11 Critical Lessons for Becoming Indispensable at Work

Bill O'Reilly

The most important thing for workers to understand is that you have to make yourself indispensable.


Are You an Indispensable Part of the Company You Work For?

Here’s the scenario: You’ve been working the same job for several years now. You’re good at what you do, and you’re also reliable and trustworthy. You’re loyal to the company you work for, and you suspect that the loyalty works both ways. However, this is rarely the case.

The truth is that your job is not as secure as you think it is. In fact, things could change suddenly and swiftly. One day you have a fantastic job and a stable income, and the next day you’re facing unemployment and tremendous uncertainty.

As tough as it is to accept such a reality, the truth is that unless your value exceeds the value others bring to the company, then you are considered dispensable.

If your company decides to make cuts, then guess who’s going to lose their job first? You! You will be let go even if you’ve been loyal to the organization for many years.

These days, more and more work is being outsourced. Furthermore, technology is making certain jobs obsolete. Therefore, the only way to truly secure your job and your financial future is to learn how to become indispensable.


What it Means to Become Indispensable

Becoming indispensable hinges upon your willingness to work hard while maintaining high levels of productivity. You need to be extremely efficient and effective in the way you go about your tasks and responsibilities.

However, becoming indispensable isn’t just about maintaining the status-quo. It’s not just about doing your job. It’s about doing your job better than anybody else. Moreover, it’s about consistently finding ways to improve your workflow while increase company profits and efficiency.

All this enhances your value to your employer because the company’s (or department’s) success is heavily dependent on you. Moreover, other people depend on you. Without you, the department wouldn’t function as efficiently as it does today. Without you, people would lack the focus and motivation needed to achieve company goals and objectives.

When you’re indispensable, you become a thought leader within your organization. You don’t only do your job, you go above and beyond in ways that help your company exceed forecasts and expectations. It’s as though you’re the MVP or CEO of the company and/or department you work for. Everything revolves around you. Everything is possible because of you.

To become indispensable, you need to be the lifeblood of your company. You must strive to be consistent and adaptable. You must also be a team player who involves and motivates others. Specifically, you need to come across as being supportive, responsible, trustworthy, reliable, dependable, and upbeat. These are the essential characteristics that build the bedrock of your future with this organization.

When you become indispensable you will naturally have greater job security, higher pay, and better opportunities for promotion. Moreover, you will be assigned to special projects where you will be given higher levels of responsibility.

This, of course, sounds wonderful. But how do we do it? How do we actually become indispensable? How do we guarantee our job security in the long-term? Well, there are many things you can do. Some are small, while others require that you go above and beyond what is typically expected.

In the end, it comes down to “application.” How willing are you to work on enhancing your value? How willing are you to do the things that others are simply unwilling to do? That’s essentially what it takes to become indispensable.

Becoming Indispensable at Work


11 Critical Lessons for Becoming Indispensable at Work

What follows are 11 lessons that will show you what it takes to become indispensable to the organization you work for.

Some of these guidelines will be simple to follow, while others will take considerable work, commitment, and dedication. In other words, you must apply yourself to becoming an indispensable part of your organization. However, without consistent application, you will always be lagging behind.

Remember, that you’re constantly competing with others. No matter how much value you bring, it will not be enough if someone else is doing more than you. And when layoffs need to be made, you won’t stand a chance because you are considered dispensable. In other words, you don’t bring enough value to your organization — you haven’t given them enough reasons to keep you on board.

However, things don’t have to be this way. And it all starts with following the guidelines outlined below.


1. Have Pride in the Work You Do

Becoming indispensable begins and ends with you. And where it starts specifically is with how you apply yourself to your work.

To become indispensable, you must take pride in what you do. This requires doing things carefully, thoughtfully, correctly, and thoroughly. It requires holding yourself to the highest of standards.

It all effectively comes down to the pursuit of excellence. You need to strive to achieve the highest standards of excellence in everything you do. Only then will you reach a level where you will become indispensable to your organization.

2. Take Personal Initiative to Get Things Done

To truly stand out you also need to take personal initiative. Ask yourself:

What could I do that could help me stand out?

Where could I do a little extra work that will get me noticed?

What task or project is vital to the company’s success?

Personal initiative is taking it upon yourself to go the extra mile to get things done. However, the initiative you take must be meaningful. In other words, it must be vital to the company’s or department’s success.

With this in mind, take personal initiative to tackle challenging tasks and projects. Your objective is to get on the radar of top level managers. But above all else, honor the commitments you make. When you take personal initiative to get something done, that then becomes your responsibility. You must always see it through until the end.

3. The Key is to Get Noticed

You can be the hardest worker in your organization. You can also come up with brilliant ideas that move the company forward. However, you won’t become indispensable if you fail to get noticed by the right people.

To get noticed you need to stand out from the crowd. You need to tackle tasks and projects that put you in the spotlight.

However, this isn’t so much about tooting your own horn. It’s more about demonstrating your leadership, dedication, and ingenuity in various ways and across multiple projects and disciplines. It’s also about embracing problems and tackling them in more efficient and effective ways.

Every organization faces different types of problems. If you take the initiative to solve those problems, then you will likely get noticed. And often this means volunteering to tackle highly complex projects that have a high level of visibility. Yes, you might fail, but if you don’t try, you will never succeed.

Guidelines for Becoming Indispensable

4. Consistently Show Your Appreciation

The people who are seen as being indispensable, are the ones who have proven time and again that they deeply care about the company they work for. They, of course, prove this through their actions, but also through their words and the commitments they make to the organization.

Don’t ever hold yourself back when it comes to showing your genuine appreciation. Tell your supervisor, manager, and even the CEO of your company how much you value your position. Moreover, inform them that you will do anything to help move the company forward.

However, words are often not enough. If your words don’t match your actions, you will lose all credibility. You must therefore back your words with actions that prove to top level managers that you are fully committed to this organization for the long-haul.

5. Develop Core Skills and Abilities

Consider for a moment the core skills and abilities you need to perform your job at the highest level. Ask yourself:

What core skills, knowledge, and experience would help me to excel on the job?

What core skills, knowledge, and experience would be vital to the company’s success?

What core skills, knowledge, and experience would help me to stand out and get noticed?

Imagine for a moment that somebody else within your organization is working like crazy behind the scenes developing their skills, improving their knowledge, and gaining vital experience. What do you think will result from this?

The outcome will probably result in a future promotion or pay rise. Moreover, an upgrade in their skills, knowledge, and experience makes them highly indispensable to the organization.

Now, imagine you just do what is required and don’t go the extra mile to improve and develop yourself. What do you think will be the result? Well, to put it simply, you will eventually become irrelevant. In the future, there may not be a need for your services because other people within your organization have outgrown you.

With all this in mind, you must set a plan in place where you consistently work on upgrading your knowledge and skills. Ask yourself:

Where do I need to upgrade my knowledge and skills to help improve my performance?

How will I upgrade my knowledge and skills? What courses could I attend? What books should I read? What experience could be of value?

The key though is to focus on developing in demand skills, knowledge, and experience. You can’t possibly learn everything. You must, therefore, be very selective where you direct your focus and attention.

Focusing on the wrong areas for development is equally as bad as not developing yourself at all. With this in mind, prioritize and figure out what skills you will need to develop, what knowledge you must acquire, and what experience you must obtain to help you become an indispensable part of the organization.

In the end, it’s all about making a commitment to lifelong learning.

6. Develop Your Oral and Written Communication Skills

Two critical career skills that are always in demand are oral and written communication skills.

People who hold leadership positions within an organization have often done so on the back of their communication skills. Their ability to write persuasively, to negotiate, to lead people, to give outstanding presentations, and to network effectively puts them in a position of authority and power. Moreover, these people are the most valued and prized individuals within the company. In other words, they are the most indispensable.

Oral or written communication skills are required on some level no matter what position you hold within a company. However, those individuals who have mastered these skills at a proficient level often hold high positions of authority within an organization.

Now, of course, you might not see any value in developing your communication skills at your current position. However, if you desire to become a person of influence and an indispensable part of your organization, then you must commit yourself to developing your communication skills. Only in this way will you climb the ranks and become an indispensable part of your organization.

7. Stay Abreast of Industry Trends and Changes

To become indispensable to your organization you need to have access to the right kind of knowledge and information. More specifically, you need to stay on top of the latest industry news, changes and trends. Furthermore, you need to understand how these trends and changes impact you, your department, and the company as a whole.

Knowledge, of course, gives you power. However, you need to use that knowledge effectively to wield that power. For instance, you can use it to identify threats that are on the horizon. Or, use it to unlock key opportunities that can move your department or the company forward in some way.

You then need to communicate this information to key influencers within your organization. It’s important though, not to come to them with problems. Bring the problem along with several solutions. Identifying problems will not be enough to grow your value. You need to come bearing practical insights and ideas that can lead to an implementation plan. That is the only way you will become indispensable.

Ideas to Become Indispensable at Work

8. Pay Careful Attention to Office Dynamics

Office dynamics are always fascinating. Understanding these dynamics will help you to identify who holds the most power, who has the most influence, and who has vital connections that can help move your career forward.

Take your department as a whole, and reflect for the moment on the following questions.

Who is connected to who in my department? How strong are these connections?

How are these people connected to other people within the organization?

Who is most respected? Why are they respected by others?

Who is taken seriously and commands attention?

Who holds the most power and authority? How could I get on their radar?

What people should I strive to align myself with?

Often, to truly become indispensable you need to align yourself with key people within your organization. In the end, it’s all about relationships and your ability to nurture strong relationships over the long-haul.

9. Nurture Strong Relationships

Becoming indispensable to your organization isn’t always about what you know but rather who you know, or better yet, who knows about you.

With this in mind, it’s critical that you are constantly building strong relationships with the people you work with. More specifically, build relationships with people who have a high level of influence within the organization.

Every relationship must be based on trust, integrity, and honesty. You must also show your loyalty and commitment to the company. With this in mind, strive to build relationships with top managers, coworkers, stakeholders, key decision makers, vendors, and also with valued clients.

A company’s biggest clients have tremendous power and influence upon the organization. As such, they also have a say with whom they prefer to work with. And that, of course, can work to your advantage.

10. Consistently Generate New Ideas

Your true value to your organization is intrinsically linked to your day-to-day production. More specifically, it’s linked to the ideas you can generate that help improve the company’s bottom line. These are the things that will have the biggest impact on your career success. Ask yourself:

Where could I save the company money?

What ideas do I have that could boost the company’s revenue?

If you just happen not to have any big revolutionary ideas, then you can still make a positive difference in smaller ways. Small incremental improvements to your department grow in significance over the long-term. Just be on the constant lookout for ways you can improve effectiveness and efficiency around the office. Ask yourself:

How else could this be done?

How could I get this done faster and more efficiently?

Alternatively, find the means to make your supervisor’s job easier. This not only helps them but also helps you because it puts you on their radar and thereby makes you a more valuable asset to the company.

11. Never Make Excuses for Poor Performance

One thing that will instantly lower your value is getting caught up in making excuses for poor performance, for not hitting targets, or for not getting work done.

The people who make excuses and who constantly complain are not valued highly by any organization. You need to become a Go-Getter who takes full responsibility for absolutely everything that passes through their hands.

Whether something’s your fault or not, don’t make excuses or complain about problems, co-workers, managers, or the company in general. Instead, dig deeper within yourself and make improvements. Offer solutions that can help push things forward. That is the only way to gain true respect within any organization.

How to Become Indispensable at Work


Concluding Thoughts

Becoming indispensable to your organization certainly won’t be easy. It takes hard work, commitment, and unflinching dedication. You need to acquire the right knowledge, develop critical skills, and form strong bonds with those you work with. But, even with this, nothing is guaranteed.

You can do all the right things and follow the guidelines listed here, and yet, still, make no inroads. You may still not get the respect and accolades you truly deserve. And if that’s the case, then possibly, it’s time to move on. Look for other opportunities, other companies, or other career paths where you can prove your true value and worth to an organization.

Yes, the grass can often be greener on the other side. 😉


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Becoming Indispensable

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Adam is a life coach, mind mapper, doodler and visual thinker. He founded IQ Matrix in 2009 and has created over 350 self-growth mind maps. He also has a Free 40 Day How to Doodle Course where he teaches how to doodle using simple daily lessons. Read more about Adam’s story, and how he created the concept for IQ Matrix. Feel free to also get in touch and send Adam a message here.