism about something you are perhaps not thinking about, it takes courage to change. You must earn credibility, not expect it. Be prepared to spend years on earning credibility.
A FINAL THOUGHT
Every workplace has that one employee that everyone goes to for answers to their problems. They know everyone and they know how to get things done. Strive to be that one shining employee by following these steps. Remember, being a key member of a team has the biggest benefit — job security.
Michele Wierzgac, MSEd is a leadership expert, keynote speaker, and author of the forthcoming book, Ass Kicking Women: How They Leverage Their Informal Networks For Success. With her high-energy presentations, Michele conveys sound leadership solutions and promotes audience engagement. She promises her audience that they will leave her solution-driven keynotes and workshops with at least one passionate, life-transforming leadership tool. For more information, visit https://micheleandco.com.