How to be Indispensable in the Workplace


Being an asset in any part of one’s life is to truly enjoy what you do, love who you’re around, and ultimately be who you want to be. To be indispensable in the workplace means to go beyond what’s required and simply love doing it, because if you don’t, someone else will. Think this doesn’t make a difference? Think again. Anyone can do what’s asked of them. But, in order to add real value, you have to genuinely have a passion for what you do, because if you do, the extra effort that you give will be effortless. It’s just something you are accustomed to do—go the extra step.

Here are a few tips on how to be indispensable:

1.    Be the expert

A great way to make yourself indispensable in the workplace is to be the expert your company needs in order to be successful. You want coworkers and managers alike to know that you’re the .net programming guru, or that you’ve tinkered around in Excel so much that there’s virtually nothing you can’t do in it. An expert is an asset that a company can’t go without. Most experts don’t realize they’re experts until they’re viewed and sought out as one, because they’re constantly and subconsciously perfecting their expertise. For instance, if you’re genuinely passionate about social media, you’re going to pay attention to that feature piece on the 6 o’clock news about how employers are attempting to require Facebook passwords, and then on Monday when the executive vice president casually starts a conversation surrounding the debate, you can chime in on your point of view. And, the next time Facebook is brought up in conversation, he’s going to think of you.

Your passions could make you your company’s next expert.

2.    Network

Whether your job searching or already in a job, the network you create and maintain is critical to your being indispensable because it accredits you. Network with the people you’re naturally drawn to in social situations, your water cooler buddies, etc. Be sure to make it a point to be conversational with higher-ups who can vouch for you at crunch time, from your manager to the president—make your presence and expertise known. A majority of jobs come about by “knowing someone.” Your job once you get “the job” is to continue to nurture your relationships and continue to create new ones to make sure that you are expanding your social circles.

3.    Be that person but not that person

People who are the happiest in their jobs are the people who are involved in their jobs, during and after business hours. A great boss of mine once gave me this advice before going to a Christmas party: “Be the second or third person to arrive, and don’t shut down the bar.” You need to find that happy medium of being the reputable superstar who’s “always there at the right time”, but not the party person of the year who’s just there for the happy hour. You don’t have to check emails all weekend, but your boss will notice if you shoot off a quick response to a troubled teammate on a Saturday. Be the indispensable solutions provider who always does a little more than what’s asked of them.

4.    Don’t stop learning

This goes hand-in-hand with being your company’s go-to expert, but also demonstrating your flexibility. The people who are the least adaptable to change are often the first ones to complain and the last ones to be viewed as indispensable. The trick is not to lose that “first day mentality” or the hunger that being on the job market instilled in you—otherwise known as that mindset that told you, “I’m going to do this job the best that I can! I’m going to work so hard!” Be resourceful, open-minded, and always willing to learn. “If you’re not part of the solution, you’re part of the problem.” Bosses and coworkers alike appreciate someone who always comes in with a good attitude and a willingness to try new things. Be that person, have that mentality, and know those weird new technologies that everybody else seems to just be hearing about.

5.    Know yourself

This may sound silly to some, but to truly be a productive, indispensable contributor to a company, you must first start with you. Stay healthy, get plenty of sleep, and know your own limits. When you know yourself, it makes it easier for others to know you and thus develop the best working relationship in which to get things accomplished. Knowing yourself also means identifying your own talents. If you know what your passions are, make that into a job, because after all, when you do what you love, those around you hone in on it and know they couldn’t do it without someone with your talent and passion.