April – May 2020 – Career Report – Issue 241
Making Yourself Indispensable During and After the Shut-Down
Your company, like most others, will go through many transitions during this pandemic shut-down. If you have managed to survive or have been furloughed until the isolation is lifted; your company viewed you as a well-regarded employee who possesses skills and knowledge that make you an important member of its team. But now you want to do more than just hold on. You want to become an indispensable employee. In the following Q&A article from The New York Times during the 2008-09 recession, careers columnist Eilene Zimmerman offers a variety of ideas to help you to succeed.
Q. How can you make yourself more valuable to your company and improve your chances of a future promotion?
You can enhance your odds of a promotion by suggesting ways to solve problems, taking the initiative on projects, sharpening your skills and showing a willingness to help others. Find ways that the company can earn more money and spend less, said Larry Myler, chief executive of the consulting firm More or Less Inc., in Provo, Utah. When you see ways to cut costs or streamline processes, develop a plan and write a proposal, Myler said.
Presenting that to your manager “shows you’re taking initiative, which makes you more valuable,” he told the newspaper. “You will be seen as a person who is mindful of the company’s bottom line and who has the ability to do something about it. That’s huge.”
Q. How do you carve out a niche for yourself in the company–one that sets you apart as an expert in a specific area and how do you manage to do that while handling your usual job responsibilities?
To create that niche, focus on what you already know, rather than picking a new area and then trying to learn all about it, said Vaughan Evans, a career strategist in London. “Let’s say you are very proficient with numbers, quantitative work and using the Excel program,” Evans said. “Why not become a master at Excel so that within the origination, you are the go-to person for that program?”
Building on your strengths – and letting your weaknesses go – will enable you to carve out a niche. Keep in mind, though, that your area of expertise needs to be important to the organization, Evans added.
Q. Should you ask your manager whether the company would be willing to pay for additional training?
Some career experts say that during challenging economic times, employees should be cautious about asking their companies to cover costs for training, conferences or additional education. Myler suggested that if you do ask, be frugal about it. “Asking your company to cover the cost of attendance at a pricey conference probably won’t go over well,” he said. “Instead, ask if they will pay for the conference notes—usually a nominal cost—and do self-study instead.”
Ingrid Stabb, co-author of “The Career With You,” suggested checking with human resources to see whether tuition reimbursement is among your benefits. That money can be used to pay for a variety of courses that further your expertise in a particular area, she said. If the company won’t pay, you might want to consider footing the bill yourself for evening or weekend classes or for online courses.
Q. What’s the best way to make management aware of steps you are taking to enhance your skills and expertise, without sounding obnoxious about it?
Show your strengths in a way that benefits your boss and everyone in your department. Stabb said: “If your strength is organizing data, for example, and you know there is all this data your boss has but hasn’t organized, create a spreadsheet table that makes it easier for the department to access the information, and then offer to lead a brown-bag lunch presentation to explain how to read it.
Being helpful toward and protective of others is another way to showcase your knowledge – in a nonthreatening way. This applies to both colleagues and managers. For example, when you have information that can be useful to others, share it, said Sandra Naiman, owner of the executive coaching firm SNM Partners in Denver and author of “High Achievers Secret Codebook: The Unwritten Rules for Success at Work.” This could include articles in trade journals, information on the company’s intranet and relevant online sources.
When others go out of their way to help you in a similar manner, always give them credit by sending an e-mail message to their boss to describe the help, she told the newspaper.
“The bottom line is you want to be known and relied upon by many people in the organization as possible,” Naiman said. “The more people who depend upon you for their success, the more valuable you become.”
NEWS from BLK
Like the rest of the world we at BLK are scrambling to establish a new normal as the business world is on hold and have continued our virtual model. Our talent discovery team is devoting its time to a few medical clients that are adjusting to the changing demands put onto the healthcare system. Other members of our team are putting energies into building talent ques so we are prepared for staffing demands once the non-essential business ban is lifted.
April 1st was BLK’s 40th Anniversary of assisting job seekers and employers with their hiring challenges. That’s right “April Fools Day” I so wish this was a dream that we are experiencing. As president of Berman Larson Kane for the past 40 years I have no doubt that a new and better normal will emerge as we all return to good health. Having weathered numerous unanticipated economic storms, recessions, world events and work restructurings I have no doubt that ”this too shall pass”.
Stay healthy. Keep your social distance and virus FREE.