Think They Can’t Do Without You?
There are lots of reasons that we think we are indispensable at work. We know more than anyone else. We’ve been there longer. We have a close interdependent relationship with the boss. We’re way better than others who have been there forever. Whatever it is that you think about why you are indispensable, you are wrong. NO ONE is indispensable, not even you. Think about it:
- The boss who thinks you are the best thing since sliced bread could be gone tomorrow. It is unlikely that the new boss will instantly see your worth and if you were a favorite, it is likely that your peers aren’t feeling all that warm and fuzzy about you.
- You might have been the best of the best at one time, but does that still apply?
- How expensive are you? Are there new people (maybe straight out of school with more developed technical skills?) who are as good or almost as good?
- Do your peers sing your praises? Or do they try to scuttle your high horse?
- Have you consistently over delivered incredible results . . . except for the last 6 months-or even worse-the last year?
- Is the organization shifting its priorities away from your area of expertise?
- Do you have a reputation of being negative? Or a diva? Or high maintenance?
They CAN Do Without You!
There are all kinds of reasons that organizations decide to part company with people. SO MANY of those people are shocked because in their own eyes and mind they were indispensable. The water closes over you head as you leave with barely a ripple. People remember you and speak of you occasionally, BUT THEY GO ON WITH THEIR JOB. They figure out workarounds to close the gap left in your absence. And those gaps close pretty quickly.
So Why Am I Telling You This?
I’m telling you this so that you will come out of your delusion and will do what it takes to either prevent this situation or be able to deal with it if it happens. I’m telling you this to get your attention before you find yourself on the outside looking in with total disbelief.
Do you remember what it was like when you started your first job, or your latest new job? Do you remember how focused you were on understanding everything you needed to know. Do you remember how careful you were in understanding what your boss wanted and in trying to deliver it? Do you remember how much you tried to understand the unwritten rules of your organization? If you can re-achieve that heightened level of awareness and attentiveness, then you are much more likely not to take your situation for granted. You are much more likely to escape being marginalized and finding yourself out the door.
What Should You Do?
Every week (yes, EVERY week):
- Remind yourself to treat your boss the way you did in your first week in this job
- Remind yourself that your peers can take you out faster than your boss. How are you helping them? How do they perceive you? What can you do to further their agendas?
- Do something to build your network, both inside and outside the organization. Who at the top of the organization outside your own management chain knows you? Who do you know at other organizations that interest you?
- Keep your skills current. Get certificates. Go to school. Know the latest technology. Stay up to date on what is going on in your industry/field.
- Ask yourself what you’ve done to add value THIS week.
And maybe then you’ll be indispensable:-)