Indispensability for Professionals

 

Introduction

In the 1939 movie classic The Wizard of Oz, a cyclone sweeps Dorothy Gale and her little dog “Toto” to the magical land of Oz. Dorothy wonders through the land, meeting some strange characters.  There is the Scarecrow who desires a brain; the Tin Man who wants a heart; and the Cowardly Lion who hopes for courage. As Dorothy vows to help solve each of their individual problems, she gains power and influence that speaks to the concept of indispensability.

The future is filled with uncertainty. More and more jobs go abroad. Companies continue to shrink in size in hopes of being more competitive.  Business executives understand the power of technology and outsourcing to gain a business edge.

 However, many workers must rely on the good will of their employers to stay gainfully employed.  Sadly, many workers do not fully understand the merits of indispensability in their lives. Bloomberg Businessweek magazine editor Josh Tyrangiel called indispensability the new word of 2011. Tyrangiel notes, “How do we make people smarter and save them time?”

For my clients and students, I have emphasized the importance of building customer value in everything that they do. In fact, it is an attribute to one’s branding strategy to be unforgettable to others. However, many workers operate in the dark shadows of their organizations. Renowned preacher Richard S. Brown, Jr. proclaims to his audience, “Everyone wants to be outstanding but no one wants to stand out.” 

Yet, it is the “standing out” that catches everyone’s attention.  I’ve written several books on this new 21st-century theme, including Breaking Organizational Ties, Publishing for Professionals, and Job Strategies for the 21st Century. If you do the same things that you’ve always been doing, then you shouldn’t be surprised if you get the same results.

Gaining influence is therefore critical in achieving any substantial level of success in life. When an individual has a clear platform as an expert, people tend to listen.  In fact, a person can often gain more influence at work and in the community with a clear personal strategy. This article provides individuals with a proven method for becoming indispensable in their organizations in order to build sustainability in their professions.

The Current Market

With economic pressures, organizations look to streamline and drop processes and people that do not add value to their bottom-line. Some people sit back and hope that business will create more jobs. With a weak economic growth rate of 3%, these jobs will not rapidly appear anytime soon for the 15 million people still unemployed. This reality speaks to the record number (1.3 million) of “discouraged” workers as of last November. Discouraged workers are individuals not currently looking for work because they believe no jobs are available to them.

Coping Solutions

Indispensability means adding value to your customers and organization. In the classic sense, indispensability means being absolutely essential or necessary. Yet, it goes to the heart of being relevant. Kivi Miller, author of The Nonprofit Marketing Guide, argues it’s important to listener to your customers: “Every day presents an opportunity to learn more about the people you are trying to help and the people who are trying to help you.” Therefore, getting to know your target audience is critical.Are you indispensible to your organization or community? If not, why not? Being indispensable speaks the pressing needs of organizations to compete in a global environment.

The following are a few strategies for gaining indispensability in your organization: (a) Devote time to solving important problems for your customer; (b) Showcase your expertise on a variety of levels (blogs, media expert, etc.); (c) Be a great source of information by writing and speaking; (d) Champion a significant cause in a nonprofit organization such as United Way; (e) Become the linchpin that connects people with problems to people with solutions; and (f) Extend your network globally with social media platforms such as Linkedin.com. Emerging leaders and individuals on the fast track understand the benefit of being indispensable to advance their careers and gain a competitive advantage.

Conclusion

Everyone wants to feel needed. Yet, the concept of indispensability goes to the heart of gaining more influence in life. Legendary speaker Dale Carnegie understood the influential attributes of indispensability: “You can make more friends in two months by becoming interested in other people than you can in two years by trying to get other people interested in you.” Therefore, one must be willing to understand the needs of others if he or she hopes to gain this type of influence that will sustain his or her career in the future.  

With millions of people searching for full-time employment, it pays to distinguish yourself from others by building skills that speak to the concept of indispensability.  Individuals need to retool their thinking about indispensability before it is too late.

If the concept of indispensability is the solution for America’s professionals in the future, can today’s unemployed workers capitalize on this attribute?  If yes, how?  

© 2011 by Daryl D. Green

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45 thoughts on “Indispensability for Professionals

  1. We as individuals living in the 21st century have lost the urge to be indispensable. Of course for those individuals it pays to show and learn how they can become indispensable however there remains millions of others who are unemployed and do not believe they have what it takes to stand out among others. False, although more qualified more educated people can prove themselves indispensable faster than others this does not mean others will not be able to. We all began from something small and managed ourselves to become better and bigger. This is how it can be done. According to Martin Lindstorm, he states that “the answer? Is to create your own brand.” He goes on to direct any employees whether working at a supermarket or executive building. Lindstorm’s method might as well be the next job saver, but he also strongly encourages employees to “brand themselves.” For example he says” take two tasks your good at, and combine them during your work day, observe the problem, find a solution, and then make sure to share it.” This not only proves you’re capable of thinking about solutions but also helps showcase your ability to think outside your own realm, which many of us confine ourselves to, once we are comfortable enough, and don’t wish to further grow ourselves. We all strive to be different and better than others, and this being one of the hardest times in our economy we are more inclined to prove ourselves than ever.One last point Lindstorm advises us with “business cards can bore you silly! So mark yourself with a ‘signature’ that people will not be able to get out of their minds.” If one out every 3 or 5 people are able to do this then it is a sure thing to be able and succeed even in the hardest times, as well as bettering yourself from where you are to what you can be. It will only be difficult if we allow ourselves to believe it is. But expert Lindstorm informs us otherwise.

    Martin Lindstorm. (2009, July). How to Be Indispensable at Work.
    Parade Publications, July 12, 2009, Retrieved January 10, 2011,
    http://www.parade.com/news/2009/07/12-how-to-be-indispensable-at-work.html

  2. Workers have to show their bosses that they are an asset to the financial well-being of the company. One way I have found to do this is to become an expert at something. If you are the person who others depend on then you are not expendable. You have carved out a niche for you and you are invaluable. An example is being able to write a computer program for others that would decrease the time necessary to complete a project. Be unique but don’t come across as being self-centered (2).

    Christian Mosley states the importance of providing the employees the resources and products to empower them on a daily basis (1). He goes on to say that if employees aren’t treated well in the company, the products and services of a company no matter how good they are, will never be accepted by the customers.

    Refernces:
    1)
    http://www.articlecontentprovider.com/articlesubmit/Article/The-Indispensability-Of-Workforce-Management-Tools/139354

    2)
    http://www.ehow.com/how_5307015_keep-making-yourself-valuable-work.html

    • Good call.

      I have learned to ask for additional responsibilities so that I can become the “go-to-guy” for specific issues that arise on a regular basis. Anyone and everyone can do this, even to the smallest degree. In my case, I like to find things that everyone is capable of but that no one wants to take the time to learn. I learned this from a friend at an old job I used to work. Eventually, she was given her own department because of the skills she learned while she was there (not kidding).

  3. Unemployed workers can and should capitalize on the concept of indispensability. As a child, The Wizard of Oz was my all time favorite movies. It was not until my adulthood that I realized that the movie characters represent each and every one of us and our desire to be accepted by society by our desire to change our own perceived weaknesses to be cookie cutter images of the in-crowd. We feel that the only only way we could ever be needed /wanted is to change ourselves to down play our individualism in order to diminish our risk of rejection. This notion is completely false; in reality it is our individualism mixed with our education and skill training that helps define our indispensability.
    Just because an individual is out of work does not mean he / she has stopped being indispensable. I blame our society as a whole in that we have created this “reality” life world that is harming future generations based on the fake ideologies it professes. The United States as a whole must return to its basic roots and realize in order to continue to be a world power and be indispensable to the world we as a society must recognize our owns indispensability as a country. It has been said that charity begins at home and for the U.S I think that means working to help discouraged workers by keeping jobs in America, improving education, and stopping the attitude that it’s ok to be mediocre while still patting yourself on the back. Americans also need to get over themselves, while it is true a lot of workers cannot find any work there are some who will not accept jobs because they do not pay enough or because they are not glamorous enough. Charles J. Sykes said it best “Flipping burgers is not below your dignity. Your grandparents had a different name for burger flipping. They called it opportunity” (Sykes, 1995).

    Works Cited
    Sykes, C. J. (1995). Dumbing Down Our Kids: Why American Children Feel Good About Themselves But Can’t Read, Write or Add. New York: St Martin’s Press.

      • Individualism goes hand and hand with indispensability. It is our individualism that helps forms our characteristics that make us indispensable. The problem with Americans is our individualism has developed a major ego. We have become so self-involved we have forgotten to care about others. This is true with regards to the current economic situation. Times are no worse than those of the Great Depression, however during the depression people worried about their neighbors as much as they did themselves. The same can be said for World War II where everyone was in the same boat. Current times have us saying me, me, me and this is damaging to our individualism. Some might say its confidence, however it goes beyond that. To be confident an individual still has compassion, to be arrogant is to lack compassion and lose indispensability.

  4. Like stated above, I believe finding a niche is key. You have to be better at something than your competition. I’ve read a lot of Jeffrey Gitomer’s sales books and articles, and he talks about this topic a good bit. I decided in my business that I wanted to become the “go-to guy” if you will. A problem solver for certain individuals. I’ve done this and continue to do this through active listening. Early on, I wanted people to know how much I knew and how smart I was, so I’d interject all the time. I’d be thinking of solutions and answers before I fully understood the problem. I also found myself forming opinions and making decisions without listening to all of the details. I’ve made a conscious effort to just shut up and focus on what’s being said. It has made a huge difference in my business. I’ve become much more efficient because I completely understand what the customer wants and needs. Customers need me because I understand them. I believe this applies to the employed and unemployed alike.

    Gitomer, Jeffrey. “Good listening skills open doors to closing sales.” The Business Journal- Serving Phoenix & the Valley of the Sun. 2000. Retrieved January 11, 2011 from accessmylibrary: http://www.accessmylibrary.com/article-1G1-62601251/good-listening-skills-open.html

  5. I do believe indispensability is one of the main solutions for America’s professionals and while today’s generation can capitalize on it, they have to be willing to put in the effort. In order for a professional to become indispensible in their organization, they have to be willing to do what no one else is willing to do. The most indispensible person in an organization is the person that will accept whatever task they are assigned and complete it with excellence. Cross-training is critical to becoming indispensible. In our laziness Americans have adopted the mindset of ‘how can I get the most return while doing the least amount of work.’ There is a fine line between being efficient and being lazy. Chinese students have a different mindset than Americans; they are willing to devote everything to the furthering of their education. They realize that a price has to be paid now for a reward that will come later. If Americans can change their mindset, then we will be able to keep jobs from going abroad.

  6. In the workplace, it isn’t a matter of believing you are indispensable, as this only makes you arrogant, it’s a matter of others believing you are indispensable. To make them believe, you must be able to provide them something that is limited and valuable. In today’s world, you are replaceable! There are numerous individuals equally qualified to fill your position. So what can you provide that only few can? The answer, is time.

    Time is our most valuable commodity, as it is limited and has no substitute. By understanding what the value of time means to your managers and colleagues, you can become indispensable. Managers need time to focus on growing the company and increasing profits. They don’t have time to micromanage you on a day to day basis. Thus, you must be able to manage yourself and “take initiative” (Donsky- 2008) in creating your own tasks. Colleagues have their own tasks to complete, therefore the quicker you can help them or the more things you can take off their plate, the more time they will have to perform their jobs well. If you are successful in doing this, when it comes to choosing between you and someone else when layoffs have to occur, you will be seen as someone they can’t lose because by losing you, they lose time.

    Reference:
    Donsky, Seth. July 14, 2008. 10 Ways to Become Indispensable at Work: Tips for Maximizing Your Value in the Workplace. WomansDay.com. http://www.womansday.com/Articles/Money/10-Ways-toBecome-Indispensable-at-Work.html.

      • Time has become a competitive advantage because professional American’s are staying up later and getting up earlier trying to get everything accomplished. The energy drink business is booming! With the economy in a slump workloads have increased rather than decreased as one person is doing the jobs of what was once allocated between 2 or 3 people. They feel over worked and under paid. As a result, work is being completed with mediocre efforts. Mediocre efforts lead to mediocre results and ultimately, closed doors. To shift from mediocre to excellent, companies need individuals who are willing to take on the extra work and put in the extra hours to generate excellent results. They then need those individuals whose workloads have been alleviated to take advantage of the “extra time” you have given them to also generate excellent results. But as others have mentioned, employees are lazy, they don’t want extra work unless there is an immediate reward. This view point has made them dispensable and you, the one willing to take on the work without immediate rewards, indispensable.

        Bottom line, “created time” is a direct result of the willingness to put forth extra effort and with a lazy American workforce, the opportunities are endless!

  7. Indeed, indespensabiltiy is a driving force for today’s professionals and an attribute the unemployed can attain.

    From my previous work-related experiences, I have observed cohorts (and myself included) trying to “bulletproof” his/her postion. Before reaching the next step in a career path, individuals must meet and exceed expectations on all levels. Employees are stepping out of thier comfort zones by asking for more challenges and seriously considering the possbile outcomes of thier decisions. Long gone are the days of “getting by” with minimal job output. If someone is not producing, there are plenty of eager new workers (or coworkers) waiting in the wings.

    Many of the unemployed were, at one time, indespenable. That did not mean that thier compay was not. The unemployed must find creative ways to convey thier importance to potential employers. In todays job market, employers are actively seeking these individuals to replace the mediocre. In fact, there is a fantastic opportunity for companies to build their most skilled workforces to date. Employers realize that there are top prospects available and are willing to “make room” in thier companies if the potential exists.

    References

    Randall, I. (1993). 10 ways to make yourself indispensable at work. Black Enterprise, 23(6), 79. Retrieved from EBSCOhost.

    Messmer, M. (2005). Rebuilding Your Workforce. Strategic Finance, 86(9), 11-12. Retrieved from EBSCOhost.

      • Yes, the concept shows little or no change between the employed and unemployed. Indespensability, in a simple form, is the product of a person’s beneficial actions and decisions. A person who does the right thing and makes the right decisions will become indespensable.
        Attitude is a characteristic that influences the indespensability concept. Employers love employees who have a good attitude. This can help individuals keep thier jobs and help the unemployed find new opportunities. Fishbein and Azjen’s theory of reasoned action suggests people who are confident in thier abilites will actively seek new employment (Van Hooft, 2004). The concept strives on both sides of the spectrum.
        This may be interpreted as an overly optimistic outlook by some, but optimism can be linked to indespensability also.

        References
        Van Hooft, E. J., Born, M. h., Taris, T. W., Van Der Flier, H., & Blonk, R. B. (2004). PREDICTORS OF JOB SEARCH BEHAVIOR AMONG EMPLOYED AND UNEMPLOYED PEOPLE. Personnel Psychology, 57(1), 25-59. Retrieved from EBSCOhost.

  8. In agreement with all the previously made points, being indispensable is really crucial in maintaining a position in any professional or social network. Think about why your best friends stick around. You offer them something no one else can: security, trust, love, etc. It takes time to build these ties but once forged they are difficult to break. I think the same concept can be applied to the working world. Of course your employer is not looking for love from his employees, but their respect is crucial. He wants to trust them, be able to depend on them, and know that the work and money he’s poured into them is not wasted. Americans have little respect for their employers and even less for their jobs. They job-hop and take risks all with the mindset of “If I cross the line, I can always find another job.” While we want to be indispensable, we aren’t willing to act the part. Therefore, employees must work on not the self-oriented method of building themselves and their specific role up, but instead, work on building up their employer and making themselves a necessary piece in their employers cause.

  9. Indispensible professionals are difficult to identify. The obvious definition of indispensable indicates the individual is necessary to maintain productive core competencies. However, this loose definition would lead one to buy into a concept that may be falsely termed ‘job security’. In this economy, there is no such thing as job security. Many small businesses released numerous “indispensible” individuals over the last 3.5 years. As a former employer I can assure you that there were several individuals whose release concerned me in multiple realms; sphere of influence and individual value added.

    I believe to be considered an indispensible asset may be difficult to demonstrate in this market. The workforce is in dynamic flux. Within that flux, in theory, the cream of the crop are functioning, or at least should be; with exception of our government and other municipal positions. In theory, employers retained the best. That being said, it will be difficult for those seeking employment to get a foot in the door. It should be noted that the money never really disappeared, or even really dried up; it was simply being spent in different markets. Individuals seeking gainful employment should be identifying these markets for a greater chance of success.

    I do not believe indispensability is the key for the unemployed to become employed. In my opinion, innovation will create more opportunity for income and hire.

  10. Indispensability is a solution for America’s professionals going forward. It is way to stand out and become an essential member of the organization. Too often, people do the least amount of work required to get by on a daily basis. Many unemployed Americans are discouraged and fear they will not be able to find another job. According to Christopher Rugaber, “the nation’s unemployment rate dropped to 9.4% last month because more people found jobs, but also because some people gave up on their job searches.” Many people feel giving up is better than accepting the current opportunities available in the job market. These opportunities could lead to bigger and better things in the future.

    Reference
    Rugaber, Christopher S. 2010. Unemployment Falls to 9.4%, Hiring Up. Time Magazine, January 7, 2010. Retrieved January 14, 2011, http://www.time.com/time/business/article/0,8599,2041216,00.html.

  11. Indispensability is definitely an attribute that individuals need to strive for in the business realm, particularly in the Nonprofit sector. Most Nonprofit organizations do not have the resources to hire multiple employees to complete the necessary tasks that a Nonprofit requires; therefore it is necessary for employees to become well versed in many different areas of the organization. Amber is correct in saying that cross-training becomes imperative for the survival of a Nonprofit. If workers are indispensable (reliable, relevant and resourceful), then the likelihood of unemployment becomes smaller and in its place comes success. We shouldn’t provide our employers with reasons to fire us.

    Being indispensable does not stop at the individual worker, but has to carry over to the customers. If the worker cares more for their own wellbeing and not the customer’s satisfaction, then the organization will lose business, thereby losing their reason for existing. Workers always have to know what the customer is looking for so they can find the areas that need improvement in the organization. If your company is forgettable, lacking in customer service and not providing a better service then the “next guy”, then organization need to ask themselves why they are in business.

  12. In the current market conditions, an individual must be able to “market” themselves in order for a company to view them as an indispensable employee. I agree with many of the postings from my fellow classmates that indispensability is very important or crucial to an individual’s survival in the workforce of today. As important as it is for a company to market themselves and gain competitive advantage in order to succeed as a company, it is equally if not more important an individual or an employee demonstrate their value to their employer. Mark Scott in his article, “Bullet proof: how to make yourself indispensable”, provides a basis for what can make an employee or individual indispensable. This article uses the five forces model of competitive advantage to explain how a person should select “differentiation” over the “low cost” method to market themselves as indispensable to an employer (Scott, 242). I believe this is a highly effective manner of becoming indispensable in the economic environment of today’s business. An individual, whether employed or unemployed, can seek to stand out in their company or in the search for employment. This can be done through increasing job skills, education, or volunteering. This can also provide means of networking and demonstrating to an employer or potential employer your uniqueness and abilities that you possess that will benefit the overall company. By constantly and consistently reevaluated the position of your own competitive advantage, you as an individual can stand out among your other coworkers.

    Many of these concepts have been useful in my own place of employment in recent years. In 2008, we faced layoffs as our company struggled to maintain profits in the fledging housing market. Our department, the retail division accounting group, coped with the loss of one of our team members to the round of layoffs. Unfortunately this individual was indispensable because of his time period in our group and not solely on his job skills. The controller of this division, my boss, set forth at this time to try to make our department indispensable for the overall division after the layoffs. She did this through an overabundance of work assignments. While not the most effective method of being indispensable it did work to keep our department with all current staff members. She, however, did not anticipate her own position being viewed as indispensable. Two months ago, she was told they were eliminating her position at the end of the year. Many of her own methods of individual differentiation for the company did provide for her a movement to a different department of the company. These are the challenges that many individuals and companies are facing today. An individual must seek to become indispensable for the company. They can accomplish this through additional education, job training and seeking to go above and beyond what is required in his or her job requirements and through cross-training. This is beneficial for the individual and for the company. This can provide individuals with the abilities to perform other duties and provide the company with more than one employee who can complete a required task. Indispensability is vital to individuals and will be more prevalent in the years to come in companies as they seek to find the most “qualified” individual for a particular job.

    Mark C. Scott. (2003) Bullet proof: How to make yourself indispensable. Career Development International. 8(5). 241-246. Retrieved January 14, 2011, from ProQuest Education Journals.

  13. When we refer to “the solution for America’s professionals in the future” we are assuming an implied problem that has a complexity equal to its solution. Though some may argue with my understanding, I see the problem only as complications as that which solves it. And though for some individuals there may be one key element, such as indispensability, that can help them through their unique problem, I see the larger problem of our national unemployment as much broader and multi-faceted.

    Indeed, for some indispensability is the problem. If the employer needs to increase profit margin, the particular reason aside, and an employee who is dispensable costs more than what his replacement would cost, then it is logically understandable that the employer would seek to increase his ROI with that particular position by eliminating or replacing the current employee.

    I would like to propose that indispensability is definately one tool that all employees, businesses, and organizations could benefit from and enjoy the security of. At the same time however, indispensability is not a simple “magic bullet” that would be the one and only “solution for America’s professionals in the future.”

  14. I agree that today’s unemployed workers can capitalize on the concept of indispensability, but in order to become indispensable, one must be willing to invest time into a company. Eilene Zimmerman wrote in Making Yourself Indispensable, one can ensure being a valuable contributor by, “suggesting ways to solve problems, taking the initiative on projects, sharpening your skills and showing a willingness to help others.” If an organization notices an employee or prospect employee taking initiative to make a difference, the worker will become a valuable asset. This process takes time and a lot of work. Although education is important, many people with just bachelor’s degrees find employment as hard to come by as the non-educated population.

    I agree with Kivi Miller’s quote cited earlier in the blog, stating the importance of listening to the customers. If an unemployed worker wants to become indispensable, it is important to listen to the customer and the company. Instead of just finding problems, one must become a liaison between both the customer and solutions and the company and solutions.

    Reference:
    Zimmerman, Eilene. (2010). Making Yourself Indispensable. Retrieved January 16,
    2011, .

  15. I do not believe that the upcoming working class truly understands how this idea of indispensability manifests in a business. Our society somehow teaches us that we are all inherently valuable to our employers. However, as employees, we really should be aware of just how replaceable we are. Do we try to see the company’s overall goal or are we just doing what is expected? Do we mindlessly follow the procedure in place or do we try to think of ways to streamline the process? A former manager once told me that to set yourself apart from the rest of your colleagues, you must first learn how your position affects the business. Then, attempt to understand how other operations work with yours. It’s obtaining this understanding and starting to look at ways to improve it and add value, along with doing what is expected that begins to make a person indispensable. Those are the types of qualities that cannot be replaced.

  16. Being indispensable to a company is an excellent goal, but what exactly does it mean to be indispensable to an employer. The first thing that has to be asked is what the goal of the employer is.

    Is it Bridgestone’s goal to put out safe tires that will save the lives of its customers on the road? Is it the goal of Macdonald’s to feed a hungry nation to keep it moving? Does Arm and Hammer want to create the greatest baking soda for cooking and to keep refrigerators sanitary and fresh?

    The answer to all these questions is no. Their goal, and the goal of businesses around the world, is to make a profit.

    Of course, they need to put out safe, quality products, and in so doing, they need to see to the safety of their employees simultaneously. In order for an individual to be indispensable to a company, his goal must be to insure that he is profitable to his employer.

    This can only be achieved if the individual has a single mindset in making himself indispensable to the employer. That he was created for that job and that he is going to make more profit for his employer than anyone else. While he shows his employer that he is indispensable through his motivations and continually improving skill sets (i.e. experience, and education), he must also keep in mind that the employer is more indispensable than himself.

  17. If an individual has a lot of different important skills that can be used in a workplace, they are more valuable than the individual that has only one skill. In this world, it seems as if people have values placed upon them, and the only way to improve one’s value is to learn more skills.

    Imagine a circus. It’s a business that thrives off of talent. If one person can juggle, train tigers, walk the tight rope, and do a bunch of other things, isn’t that individual a lot more valuable than an individual that can do only one of those things.

    In the business world, companies thrive off of individuals with talent, skill, and knowledge. Unemployed workers can use this knowledge by becoming indispensable. Individuals must be able to understand their talents, skills, and knowledge. In listening to the employers, the individual will understand the need, and in understanding the need, they may work on gaining the skills needed to fill the need, and in doing so, they will become valuable in the eyes of the employer, and they will listen to the individual because of the skill the individual has to offer them.

    I also believe that hard work and the motivation to improve will slowly build any individual up. If one truly wants to constantly improve and become better for the sake of the company, they will learn skills and improve others and little by little, become that indispensable person. The desire to improve will definitely push an individual into becoming indispensable, while being content with one’s self may actually be in the long run not such a good thing. If being who you are does not work, strive to be better.

  18. I agree that the above comments are exactly how indispensability plays a large importance in nonprofits, businesses and many other important entities of life. I think the bottom line to indispensability is honestly putting others’ before oneself. Despite how easy it is to write this cliché, indispensability requires that the person pursues the goal of the company and the need of the constituent and willingly puts in the extra work that would be required to do so. Dr. Green had commented earlier about having a servant attitude and I feel that is the heart of indispensability. I think that having this attitude includes becoming more interested in how the company can prosper and become impactful more so than how the individual can prosper and become the impacting one.
    An example that I thought of was how a company that I used to work for abided by the motto that “the customer is always right.” An employee’s goal everyday to make sure the customer went away happier than when they came in. I feel that if everyone abided by this mantra in their workplace then people and companies would become a lot more indispensable and more appealing than they already are.

  19. Although at first consideration, it seems natural and logical to express agreement with the overwhelming majority of responses above (that employees can and should capitalize on the asset of indispensability to increase their prospect of gaining employment), I wonder how negatively an employee affects their company by valuing individual skill and performance so highly. I will go as far to say that an unemployed person searching for work certainly should pursue a greater skill set and perhaps rethink their value in their workplace, but as that person transitions back into working, their focus should shift dramatically.

    Networking, collaboration, relationship building – such are the skills I believe are needed most in workers of today, even above indispensability. Consider the meaning of indispensable: essential, absolutely necessary, vital… although it may sound as if possessing an employee of this quality would not only help fulfill a company’s bottom line or mission, there are significant negative effects, personally and professionally.

    -If one becomes so indispensable to a company that it is unthinkable to lose you, it is also unthinkable to replace you- leaving promotion out of the picture. Training becomes a nightmare to replace someone who has dedicated their professional life to becoming indispensable alone.

    -Similarly, indispensability can affect the well-being of the company. When the indispensable employee becomes ill, finds a better suited career, needs time off, the company suffers and is left without valuable resources. This leads to emotional stress on the employee and though a continual feeling of being needed may be fulfilling, it quickly becomes exhausting and emotionally unhealthy.

    This leads to another question: if indispensable qualities are the solution to the unemployed finding employment, what is the solution for the employed hoping to secure their employment? I say it is a different type of indispensability. Rather than extreme cross training and overworking oneself to become a super hero employee your company can’t live without, become the employee whose connections are indispensable. This is where networking, collaborative skills and relationships come in. The differences, though subtle, are imperative to the health of your company:
    -If one is well-respected and well-known by others in the company, working together comes naturally. This provides a better experience and results for the client, who now not only has one working on their needs, but a group of talented people who are consistently learning from each other. Additionally, strong relationship skills lead to an ability to effectively communicate clients’ needs to your team, which fosters a better understanding of clients as a whole.

    -Customer service ratings soar for those who listen and focus on the client. When customer service ratings soar, interest in the company and eventually profit do as well.

    So, which would you rather be? The employee who absolutely cannot be lost out of fear or the employee who not only brings indispensable skills to the team but who also spreads his or her skills to others within the company through their relationships, team building and connectedness? Indispensability should not necessarily be treated as an end, a goal, a finish line, but instead, as a means to improving not only yourself as a worker, but your co-workers and company as a whole. If in the nonprofit sector we seek to work for the good of our community above all else, it naturally fits that we would use our indispensability for the good of others as well.

  20. I would say indispensability is more of a precautionary step than a revolutionary one. For those who have jobs in danger of being eliminated, being indispensable is valuable Working hard, not for yourself but for your customer, for your employer, and having a servants attitude will set you apart in the workplace. An employee who knows how to put their constituents and the company before themselves is sure to have a higher satisfaction rating, as well as a pleased boss. In addition to becoming indispensable to a company, a great employee must also become indispensable to their customers. If your company loves you but your customers can live without you, then, though you are indispensable while there are customers, once there are no customers, you become dispensable to the company.

    In today’s job market, being indispensable is a great way to start, but I’m afraid that it may not be enough to save you single handedly. No matter what your job is, employers are looking for people who do twice the work for half the pay. The best thing you can do, is always strive to be better, and be prepared.

    • Brandy,

      Well…your comments were revolutionary: “If your company loves you but your customers can live without you, then, though you are indispensable while there are customers, once there are no customers, you become dispensable to the company.”

      Outstanding!

  21. We have to take personal responsibility in acquiring employment, regardless of how bad it hurts to change our entire career path. I don’t know about you all, but if I were smart enough to graduate as a physicist, I sure as heck would be smart enough to find something else to do until I found a company who needed me for my expertise, rather than remain unemployed for “years”.

    In my opinion, as students, one of the most important things that we have to accept is that whatever field or industry we choose to invest our education in, we have to continually educate ourselves outside of our ‘expertise’ as a means of being prepared to lose our jobs. After all, the broader our skill set, the more indispensable we become to our current employers, and the more desirable we become to other employers, giving us more and potentially greater opportunities, and allowing us to interview the employer rather than the other way around.

  22. After reading this posting and the comments along with it, I must say that I am in agreement that there is a problem yet there are viable solutions. None of these solutions proposed alone can rectify the situation our professionals and employment landscape finds itself in. It is a combination of many driving factors that lead to people not measuring up to the bar companies set in determining an employee’s indispensability. Therefore I believe it requires a well-rounded combination of assets possessed by the employee to make an employer stop and say, “we can’t afford to lose this person, they bring to much to the table and we benefit greatly from them.” Utility and efficiency come to mind when thinking about an employee that I would not want to let go. If a person saves my company time and money, I wouldn’t wanna let them go. They equal profit margin. If a person has multiple skills and tools and can accomplish numerous task by themselves, therefore requiring less time and money used. They equal profit margin.

  23. We as individuals living in the 21st century have lost the urge to be indispensable. We all began from something small and managed ourselves to become better and bigger. This is how it can be done. According to Martin Lindstorm, he states that “the answer? Is to create your own brand.” He goes on to direct any employees whether working at a supermarket or executive building. Lindstorm’s method might as well be the next job saver, but he also strongly encourages employees to “brand themselves.” For example he says” take two tasks your good at, and combine them during your work day, observe the problem, find a solution, and then make sure to share it.” This not only proves you’re capable of thinking about solutions but also helps showcase your ability to think outside your own realm. One last point Lindstorm advises us with “business cards can bore you silly!” If one out every 3 or 5 people are able to do this then it is a sure thing to be able and succeed even in the hardest times.

    Martin Lindstorm. (2009, July). How to Be Indispensable at Work.
    Parade Publications, July 12, 2009, Retrieved January 10, 2011,
    http://www.parade.com/news/2009/07/12-how-to-be-indispensable-at-work.html

  24. In the current market conditions, an individual must be able to “market” themselves in order for a company to view them as an indispensable employee. In the same way a company seeks to gain competitive advantage, it is equally important an individual or an employee demonstrate their value to their employer. Mark Scott in his article, “Bullet proof: how to make yourself indispensable”, provides a basis for indispensability. This article uses the five forces model to explain how a person should select “differentiation” over the “low cost” method to market themselves indispensable to an employer (Scott, 242). An individual, whether employed or unemployed, can seek to stand out in their company or in the search for employment. This can be done through increasing job skills, education, or volunteering. This can also provide means of networking and demonstrating to an employer or potential employer your uniqueness and abilities that you posses. By constantly and consistently reevaluated the position of your own competitive advantage, you as an individual can stand out in the crowd.

    Mark C. Scott. (2003) Bullet proof: How to make yourself indispensable. Career Development International. 8(5). 241-246. Retrieved January 14, 2011, from ProQuest Education Journals.

  25. From my previous work-related experiences, I have observed cohorts (and myself included) trying to “bulletproof” his/her postion. Before reaching the next step in a career path, individuals must meet and exceed expectations on all levels. Employees are stepping out of thier comfort zones by asking for more challenges and seriously considering the possbile outcomes of thier decisions. Long gone are the days of “getting by” with minimal job output. If someone is not producing, there are plenty of eager new workers (or coworkers) waiting in the wings.
    Many of the unemployed were, at one time, indespenable. That did not mean the compay was not. The unemployed must find creative ways to convey thier importance to potential employers. In today’s job market, employers actively seek these individuals to replace the mediocre. In fact, there is a fantastic opportunity for companies to build their most skilled workforces to date. Employers realize that there are top prospects available and are willing to “make room” in thier companies if the potential exists.
    References
    Randall, I. (1993). 10 ways to make yourself indispensable at work. Black Enterprise, 23(6), 79. Retrieved from EBSCOhost.
    Messmer, M. (2005). Rebuilding Your Workforce. Strategic Finance, 86(9), 11-12. Retrieved from EBSCOhost.

  26. I think that a IT person for a company that is on the cutting edge of technology could fall in the category of an indispensable employee. Or someone in marketing that really understands and is in touch with the cultural values and needs of the target market that you are marketing too. According to Frederick A Starke, Bruno Dyck, Michael K Mauws “employees are seen as indispensable when they possess knowledge and skills that cannot be found elsewhere in the organization. Managers in all kinds of organizations routinely worry that the knowledge and skills of an indispensable employee might be lost from the organization. It is assumed that the loss of an indispensable employee will result in the loss of that person’s valuable knowledge and that this will have a negative effect on organizational productivity.” (Starke, Dyck,Mauws. 2003). An employee should understand the value of gaining and attaining knowledge that will make themselves indispensable.
    Frederick A Starke, Bruno Dyck, & Michael K Mauws. (2003). Coping with the sudden loss of an indispensable employee: An exploratory case study. The Journal of Applied Behavioral Science, 39(2), 208. Retrieved January 30, 2011, from ABI/INFORM Global. (Document ID: 377944781).

  27. A recent Bloomberg Businessweek Article discusses key traits to create personal power in the workplace. First to gain credibility it is critical to set your personal development bar high. When you aren’t challenged in your professional life, “you won’t learn how to make an argument, win people over to your side, or end up on the losing side of a question with grace.” (Ryan, 2008). These types of work experiences are how people development credibility. The next step to develop credibility is to create work-life balance. Many people feel that the fast track to the top of corporate America is only achieved by giving up their nights and weekends. The key to gaining credibility in the workplace is the ability to work hard and then make a point of taking some time off to have a life outside of the office. And finally you must realize that you won’t always be liked as sometimes a good business decision is not the popular decision. Many leaders spend countless hours trying to ensure that everyone likes them, when they really must show their true selves.

    Ryan, L. (2008). Building your power from the inside out. Bloomberg Businessweek. Retrieved from: http://www.businessweek.com/managing/content/jun2008/ca20080626_834731.htm

  28. I am under the persuasion that we all live under the rein of one King. If this is true, we know what we are called to – service, service one to another. Sadly, a view such as this leads us to the fundamental recognition of the disparity between the way things are and the way they should be. Yet, it is this circumstance that renders opportunity.

    The very realm in which business operates is based upon the concept of service. Is this not what we buy, sale, and trade? Thus, quite naturally, those who choose to lead through service will become successful. It is inevitable, and it follows that the greater you become at serving others, the more indispensable your services become. The people who personify this concept are the ones that demonstrate the way it should be. Unfortunately, there is a shortage of individuals with this mentality and, therefore, “the need for servant leadership has never been more urgent” (Norman & Grizzell, 2010, p.16). Let us answer the calling and see where it takes us, shall we?

    Reference
    Burrell, D., & Grizzell, B. C. (2010). Do You Have the Skills of a Servant-Leader?. Nonprofit World, 28(6), 16.

  29. I do not believe that the upcoming working class truly understands how this idea of indispensability manifests in a business. Our society somehow teaches us that we are all inherently valuable to our employers. However, as employees, we really should be aware of just how replaceable we are. Do we try to see the company’s overall goal or are we just doing what is expected? Do we mindlessly follow the procedure in place or do we try to think of ways to streamline the process? A former manager once told me that to set yourself apart from the rest of your colleagues, you must first learn how your position affects the business. Then, attempt to understand how other operations work with yours. It’s obtaining this understanding and starting to look at ways to improve it and add value, along with doing what is expected that begins to make a person indispensable. Those are the types of qualities that cannot be replaced.

    References:

    Burks, F. (n.d.). How to Make Yourself Indispensable at Work | eHow.com. eHow | how to videos, articles & more – trusted advice for the curious life | eHow.com. Retrieved April 20, 2011, from http://www.ehow.com/how_4531882_make-yourself-indispensable-work.html

  30. If Darwin’s Theory of Natural Selection is true, then the unemployed would seemingly be out of luck since it would be assumed that they would not be able to compete or survive among others seeking employment in the marketplace.

    However, if one instead views the glass as half full, then the unemployed should take full advantage of the idea of indispensability. The challenge then is finding the trait that makes the unemployed “indispensible” and being able to effectively market his or herself and be able to demonstrate it.

    Identifying a truly indispensable characteristic should be difficult since it is not something that just anyone could offer to an organization. Therefore, when considering traits that add value to an organization, one should take an inventory of his/her strengths and look for those that are unique. When applying for jobs, the unemployed should tailor his/her “indispensable” trait(s) to the specific job that he/she is seeking employment.

    Finding an indispensable trait and being able to communicate the value to a potential employer will help candidates stand apart from others seeking the same job.

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