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How to be indispensable at work.

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How to be indispensable at work.

Carrington West proudly sponsored the CIHT’s emerging professional conference (EPC) in April. The event took place at Aston University and saw over 250 delegates attend a day of talks, seminars and networking. Director Simon Gardiner, and Senior Consultant, Natasha Jones presented two breakout sessions on “How to be indispensable at work.” 

​​In our first blog post we spoke about being liked, known and trusted as the three key attributes that will make you indispensable at work. In this article, the second in a series, we will look at the practical actions you can take showcase your professional and personal capabilities to decision makers inside your organisation.

​​To make it easy, we have distilled our advice down to seven tops tips on what you need to do to be indispensable inside your organisation.

#1: The action comes before the reward.

​You have to demonstrate your capabilities before you get to the next step. Remember you aren’t the finished article and you need to show evidence of growth and willingness to continue your learning, but you also need to demonstrate competencies of the role that is the next step to get to the next step. Spend time acquiring these skills, they will never be wasted even if you are not going to use them day to day in your current role. Merely the act of showing willingness will help build your brand. 


#2: Mentors

Mentoring and coaching for everyone is, in our view, one of the most valuable development tools a company can have. The fact that it can result in uncomfortable, but transformative conversations can define you going forward. If your organisation doesn’t have a programme; suggest one! At Carrington West everyone has a mentor and everyone of a certain level has a mentee. There will be at least one “grade” difference in levels, but the skills you can learn from a mentor and the skills you develop by being a mentor help you grow and be recognised. When it comes to mentoring, we recommend you divide your efforts by three. A third of your time is learning and listening to those above you, letting them help you but also gaining insights into the next level. A third of your time is spent supporting your peers, work collaboratively, benchmarking and learning from current projects. Finally, a third of your time is spent with new people joining the business. This is important as it means you will have already won them over when it comes managing them, and you will be in a position to be able to offer advice higher up the chain on areas such as training and induction. 


#3: Face time not FaceTime

​Working from home has some huge benefits on productivity and work life balance. But, reduced in-person face time is also have a diminishing affect on interpersonal relationships, especially when we are considering contact with people you do not need to speak to daily to do your job. A Harvard Business Review study showed that team members that put in the work to build and maintain relationships with their seniors, and this includes in person face time, are 82% more likely to be promoted, over those than work remotely and don’t put the ground work in to stay physically connected.  

Step one is to be aware that this is a real thing that is happening, and take steps to rectify the situation to your advantage, because others won’t be. The best way to do this is to use remote working for the lengthy lone tasks you to focus on, and use in office time to maximise opportunities to speak with people and work collaboratively. Double up where you can by having conversations over lunch, at the on site gym or suggest walking meetings to give others a reprieve from their own at desk zoom calls. 


#4: Stay connected

If you are working more than a day or two a week remotely, you need to be creative to stay visible. Even working within your team collaboratively might not being recognised by your managers, however well you are contributing or leading that collaboration. You need to make your work visible, perhaps by suggesting you send updates on projects “since we don’t meet regularly” for example. Be proactive with your thoughts and suggestions by proffering ideas even when they are not asked for, and always offer to help where you can. The act of reaching out is often enough to help raise your profile, but it could also open doors to exciting projects that get you noticed. Most importantly, ask for feedback and act on suggestions to demonstrate you are aware of the areas you need to develop. 


#5: Schedule not “to do”

To do lists rarely get done, even when you are focused and productive so try scheduling instead. The four areas you can start with, and where our most indispensable team members schedule are:

  • Meeting preparation. Spend 10 – 15% of the length of the meeting preparing. Turning up prepared means you will be in a position to contribute more, and be seen as prepared by everyone present. 

  • Follow up. Following up with a colleague, a manager or a mentee keeps you front of mind with them, or even if the follow up is just for yourself, it keeps you on top of your tasks so you are poised for whatever comes next.

  • Walk the corners! Literally schedule time to walk around the office, exchange pleasantries and actively listen to what is going on around the business. Over time, relationships and trust are built and you will be known.

  • Downtime. Scheduling downtime allows you time to deal with issues that arise without derailing the rest of your day and impacting productivity. 


#6: Give first and without expectation of receiving

There is a lot of press around Gen Z especially, wanting immediate gratification and reward, whether this is fair or not,  what is evident is that going above and beyond is one of the top traits of being indispensable. Not expecting anything in return is what sets you apart. And it takes a lot to do. Successful people lean on others, but the payback doesn’t necessarily come in your direction directly. However, over time, being indispensable will eventually yield tangible benefits.

#7: Keep a record

Finally, keep a record of what you do. A “reflection log” , even in a simple excel or word document, is easy to do. Keep notes on collaborations, project outcomes, successes, failures, feedback, training and challenges. When it comes to promotion time you can review your notes and be better prepared and have more to draw on. 

Our final blog will help you understand why and how to transfer your new skills outside of your organisation. Read it here.

Read more expert career advice here.

Questions? Contact us here.