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What does it mean to be indispensable at work?

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What does it mean 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 this article, the first in a series of short articles, we will look at the content they covered and some of the key points that will help anyone starting out in their career.

Let’s start at the beginning…

Why do we need to be indispensable at work? Put simply, just doing your job, even doing your job well, is not enough to help you progress in your career. There will always be more competition the higher up the corporate ladder you go and expertise alone will not get you noticed. Being indispensable is about building your reputation (let’s call it your brand) so you can answer these questions positively:

  • What do people think when they hear your name?

  • What do people feel when they hear your name?

  • Are you liked, known or trusted?

By people we mean colleagues, reportees, managers, decision makers, stakeholders, clients and industry peers. These are the people who impact your day-to-day professional lives as well as your long term opportunities to make your mark. 

If we take a moment to be really self-critical, most of us would consider the answers to be something like “They are very talented, but…” or “they clearly know their stuff, however…”.The worst that could happen is the answer to the above three questions is “who”? 

We have highlighted the key word from each question for a reason. Being indispensable is about becoming liked, known and trusted, and when you have achieved these, you will be indispensable. 

Why? Firstly, people respond to the management and direction of people they like, know and trust. Building the foundations to be a good manager can never start too early. These are not skills and attributes you pick up the day you get promoted into a people management position, it takes time and it takes development. Secondly, larger and more complex projects are given to people who are liked, known and trusted. Everyone wants a safe pair of hands. This is beyond technical expertise, you maybe incredibly gifted in a technical role, but you need to be trusted to bring the wider team along on the journey, to get the best out of people, to inspire confidence with stakeholders and to deliver against deadlines. These are all skills that you need to shout about to be indispensable. 

Finally, people promote people they like, know and trust. Whatever your personal motivations, we can guarantee young professionals want to climb the career ladder. Whether it is for more money, more choice and autonomy, or even status, being promoted is very important especially at the beginning of your career.

For this first blog we will leave you with the characteristics of someone who is liked, known, trusted and therefore indispensable:

  • You are the go-to

  • You get things done

  • You are reliable

  • Your boss cannot imagine having to replace you

  • Your team cannot imagine life without you

  • No one questions your loyalty or commitment

  • You are highly productive

  • You exceed expectations 

  • You are loyal

  • You are positive 

  • You live by the values of your team and company

  • You generate new ideas

Read the next blog, 'How to be indispensable at work', including 7 practical actions you can take showcase your professional and personal capabilities to decision makers inside and outside of your organisation. 

Our final blog on 'How to be indispensable outside of your organisation' is available now.

Read more expert career advice here.

Questions? Contact us here.