During credit-crunch times, you don't want to just be an anonymous face in the crowd at work. Whether you're desperate to avoid a pink slip, or whether you're chasing after a promotion, you need to make sure that you're indispensable to your manager. Here are five different ways to get started:
- Do Your Job - And Do It Well
It might seem so obvious that it's not worth saying - but it's crucial to actually do your job, and to make sure you're performing to a high standard. You're not going to become indispensable to your company if you coast through each workday, Twittering about how bored you are, and updating your Facebook profile. (Watch your use of social media sites in general: they could cost you your job.)
If you're doing your best but you know your performance is under-par:
- Ask for help from a more knowledgeable colleague
- Ask your manager about training opportunities
- Let your manager or team leader know if you're struggling with the workload
- Consider spending some of your own time improving your skills (eg. learn a new software package, or learn about good business writing)
- Mind Your Manners
Again, this is basic - but it's surprising how many people can ignore it. When at work, make an effort to be courteous and polite to everyone. That means your boss, obviously, but also the receptionist and the cleaners: colleagues and managers will notice how you treat people.
Manners and etiquette do vary from culture to culture, so if you're working in a place very different from that where you grew up, don't assume that what mom taught you necessarily still applies!
Some particular impolite behaviours which might see you frowned at include:
...not saying hello or good morning, not offering office guests a beverage, speaking loudly across the room, using swear words and taking calls on mobile phones. - Miral Fahmy, Mind Your Workplace Manners - It Pays, Reuters
- Be Enthusiastic (Even When You Have to Fake It)
You need to go a step beyond being merely polite, if you want to really stand out at work. Adopt a positive, even enthusiastic, attitude towards your job and the company. This can be especially crucial if you work for a small company, where colleagues and managers feel a personal investment in the business' success.
Let's face it, if you had to make decisions about who to keep around, would you pick the colleague who's always complaining about boredom, red tape and problems? Or would you want the person who generally has a smile on their face, and who stays positive even in difficult situations?
Focus on the things you enjoy about your job. Think about the positive impact your company has on clients or customers. Don't be afraid to praise or encourage colleagues.
- Be Proud of Your Work
In almost every job, you'll have some work that's boring, tedious or pretty much invisible to anyone but you. Don't skimp on this - bring the best you can to every task. You'll find that:
- Doing your best makes you feel more positive about yourself and your work
- Even small tasks may be crucial parts of the bigger picture, sometimes in ways you don't realise
- You may discover ways to work more efficiently, or to improve the effectiveness of standard company procedures - something sure to endear you to your boss!
If you can become the sort of person who pays attention to detail, does a good job and is self-motivated, you'll have some hugely valuable personal qualities that a lot of employers are keen to foster and encourage.
- Say Yes to Opportunities
Whenever you get the opportunity to try something new at work, say Yes. It might be a daunting prospect (the first time I delievered a presentation to clients, my knees were shaking!) - but a willingness to take on new tasks and roles sends a positive message to your manager about your commitment and enthusiasm.
It's also a great way for you to grow in confidence and in skills, and to avoid boredom. If you get too cozy in your daily routine at work, you'll find yourself stagnating: if you're willing to help out on bigger projects (without a pay rise), that promotion might just get a little closer.
Are you indispensable ... or are you invisible? How do you make sure that you're boosting your performance and profile in the workplace, every day?