How to make yourself indispensable at work




Are
you critical to your company’s success?

REUTERS/James Glover II

In his 2015 biography, “Elon
Musk: Tesla, SpaceX, and the Quest for a Fantastic Future
,”
Ashlee Vance shares the story of how Musk stopped working
with his longtime executive assistant in early 2014.

According to Vance, the assistant, Mary Beth Brown, asked Musk
for a significant raise after she’d been working with him for 12
years. In response, Musk told Brown to take two weeks off, during
which he would assume her responsibilities and see if
she was really critical to his success.

When Brown returned after two weeks, Musk told Brown he didn’t
need her anymore.

Musk also told Vance that he offered Brown another position at
the company, but she never returned to the office again
after that.

To be sure, this example is pretty extreme. But it’s a solid
lesson in knowing what you’re worth to your organization.

Business Insider spoke with Lynn Taylor, a national workplace
expert and the author of “Tame
Your Terrible Office Tyrant: How to Manage Childish Boss Behavior
and Thrive in Your Job
,” and she shared a few strategies for
assessing your value — before someone else does it for you — and
boosting it.

First, Taylor said, you’ll want to do an “audit” of your
responsibilities. Take 15 minutes one day to think about what
exactly you’re working on.

“Could a temp do what you’re doing and keep your boss happy?”
Taylor said. If the answer is “yes,” or even “maybe,” you might
need to step up your game.

Above all, Taylor said, “you want to make your boss need
you — not just have you on board.” So consider: “What
makes [your boss] successful and how can you align yourself with
that?”

Some people call it “managing
up
” — it’s about figuring out how you can make your boss look
good to their boss.

One tactic is to flat-out ask your boss whether you’re
adding enough value to the organization. You don’t even have to
wait for your next performance review, Taylor said.

While you’re discussing some other project, you can say, “By the
way, I want to make sure that I’m really providing the most
value-added work that I can. I know you have a lot on your plate
— are there any areas that I could work on, on my time, that
would help make your job easier?”

Come prepared with specific examples of how you could help. For
example, let’s say you know your boss has been working on a tough
project. And let’s say you have some solid research
experience from your last job that could be an asset to this
project.

You could tell your boss, “I noticed that you were working
on XYZ. I know that my background in X might be able to take care
of some of the more routine aspects of that, but maybe
even even some strategic aspects of that. I’d love to give
it a shot, if you’re open to it.”

Bottom line: You just want to make yourself an integral part of
your boss’ success — and the company’s. What happens after that
is out of your control.

Taylor said: “No one is indispensable. It’s just to what degree
are you harder to replace.”

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