First and foremost, I hope you had a safe and wonderful 4th of July weekend! I hope you were able to disconnect as much as you possibly could and spent quality, uninterrupted time with your friends and family. Those servers and routers will still be there when you get back!
If you look up the definition of indispensable the first definition reads:
“absolutely necessary, essential, or requisite: an indispensable member of the staff.”
Coincidentally the sample sentence used here is exactly what I’d like to discuss with this post, how to works towards becoming as indispensable as possible at your job. I say “as possible” because given today’s job market, the competition IT staff regularly face and other external factors (budget cuts, outsourcing, cheaper talent), it’s impossible to make sure any one individual is completely indispensable. However you can continually work on becoming as indispensable as possible to your employer. Here are my top ten actions and IT support person (or any IT person really) can take towards becoming indispensable:
- Stay up to speed on the latest technologies (training, reading, magazines, peer discussions, etc.)…
- …and prove it by keeping your certifications up to speed and renewing your current ones.
- Understand the role that technology plays in your organization…
- …and help increase that role by finding ways to use technology to benefit the organization such as lower costs, improve profits, increase productivity and improve efficiency.
- Develop and keep a “customer first” mentality (tip: view everyone as your “customer”). Every IT support person is in the customer service business.
- Develop and keep a “business first” mentality – Remember, technology is there to support the business. No business – no technology, no technology – no job.
- Be the “go to guy” on your team. If your boss is looking for a volunteer, be that guy/gal. If someone has an issue, be the person who volunteers to fix it (even if you don’t immediately know the answer).
- Develop an “IT support network”. No one knows everything but if you know the right people you can still solve problems and own an issue from beginning to end. It’s much easier (and more realistic) to have a network of people you can call upon for help than to try and learn everything yourself.
- Don’t pass the buck. When something goes wrong -and things often do – stand up and take responsibility. Own the mistake or problem and have an action plan to fix it. This is far more impressive than trying to pass the buck or shy away from the problem.
- Smile. Corny? Maybe, but I couldn’t tell you how many IT people walk around with a sour puss on their face and who wants to deal with that type of person? People like to work with people that are happy and pleasant to work with. Even if you’re not in the greatest of moods make sure to smile at everyone you encounter. Research has shown that smiling actually releases endorphins and can actually trick the body into helping you change your mood.
- Be grateful. The Happier Human blog has a great list of reasons to express gratitude but the most relevant one is that it boosts your career. Taken directly from their list:
Gratitude makes you a more effective manager,c1,c2 helps you network, increases your decision making capabilities, increases your productivity, and helps you get mentors and proteges.b1 As a result, gratitude helps you achieve your career goals, as well as making your workplace a more friendly and enjoyable place to be.a2, b2
Of course all of these require various levels of effort and commitment. Only you can determine how much effort you want to put in your career. Based on my experience the more of these things you can do, the more valuable you become to both your current and potential future employers. After all, every employer is looking for the same thing, to get the most value out of their employers and value doesn’t come from your overall output alone. After looking at this list, how much value would you say you’re currently providing to your employer?
How do you make yourself indispensable? Are there any other strategies you employ that I haven’t listed? I’d love to hear your thoughts on the topic. Post below!