We’ve all met that one person in our office that is considered completely and utterly indispensable. They’re crazy hard workers and everyone knows that they can depend on them to get things done with speed, precision, and efficiency. We all want to be that indispensable person on our team. So how did those people who are already considered indispensable get to where they are today?
There are a few things that every indispensable team member does that make them stand out to their peers. Here are the things you should focus on if you want to emulate them. And if you do these things right, you might just get that indispensable tag applied to yourself.
Look at the talents and skillsets of the people your office considers indispensable. You’ll likely to find that they seem to be excellent at any task they are given, regardless of what skills are needed to accomplish them. This image is accurate in some ways and misleading in others.
Indispensable employees are well-rounded. Their education goes far beyond the specific requirements of their job description, but never so far as to be truly excellent at every single skill needed in the workforce. Instead, they combine their wide-but-not-deep knowledge with a good bit of Google-fu and a whole lot of adaptability.
To be indispensable, you need to be adaptable. To be adaptable, you need to be well-rounded. And to be well-rounded, you need to have a drive and enthusiasm to learn. The answer “I don’t know” should never be enough for you. “I don’t know, but I will find out” is the way to go.
Be an expert in a niche
Another part of being indispensable, beyond being well-rounded, is being an expert in a specific niche. While you do need to be competent at pretty much every aspect of your field, to stand out, you also need to be a go-to expert on one or two specific, niche skills.
Take a look at your fellow teammates. Find out what they’re truly great at. Find out what makes you stand out. Find a gap in the collective skillset that you can fill with your own expertise and learning. And then work to become known for that expertise. Whenever a project or task calls for that skillset, gladly and enthusiastically take on the work. Produce high quality finished products, and soon enough people will instinctively know to go to you for help in that niche.
There are also certain certifications and formal examinations that will open up a lot of doors for you to be considered a niche expert. Some functions and projects even limit the specific type of person who can work on them based on what certifications they have. The main lesson to understand from this is that your continuing education is the most crucial part of your career advancement.
Be a problem solver
When indispensable employees see a problem, they have a solution. They don’t shy away and expect someone else to put out fires. Instead, they put together a plan of action that engages the whole team to collaborate on fixing any problem. And even if they don’t know the answer to a problem outright, they know that mobilizing the team to work on a solution will come up with the right results.
The next time a problem pops up on your team, take the lead to put together a solution. It’s not about showing off. It’s about striving to make a positive contribution for your team every day, regardless of the situation. Don’t ask for or expect accolades. Don’t be frustrated if you aren’t recognized for your work. Instead, just keep solving problems for your team.
You’ll become known as a go-to person for whenever someone needs help. And that’s a great thing to be known for.
Do these things for yourself
When asked why they do what they do every day, indispensable employees often answer that it’s all for their own happiness. They’re ambitious for their own satisfaction. They learn more each day to satisfy their own curiosity. They expand their skillset because they want to, not because they’ve been directed to do so. And the biggest motivation they derive is from the ability to produce results for their team as a byproduct of their internal drive for learning and growth.
A person won’t be considered indispensable if they’re also considered selfish, arrogant, or egotistical. Those attitudes aren’t compatible with each other. Strive to find your personal drive and motivation for why want to excel at work. Find your own reasons for learning new skills and expanding your horizons. Don’t do it to be noticed. Do it to be satisfied with yourself and your job. Your recognition as the MVP will come as a result, with no added effort on your part.