You probably don’t think you’re really indispensable–most people don’t. However, the uncertainties you might face at work and in your journey to overall career success could prompt you to decide you’d better find a way to become indispensable if you want to make sure you can keep your job. The question is, of course, how do you become (nearly) indispensable?
Here’s a key thought: “No one person is indispensable, but all people are important.” (William Dale Crist, business advisor) This suggests one significant point to keep in mind: If you’re important enough to your company, you increase the odds of becoming nearly indispensable.
Think about the situation where a person is in business for him/herself and has no employees. If that individual becomes non-functional for some reason, the business might collapse. That’s pretty indispensable, right?
Here’s another situation, one you might have encountered more often: An individual in your company has expertise that’s not common and is currently much in demand–both within your company and with its competitors. What happens if/when that individual decides to leave or has to leave for some reason? Replacing him/her can be hugely difficult, maybe even impossible in the near term. That could be as close to indispensable as it’s possible to get.
In a case like that, importance becomes the key. It’s a relative term, depending on the circumstances. If your skills and expertise are fairly common (easy to replace), your degree of importance to the company sits at a lower level on the scale of indispensability. One way to improve the situation is to focus on continually upgrading and expanding your skills–preferably in areas that will help boost your perceived importance within the company.
That’s not all it takes, of course. Acquiring new skills could just be a “nice to have” element if you don’t do anything useful with it. Useful to your employer, that is. What’s more, you need to ensure (in the most appropriate way) that those new skills or abilities become as widely known as possible without falling into the trap of tooting your own horn all the time. “Fans” who will toot it for you are a huge benefit in this respect.
A company needs a strong value proposition to sell its products and services to customers, especially in a competitive business environment. As an employee–whether a senior manager or a rank-and-file worker–you also need to develop a compelling value proposition. That proposition must convince your current employer (or your potential new employer, if you’re looking) that you are too valuable to let slip away.
And it’s based on more than just your skill-set or expertise. If you’re someone who motivates or inspires others to complete critical projects on time and under budget, whether or not you’re directly responsible for that outcome, you’re almost certainly a valuable asset to the company–and therefore as nearly indispensable as you can get.
Or think of it this way: You frequently see potential trouble well before anyone else and present a workable action plan to steer clear of it. When you become known for that within your company, you increase your perceived value substantially. If you extend that reputation beyond the borders of your current employer–say, within the broader industry realm–you’ve ratcheted-up your value proposition to a whole new level.
The point is that you need to find a way to stand out and become memorable (valued) for what you bring to the party, ideally in a way that no one else does or at least doesn’t do as well as you.