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7 Ways to Make Yourself Irreplaceable at Work

When I was starting my first job out of college, our COO gave us some advice: “Order this book, go home and read it over the weekend, then come back and find a way to be a linchpin.” The guiding principles of Seth Godin’ book, Linchpin: Are You Indispensable? are pretty simple: if you want to be successful, find a way to make yourself irreplaceable at work. That can mean any number of things, depending on where you are and what you do, but for most of us, it’s a fast-track to job security.
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What’s it mean to be a linchpin? It could be beefing up your skills or being the first one in the office every day. You might make yourself into the person who dabbles in IT, the person who plays golf with the who’s who in town, or the person who can take a good idea, chew over it for a bit, then reintroduce it with a new, solid-gold angle.

Whatever their specialty, irreplaceable people understand that it’s not enough to just show up and do the work. The real value is in that extra bit you bring to the table out of your own curiosity and determination. And any good manager knows that one dedicated worker is worth two or three meh employees any day. Want to be indispensable? Snag Seth Godin’s book, and try out these seven tips for making yourself irreplaceable at work.

Any good manager knows that one dedicated worker is worth two or three meh employees.Click To Tweet

1. Come With Ideas.

Whether you’re working as a manager, associate or intern, one of the best ways to make yourself irreplaceable at work is to come with ideas. Bring actionable ideas to the table, but bring big-picture ideas, too. Got an idea for a new vertical? Think your company should be investigating new offerings? Want to spearhead a company culture overhaul? Think there’s potential to sell the client on a budget increase? Offer up your ideas! If you think it might move the needle for the company, bring it up for consideration. An employee that doubles as an idea factory is one of the most valuable business assets.

2. Offer to Take Things On.

Is there something in the office that doesn’t really fall under anyone’s role, but that desperately needs a little attention? Is there a Christmas party that needs planning, processes that could be streamlined or a new internal project that needs spearheading? If you want to make yourself irreplaceable at work, offer to take on the things nobody else wants to — just be sure you’ve got a clear sense of your boundaries.

3. Pitch New Business Opportunities.

Being a great presenter is one of the most valuable business skills to have, and one of the toughest to teach. If you want to be hard to replace at work, practice your presentation skills, then search for potential new clients to use them on. If you can tie a number to your contributions in the form of new business, your managers will start to see you as the one to bring along for the pitch. As for how to do this, start by practicing your storytelling skills, and make your pitches feel authentic and impassioned.

Do You Know What You're Worth?

4. Offer Solutions.

If there’s a problem at work, instead of joining the ranks of people who just complain about it or avoid being questioned, be one of the first to offer a few thoughtful solutions. Do some research, outline a process, and suggest an alternative. Odds are, your bosses will appreciate your problem-solving skills and your willingness to help troubleshoot issues and improve productivity.

5. Find Your Niche.

If you’re looking for job security, spend some time zeroing in on your “unfair advantage.” What skill do you have that nobody else at your company can compete with? What can you do that no one else on staff can do? How can that skill affect your company’s bottom line? What skills could you grow out of that and use as a value-add? Find your niche, then look for new ways to highlight your contributions in that space.

6. Get to Know Your Boss.

If you want your bosses to see you as irreplaceable, spend some time getting to know them on a personal level. Ask them about their families, how they spend their weekends, what shows they’re watching and what they’d be doing if they weren’t at the company. Make no mistake: being irreplaceable first starts with loyalty, so make sure you’re someone your managers know, respect and trust.

7. Be Trustworthy.

And on that note, if you want to be irreplaceable, be trustworthy. Keep an open, honest dialogue with your managers, and keep them abreast of your goals and plans. If another opportunity comes up, discuss it with them and give them a chance to match it. Keep out of office gossip, and be direct and professional with your communication. Essentially, don’t give your managers a reason to worry. The most successful employees are the ones who make their bosses’ jobs easier, so do what you can to have your boss’s, reports’ and coworkers’ backs and make your office environment a happy place for everyone.

Tell Us What You Think

What would you add to this list? We want to hear from you. Tell us your thoughts in the comments or join the conversation on Twitter.

Megan Shepherd
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Janeen Israel
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Janeen Israel

I think that all makes sense and is exactly what I did at my last job. But it doesn’t take into account unstable managers who operate on emotion instead of good sense. Unfortunately, they will still let you go in a rage, regret it later, but are too prideful to admit their mistake.

Bethany Coulter
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Bethany Coulter

I would dispute something in #2 – Offer to Take Things On. Be careful about offering to plan office parties, birthdays, etc. They may or may not be appreciated, but they will make you look more like an administrative assistant than someone capable of advancing to higher positions and worthy of promotion. Also, be sure that what you are offering to take on is something you are willing to be stuck with for the duration of your time at that company. Once you take something on, it’s awfully hard to pass it to someone else so make sure it is… Read more »

Dana Stewart
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Dana Stewart

Yup, done #1, oh yeah #2 also, and 3 as well, along with ,4,5,6,7 and 8!! Which you don’t even have listed !

The problem with this article, and MULTPLE EXPERIENCES support my assertion is that…..THE MANAGER GETS PROMOTED, and you & I get left behind to kiss the ass of the newest up & comer.

Sandile Motha
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Sandile Motha

yes

KG+
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KG+

All valid. Unless your company is going downhill slowly and they cant pay you anymore even after other people were being let go of as well. ALso does not apply when there is favoritism. All things for a reason tho. Got a better job, same pay and not as many hours. Thank You God!

ACC
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ACC

I frame it differently. Make sure you develop and maintain a toolkit of in demand soft and hard skills, as well as a professional network so you don’t have to spend too long looking for the next job if and when the current job comes to an end. Loyalty may not stop the axe falling but could help with finding the next position. Always stay positive, professional and leave on the best of terms.

Dark Star
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Dark Star

It’s what happens when you are taken for granted.

Dark Star
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Dark Star

It’s what happens when you are taken for granted.

Dark Star
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Dark Star

Like the saying goes, “If they don’t appreciate your presence, make them appreciate your abscence”.

DSC
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DSC

The Owners/culture will determine if this can work there, I have had personal experience where my advice and counsel helped the company and better protected it from an employee, contract and cost abuses. However, due to these very changes that I initiated to bring about, came back around to bite me with way overreaching policies. All this work and nurturing I had done (over months) for the business in major upheaval and real mess!! Didn’t help me or really the company. (in the long run) Now, I move forward with the notion that if I get paid for it, I… Read more »

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