4 Ways to Make Yourself Indispensable to Your Boss
Tip 1: Build on what you are told.
When a manager gives instructions, a good employee will closely follow the directions and do what he or she is told. However, a great employee will not only follow the directions he or she is given but also will add value by pushing the project along anticipating the manager’s next step. Your managers are often busy managing multiple aspects of project. Therefore, you can’t expect your managers to do their jobs and also yours. They won’t have time to spell out every single aspect of your project assignment. During check-in meetings, let your manager know what you both had agreed upon and the extra effort you put in to advance your aspect of the project. When you demonstrate competence, your manager likely will give you more independence to run with projects, and you will become a little more indispensable.
Tip 2: Have a “can-do” attitude.
If you want to become indispensable to your manager, then one of the best ways to distinguish yourself from your peers is to be a “can-do” person as opposed to someone who often says, “No.” Managers look for professionals who not only produce exceptional results but also have a “can-do” attitude. The best way to strengthen your bond with your manager is to step up when he or she makes a request. If you can become a reliable “go-to” person, your relationship with your manager will strengthen. Realistically, you will not be able to complete every request exactly as it is outlined. Demonstrate your commitment to your manager first by saying, “Yes,” and then bring up an alternative plan of execution based on your time and resource constraints. If you find a way to reliably deliver results, especially in difficult situations, your manager will begin to view you as a “go-to” person.
Tip 3: Lighten your manager’s workload.
Volunteer to take projects off of your manager’s plate. During check-in meetings, ask about projects coming down the pipeline. If you hear about a project that fits your skill set, offer to get the ball rolling. To become truly indispensable, identify ways in which your skill set complements your manager’s skill set. If your manager hates doing a particular task and you are willing to take it on, he or she will want to keep you around for as long as possible. One note of caution: While it is OK to occasionally volunteer for administrative work to make your manager’s life easier, you should prioritize going after projects that demonstrate and grow your skill set.
Tip 4: Keep your manager updated on a timely basis and let him or her know of any bumps in the road.
Managers never like to be surprised. So the best way to be indispensable to your manager is to make sure you routinely keep him or her updated on your work. You can do that by establishing formal check-ins or informally do so by dropping by. You also can send e-mail updates. Your office culture will dictate the appropriate manner for the update, but frequency is important. Also, be sure to give your manager a “heads up” if there is a problem you have encountered so it can be addressed at an early stage. Remember, no one likes to be surprised at work.
A graduate of Harvard Law School and Harvard College, Sharon E. Jones is the founder and CEO of Jones Diversity, Inc., which offers services to organizations looking to improve their workplace culture and create more diverse and inclusive teams. Her firm’s broad range of consulting services have enhanced the competitive edge of law firms, corporations, and not-for-profits by enabling each organization to fully utilize, retain, and promote diverse individuals into leadership roles. Jones has practiced law and been a community leader over a 25-year career, including positions as an Assistant U.S. Attorney, as Senior Counsel for Fortune 500 Corporations, and with major law firms. Additionally, she has served as a board member for the Institute for Inclusion in the Legal Profession and president of the Black Women Lawyers Association of Chicago, which she co-founded. Jones is the author of “Mastering the Game,” which is now available on Amazon and through other major booksellers. She has won numerous awards as a lawyer, industry leader, and advocate, and is a frequent speaker. Learn more at www.drummajorpress.com and www.jonesdiversity.com, and connect with Jones on Twitter and LinkedIn.