The Power of Gratitude for Professionals

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I watched people get on and off the elevator at work. It was crowded with working professionals. Being a young employee, I and the janitor were strategically located in the back of the elevator. I greeted the janitor since I routinely would speak to all employees, regardless of their pecking order in the organization. Other professionals ignored this janitor in the elevator as if his existence didn’t matter. When the janitor or other service folks would do something for me, I would say ‘thank you.’ Well, I’ve done this act of gratitude as part of my learning from my parents who were hardworking class people. My mother would tell us (children): “You can’t go wrong doing good for others.” I believed her.

Yet, we live in a selfish world where the needs for themselves supersede the needs of others, with gratitude and thanks being a rare commodity in today’s working culture. When I talk with my college students, I attempt to show them how the little things like ‘thank you’ cards to guest speakers in class is more than a cute idea. For me, gratitude is a connection with humanity. Gratitude shows that you care. In fact, those individuals that master this act of kindness will have a competitor advantage over those who do not practice this virtue. Let’s examine the concept of gratitude for today’s working professionals in society.

Professionals must overcome a world of selfishness in order to appreciate gratitude. Employees face a gloomy landscape before them with global competition reducing their standard of life and wages stagnant. People aren’t feeling thankful and grateful to be moving backward to the standard of living that their own parents had. Statistics support this ingratitude emerging before us. According to a 2014 Conference Board Job Satisfaction survey, the majority (52%) of US workers are not satisfied with their jobs. In 2010, worker dissatisfaction was at an all-time low of 43%.

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Marketing students (MKTG 3303) take photo with Enterprise Manager Jackie Lovejoy. The students thanked her.

Columnist Susan Adams has been tracking this unhappiness trend: “What worries workers most: layoffs. Even though hiring has picked up, only 46.6% of employees say they feel satisfied with their job security, compared to 48.5% before the recession.” Working professionals have many stressors to consider including layoffs, family issues, health care cost, career advancements, and wage compensation. How in the world can gratitude be at the top of their list for developing?

Gratitude is an invaluable trait in a world built of self-promotion and personal gratification. President John F. Kennedy said, “As we express our gratitude, we must never forget that the highest appreciation is not to utter words, but to live by them.” Management expert Brian Tracy further expounded on this concept of gratitude: “Develop an attitude of gratitude, and give thanks for everything that happens to you, knowing that every step forward is a step towards achieving something bigger and better than your current situation.”

Gratitude can be defined as ‘the quality of being thankful; readiness to show appreciation for and to return kindness.” Some people will argue that gratitude is rooted in biblical truths and communal relationships in society. From a faith perspective, gratitude is not taking. It is about giving to others despite how others have treated you.

II Corinthians 9:11 reads “You will be enriched in every way so that you can be generous on every occasion, and through us your generosity will result in thanksgiving to God.” Even if you don’t possess a religious bone in your body, showing individuals appreciation who do good for you can’t be foreign. Yet, the concept of gratitude is difficult to implement in the face of trials and tribulations in life. If people are able to look at others who are in a worse situation and appreciate the fact that they are better off, it is possible for gratitude to grow in people. Given the fact that gratitude is connected to relationships, words like gratitude, giving, and thanks are themes of helping and appreciating others in life.

Unfortunately, developing gratitude in working professionals is a difficult task. Many organizations are built on power structures that reward takers and those individuals who are great at putting situations at their own advantage. Most of who are only vaguely interested in recognizing or thanking others if doing these actions will benefit them professionally.

Some business-oriented individuals may argue that this gratitude characteristic is a weakness in a corporate rat race and that takers are at the advantage. In contrast, Dr. Adam Grant, author of Give and Take: Why Helping Others Drive Our Success, explains the different mentality of givers and takers in the workforce: “Takers have distinctive signature: they like to get more than they give. They tilt reciprocity in their own favor, putting their own interest ahead of other’s needs…If you are a giver, you might use a different cost-benefit analysis; you help whenever the benefits to others exceed personal cost.”

Dr. Grant’s research further demonstrated that givers are more successful in the long-run. Helping others provide leverage and influence in life. Givers are better at giving than takers because of their genuineness in striving to be generous in their time, energy, skills, knowledge, and connections to benefit others. How do I grow my gratitude in my life? That’s a great question to consider.

Unless it’s Thanksgiving or a special occasion, most professionals will not consider the merits of gratitude in helping them in life. This article demonstrated that employees are unhappy in the workplace and face many hardships in life that causes them to look inside themselves instead of helping others. Gratitude is a soft skill that has a positive effect on others.

Even celebrities like Marilyn Monroe realized the importance of gratitude: “When you have a good friend that really cares for you and tries to stick in there with you, you treat them like nothing. Learn to be a good friend because one day you’re gonna look up and say I lost a good friend…Always remember to smile and look up at what you got in life.” Life is a like a blade of grass that passes with time. Gratitude is something that you can use for a lifetime. Don’t wait until it’s too late.

© 2016 by Daryl D. Green

Grit in Effective Leadership

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As the U.S. presidential election goes into full swing following both major conventions, voters will be considering which candidate will serve best as the nation’s leader.  This decision is not an easy one, as both Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton have some of the worst favorability ratings in history.  Ideally, voters should be thinking about candidates’ character traits, but most will prioritize self-interest and vote based on their pocketbooks.  Media pundits will analyze every insignificant point as if it is…well, significant.  In the face of global terrorism and financial uncertainty, what character trait genuinely sets a successful leader apart?  Problems will arise.  Trouble will come, and leaders who possess intrinsic drive will have the highest chance of overcoming obstacles and external factors in their environment.  We will examines the nature of grit for leaders caught in today’s chaotic world.

Effective leaders have a special quality called “grit,” which refers to a drive to overcome all sorts of hurdles.  People define grit in various ways: according to Gostrengths.com, grit is “a personality trait possessed by individuals who demonstrate passion and perseverance toward a goal despite being confronted by significant obstacles and distractions.”  Along similar lines, blogger AJ Julian wrote an article on grit in education in which he shared an outstanding acronym: Guts, Resilience, Integrity, Tenacity.[1]

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Better Decision Making for a Better Life

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Have you ever wondered why some people continue to make bad decisions? You see million-dollar celebrities doing it. You can see this action in government officials and business leaders. There are no discriminators. From the very rich to the poorest of the poor, we see people caught in a vicious cycle of bad decision making. Sadly, we see it much closer than that. We witness relatives making those bad decisions. Despite all the wise counsel, the poor decisions continue.

 Why is it important to teach people how to make better decisions? Anthony Robbins, author of Awakening the Giant Within, attributes good decision-making as a key attribute to a happy life. Bestselling author Brian Tracy argues, “The further you think into the future, the better decisions you will make in the present to assure that future becomes a reality.” Making better decisions improves the quality of one’s life.

 

As a young advisor and college professor, I constantly hear students proclaim, “I’m grown.” This statement implies I don’t have to listen to anyone. I know best. Therefore, I can make my own decisions. Through series after series of bad decisions, the youth continues on merry ride of worsening consequences. Two things generally can stop this dead-end trap.

One lies in becoming more mature with age, and the other is experience. In going through a series of bad decisions, a wise person gains insight on the consequences of a bad decision. Every person, regardless of their background or social standing, can benefit from good decision-making techniques. Here are some methods to use: (a) define the problem or issues, (b) conduct research on the matter, (c) discuss with respected individuals with similar circumstances, (d) consider at least two alternatives, (e) select best decisions, based on your value system, and (f) move on and accept any consequences.

Making the right decision is a difficult process. No one will usually applaud your many good decisions; however, you will probably catch heat over the bad ones. Les Brown, author of How to Become the Person You Always Wanted to Be-No Matter What the Obstacle, explains, “Your values are not set by government or church leaders. Your values give you consistency in the way you approach life…By holding to your beliefs, you can always stay on track toward your dreams.”  By making better decisions, individuals can look forward to a better quality of live.

 

© 2014 by Daryl D. Green

 

Scientific Management in Organizations

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Scientific management has many advantages for today’s organizations, including a systematic approach. Fredrick Taylor is credited with being the Father of Scientific Management. He transformed the Industrial Revolution. In fact, this approach brought a lot of productivity. However, the difficulty with Scientific Management is that it requires sales managers to select employees that fit the job and train them effectively. Additionally, it increases the monotony of work. This reality could cause some salespeople to be uninspired in their jobs. 

Whereas the Scientific Management approach was a focus on tasks, the Behavioral Management approach was a focus on people. Historically, Fredrick Taylor didn’t disregard the importance of workers. In fact, the study of behavioral science and organizational behavior resulted from a criticism of the human relations approach as ‘simplistic’ and ‘manipulative’ in addressing the relationship between worker attitudes and productivity. Therefore, each management approach has its weakness.

Yet, Scientific Management has a lot of drawbacks if you want to build personal relationships with people. One of the sticky points about Scientific Management is its impersonal approach to managing people. People are a resource, but not machines. There are several other issues associated with this classical approach of managing workers, which include: (a) heavy reliance on experience and unproved assumptions, (c) failure to consider informal operations, and (d) operations assumed under static conditions. 

There are no magical bullets when you are dealing with employees as human beings. The Scientific Management approach was built on the shoulders of the Industrial Revolution. Behavioral Management followed suit later. Both approaches have their shortcomings. I suggest taking the best from both worlds. Some aspects of Scientific Management can be used to further develop and standardize an organization’s operations. Employees then understand what’s expected of them. 

With the Behavioral Management approach, sales managers can push performance by understanding what motivates each employee intimately. Quality expert George Peeler argues that the task of personalizing and communicating product value through interactive discussion is the task of the sales organization. Therefore, the best scenario would be to use all of the best management practices, including Scientific Management and Behavioral Management, for enhanced relationship customer relationships.

  Organizations may look to a Theory Y environment for creating the right manager’s mentality that builds trust in people to do the right things. When managers demonstrate they believe in their people and set clear expectations, most individuals will work harder. Management expert Stephen Covey explains that having trust fosters confidence. Salespeople are then motivated to go the extra mile for the organization (i.e. work longer hours, work harder, etc.). Therefore, Scientific Management has its own share of problems when discussing relationship selling.

Please discuss application of this topic in your organization and industry.

 

© 2014 by Daryl D. Green

Guest Blogger – Jalene Nemec

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Have you ever had an unpleasant experience related to customer service, perhaps at a home improvement store or with your local cable company? How did that experience affect your overall impression of the company? Were you encouraged to take your business elsewhere?

As a consumer during hard economic times, you want to spend your money where you feel valued. You want to interact with associates who are friendly, knowledgeable about their business and who want to help you. Unfortunately, many companies today have allowed their customer service to become nearly extinct. Furthermore, they have failed to provide recognition to their employees for a job well done. Businesses once understood that by valuing all employees that company’s success would continue.

Employees felt responsibility for their actions because they felt respect, value, and self-worth. The businesses strived for continuous improvement. Employees were loyal to these companies and retired with them. In recent times, employees feel less and less appreciated.

They don’t feel important to their employers. As a result, they have made a conscious decision to stop caring about elements such as customer service. Workers have lost faith that they will be able to climb the professional ladder, leaving almost zero incentive to stay with the same company.

Instead, employees move up in their career by increasingly changing jobs and switching companies. Everyone is negatively affected by this cycle. In lieu of progressing, businesses resemble a wheel spinning in mud. Companies receive mediocre staff support, employees give poor customer service, clients purchase less, businesses see reduced profits, and employees get hit with layoffs, pay cuts, and poor benefits.

The customer service aspect of these companies has seen the most drastic decline. It has been carelessly devalued. Contrary to popular belief, customer service is not just about solving problems. It is about being the “face of the company.”

Managers have further endangered the myth of customer service by outsourcing client support to low-cost countries. They have eliminated receptionists and replaced them with recordings. They have almost entirely erased the need for training.

Finally, to show efforts that they still care about their customer service performance, the same businesses continue to send out surveys. Many clients not only consider the surveys annoying, but the company fails to make them worthwhile by ignoring complaints. All of this is done in an effort to save money.

Businesses today must change this mindset if they want to grow their business successfully. In my book titled “Great Customer Service: The Definitive Handbook for Today’s Successful Businesses” and co-authored by Dr. Green, I focus on five key characteristics that together lead to good customer service. Those characteristics are attitude, awareness, accountability, action and affability (friendliness).

For a company to improve their customer service they must accept change. Change begins with the right attitude. Before a company can change their customer service, they must establish a mission to provide quality service. Furthermore, the company should be aware of the current state of the service they provide.

Change cannot be made without understanding the situation at hand. A business may question, has there been a noticeable decline in sales? If so, could it be a result of the customer service?

The best way to kick-start change is to hold employees and managers accountable. Without effectively maintaining accountability for everyone involved, people will not see a reason to change their behavior and the business will suffer. Holding personnel accountable is the first part of taking action. Unless a company makes a conscious decision to actively improve, change will be temporary or non-existent.

Finally, the last characteristic is affability. It seems like a minor detail, but consider some of your past consumer experiences? There were probably a few instances where an employee helped you in an “I have to” way, and there were times where you were helped in an “I want to” way. The latter is much better.

Throughout the book, I also focus on how to build a more profitable business, how to increase good sustainable customer service, how to inspire workers toward greater organizational performance, and how to inspire today’s demanding customers. 

While I could continue on about how these five characteristics impact the other topics covered in my book, I would rather hear from you. As consumers, professionals and MBA students, use what you have experienced and learned to explain how you believe these characteristics impact profitability, sustainability, performance and inspiration. There are no perfect answers. Good customer service is not necessarily cut and dry, it is all in the eye of the beholder!

Please share your thoughts on this topic. 

About the Guest Blogger

Jalene Nemec, author and industry expert

Jalene Nemec, MBA, is the author of the upcoming book, Great Customer Service. She is also one of the brightest business thinkers in the world, having both extensive customer service and leadership experience.  She is a former Lincoln Memorial University MBA graduate.

Sustaining Ethical Behavior

Americans are increasingly worried and cynical of today’s leaders. Traditional institutions are losing favor, leaving citizens unable to trust their neighbors, churches, and government.

Additionally, America has a history of unethical behavior by leaders. The private sector has been riddled with tons of examples (i.e. Enron, Exxon, etc.) of unethical behavior on Wall Street. Furthermore, political parties market family values and personal integrity like they are selling used automobiles.

In the quest for power and their own personal ambition, many government officials have been drawn to deadly vices that have led to their personal self-destruction. Graham Tomblin, The Seven Deadly Sins, notes this natural selfish behavior has destroyed families, friendships, happiness, and peace of mind.

These moral break downs can seep into other factions of the political landscape. For example, in 1998, the media reported the sexual exploits of Democratic President Bill Clinton with Monica Lewinsky. However, political scandals are nothing new for the federal government. During the months of May to August of 2007, Republican President Ronald Reagan’s administration was suspected of trading weapons for hostages in the Iran-Contra hearings.

This topic explores the American political environment and how amoral behavior associated with ‘seven-deadly sins’ impact contemporary organizational culture.   For this discussion, we evaluate Congressman Mark Foley’s scandal. Foley was a Florida congressman, who was reported to have sent sexually explicit emails to male pages who were high school students.

He abruptly resigned on September 29, 2006, which set-off a political landmine. House Republicans had to do damage control, whileDemocrats went on the attack. Some Democrats claimed that some House leaders knew for months of Foley’s inappropriate behavior. House SpeakerDennis Hastert found himself on the political hot seat. Hastert declared he knew nothing about Foley’s actions, but others disagreed with his proclamation. Hastert continued his claim of innocence as he asked the JusticeDepartment to investigate this matter.

Because of Foley’s resignation, he couldn’t be punished by his peers. Foley also apologized publicly, sought treatment for his alcoholic addicted, and pointed to a childhood abuse experience by a priest as a cause of his problem. Once again, Americans were asked to address another ethical issue among government officials.

In many cases, unethical decisions made by individuals who allow their ethical principles to influence their decision-making, led to laws being broken or the compromise of organizational values.  Moral principles, values, or beliefs about what is “right” or “wrong” are known as ethics.

Consequently, individuals who make decisions outside of the organization’s values sustain their moral principles internally. Ethics and organizational culture can impact the success of an organization. In fact, ethical behavior is directly related to culture.  

In the long-term, unethical behavior impacts an organizations ability to function effectively.  Employees watch what leaders do more than what they say.  Therefore, organizations that want to sustain future success must pay attention to their ethical behavior, at all levels.

Describe your professional experiences with ethical behavior by executives as well as others in the organization. Discuss what can be done to instill good ethical behavior throughout the organization

© 2011 by Daryl D. Green

The Designful Leader

Last night I was reviewing the Design School Boot Camp Bootleg, an interesting document put out by the Hasso Plattner Institute of Design at Stanford. In the opening of the 36-page PDF is the “Design Mindset” or “D. Mindset” (supposedly because everything looks cooler when you shorten a word to one letter and add a period). As I read them again, I started to wonder if they couldn’t also apply to leaders. The D. Mindsets are as follows, with my leadership commentary below:

Show, don’t tell

We all know how frustrating it is to receive “orders” from a leader who is solely focused don telling, especially if what we need is to see the action, behavior of value from the leader first before engaging in it ourselves.

Create Clarity from Complexity

Much of the role of leadership is sense-making, reducing the complex system they view to a tangible action or behavior that followers need to understand. Leaders make sense.

Be Mindful of Process

While making sense of complexity for followers, leaders also have to juggle their attention on the overall process of their objective. In addition, leaders need to know that their development and the development of their followers is a process.

Collaborate across boundaries

In most organizations, the leaders who get things done are often those who step outside the lines of hierarchy to do so. Collaboration is becoming increasingly more vital…and that doesn’t even consider the effects of globalization.

Take Bias toward actions

In the end, leaders influence others toward action. Leaders who can get to that action the quickest (with sufficient background knowledge) are of distinct advantage.

Get experimental, and experiential

As the literature on innovation grows, our understanding of the need to experiment grows with it. Leaders need to let followers experiment, and experiment themselves. In addition, leaders ought to consider the experience of what it is like to work on their team and build a positive experience.

Focus on human values

I’d love to think this one is obvious, but many “tactical” or “transactional” leaders are focused on accomplishing the objective first and appealing to human values second. While this may work in the short-term, it is not sustainable.

Seven mindsets billed as required for engaging in proper design. Still, I can’t help but wonder if they ought to be re-billed as the “L. Mindsets.

Please provide comments or feedback to our guest blogger.

David Burkus is the editor of LeaderLab, a community of resources dedicated to promoting the practice of leadership theory. He is a consultant, a speaker and an adjunct professor of business at several universities. David focuses on developing leaders putting leadership and organizational theory into practice.

David is a graduate of Oral Roberts University and holds a Master of Arts in Organizational Dynamics from the University of Oklahoma. David is currently pursuing a Doctorate of Strategic Leadership from Regent University. He can be reached at david@davidburkus.com.

Guest Blogger – Career Opportunities in Operations Management

Prof. Green had asked me if I could write something for the upcoming MBA graduates. I am happy to oblige because, in my opinion, a career in operations management is very exciting and full of opportunities.

There are a few important things to keep in mind as you start searching for a job in the field of operations management. Don’t be hasty Aim to find a job that will give you most responsibility. While the position will come with a learning curve, it will also make you a more valuable employee in the long run.

Let’s examine the following charts from Career Builder to give you a further look into the career of operations management:

Please take a look at the charts, before you read any further. Try to absorb the meaning behind the numbers.

Ask yourself the following questions:

Does education plays a large role in compensation? 

Does experience plays a large role in salary?

What is notable about the industry and compensation graph? 

Take a few minutes to think about these questions and see what hidden information those numbers hold. The ability to read between the lines is one of the most important things that an operations manager can do. This is something you will need to do on a daily basis.

Now that you’ve done the exercise. Let’s delve into it.

First, let’s notice how education gives you a large edge in salary compared to experience in this field. If you are getting MBA or Masters in operations management, you can pat yourself on the back. It would take you 20 years of experience to get a slightly lower salary just by working. This is of course a rough, aggregated date, but what it really says is: education will get you a higher position that will give you a higher salary compared to just getting experience in the field.

Under the ‘Compensation based on Industry’ chart, you can see that between the #1 industry (Health care) and the #6 industry (Aerospace and Defense), the salary gap is $30,000 a year (or  approximately 36% less), just based on one factor: field. All fields are not equal. Making a proper selection of what you want to do in the ops career and focusing your job search on one or two specific fields, is not only smart thing to do, but mandatory.  

I have good news for all of the aspiring operations managers. There’s a very high demand for your services. It is one major in business schools that a lot of people and even students don’t think about or even know about and yet almost every business has a need for it.

 This results in a high demand for operations managers. Unlike finance majors who continue struggling after the crash, demand for operations managers is still growing due to the increasing complexities of supply chain, online logistics, international trade and a number of other factors. The higher the complexity, the more there is a need for a person to make sure that everything runs smoothly.

According to Career Builder’s current statistics, for every 87 job seekers, there are 100 openings in operations management field.  This is a huge discrepancy in supply and demand; especially in the economy we are in, where in some fields there are hundreds of candidates for one position.

As operations managers entering the workforce, you have one of the best job opportunities available to you. This is why you should focus on the field that can get you further, give you the most experience, and will give you the most room to grow. Be aware of what’s happening in the job market.

Follow where the new trends are moving, keep your fingers on a pulse and you will not be disappointed with a payoff in terms of great job and bright career path.

Please comment on this topic and provide the guest blogger with meaningful feedback. 


Artyom Malkov is the author of “Interviews with Masters of Operations Management.” He is one of the founders and the current CEO of OperationsManager.com.

 Artyom has an MBA in Operations Management from New York’s Zicklin School of Business.  When he is not handling the day-to-day business at OperationsManager.com, he consults companies on the best practices and trends in operations management.

Workforce Woes

Why do we see managers so disconnected with workers? Many CEOs proclaimed they understand their workers. Yet, most don’t! In fact, one reason organizations do not reach peak performance is because managers do not understand their employees’ motivation. Since the industrial age, researchers have recognized that both technical and social factors impact organizational performance.

Daniel Wren, author of The Evolution of Management Thought, concludes that analyzing a social system gives management an avenue to measure conflict between the “logic of efficiency” demanded by the formal organization and the “logic by sentiments” by the informal organization.

 Workers are frustrated with the status quo.  According to a American Psychological Association study, four in 10 employees say a heavy workload, unrealistic job expectations, and long hours have created stress. With fierce global competition, I found it surprising that managers move toward the quick fixes like downsizing for short-term gain without analyzing the organization over the long term. This process isn’t easy. Yet, understanding workers need to be a priority. 

The current financial meltdown has forever changed our confident in traditional institutions. The private and public sectors are no exceptions. However, many organizations gain comfort in knowing that most employees will not leave due to this economic crisis. Yet, employee loyalty is at a three year low. According to MetLife’s 9th Annual study of Employee Benefit Trends, frustrated workers are secretly undertaking job searches in hopes of new opportunities when the market recovers.

In high-performance organizations, an environment is created where managers and workers coexist. In profit hunting, many businesses lose focus of the importance of socio-technical systems. Given precepts, it becomes evident that there is an increasing disconnect between leaders and followers in today’s organizations. To some managers, the problem with today’s workforce is simple a physical problem which is lack of motivated workers. Yet, the reality of the matter is that the workforce pressures are affecting workers holistically.  

What can be done to connect senior executives with the plight of today’s workers so that they can learn how to effectively motivate the workforce?

© 2011 by Daryl D. Green


[1] The Evolution of Management Thought by Daniel Wren

[2] “Workers eager to job hunt as morale plunges” by Laura Petrecca

[3] “Workers eager to job hunt as morale plunges” by Laura Petrecca

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