Steps you can take to make yourself indispensible to your employer

Companies, businesses and organizations come in all shapes and sizes. From massive corporations with international offices to medium-sized companies with a few hundred employees to small businesses with less than 25 people...the organizational structure, culture and philosophy is as important to success as the quality of products and services.

Though size was once considered a sign of prosperity and stability for an organization, today it has become a liability. Downsizing to a "lean and mean" model has become the necessity. We have seen giant corporations slashing thousands of jobs in an effort to be more competitive. Layers of middle management have been removed to bring decision-making closer to the worker.

What does this mean to the employee? The people who do the work and deal with the customer every day are more involved in the day-to-day operation. Workers are taking more responsibility for their organization's success.

This may reap positive results because it allows employees to develop and stretch their abilities more fully. It can also be uncomfortable for the employee. If you work for a large organization and believe it is your "security blanket," you may have already found out that your blanket has been thrown off. Now is a good time to look at the big picture of your organization.

Prepare yourself by being actively involved in the operation and day-to-day decision-making. This kind of thinking may save your job when management decides to eliminate people who need too much supervision. Consider the following suggestions for creating greater job security in a large- or medium-sized organization.

1. Always be aware of the Big Picture. How does your position fit into the overall operations of your organization? Is your function in the company's organizational chart? Is your job necessary? Can you see the direct impact of your job on the final product or income of the company? What is the history of your position? What happened to the person who had your job before you? Do you have the necessary skills to be promoted?

2. Know how necessary your job is to the Big Picture. Does your position involve a level of responsibility that could easily be taken on by some other position? If so, begin to look for ways to increase the value and uniqueness of what you do.

3. Learn as much as you can about the positions around you, below you and above you.

4. Explore ways to create a "new" position for yourself. Learning new skills, discovering new services, creating new programs or products or finding new ways to solve old problems can lead to a whole new set of responsibilities. Make yourself indispensable. You may even receive a promotion!

Never "settle" or become complacent. That doesn't mean you should live in constant fear of losing your job. But you will be ensuring a much more secure future when you increase your value to the organization.

Jane Boucher is an author and professional speaker with offices in Reno. Reach her at 853-0226 or jane@janeboucher.com.

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