We have all heard it said at some point in our professional careers: “Everybody is replaceable.” It may be a short sentence --- only nine syllables --- and just three words in length, but this phrase can be heavy. It can carry so much weight – that it makes it difficult for any truly dedicated, conscientious worker to swallow and digest.
Why? Well, because: those three words tell an employee that no matter what value he/she brings to the table, someone else can be hired to do the same job and have the same impact.
Are You Irreplaceable?
Beyonce sings songs about it. Stephen Covey wrote chapters on it. We have always thought of ourselves as “irreplaceable”. As children, we were brought up to believe that we bring our own distinct value . . . that we are special.
Then we entered the workforce to learn that we were not the only special employees. That old adage, “one monkey don’t stop no show” was proven to be true. While we have seen employees try to “stop the show” with their “I QUIT” announcement, the show inevitably, undoubtedly manages to go on!
While I agree that the show can and will go on without you, I’ve seen the evidence time and time again that the individual value a worker brings sets his/her replace-ability factor. In other words, the more perceived value you have, the more likely that an employer will want to keep you around.
How does one increase his/her perceived value?
Strengthening your value does not necessary make you “irreplaceable”, but it certainly provides yet another reason why an employer might not want to lose you. There are several ways that employees can increase their value in the workplace. Below I have identified 3 tips that readers can start implementing today. They are my ABC’s of Building Your Value:
Align Yourself: Do you know the mission and vision of your organization? Do you know your department’s strategic initiatives? How about your boss’s expectations for you? If not, get in the know. And it is not just about knowing them; it is about your ability to walk in alignment with the mission, vision, and goals every day. It is about your ability to live the mission and vision, and to live up to (if not surpass) your employer’s expectations.
Making sure that you are living the mission and vision, and working in direct alignment with these three areas (organization, department, and management) will immediately increase your value. Alignment demonstrates your willingness to commit to the overall strategy.
How do you Align Yourself?
- Demonstrate a clear understanding of the organization’s goals.
- Work in concert with those people and teams who are working towards those goals.
- Develop your own personal vision that directly supports the organizational and departmental goals
- Be able to clearly communicate the value that you bring through alignment
- Document! Document! Document! Keep track of your daily activities, decision-making, and performance. Compare your tasks to management’s expectations of you. Are you meeting expectations?
Make a commitment to “align yourself”. If you help catapult your boss, department, and organization to the next level, your elevation should naturally follow.
Build Your Network: Of course, you have heard the saying, “it isn’t what you know, it’s who you know”. While I don’t subscribe to this belief entirely ( afterall, who you know will only get you so far), I do believe that developing a strong network of like-minded individuals and influential professionals can help in building value.
With tools like LinkedIn, building your value through networking has never been easier. What should you consider as you Build Your Network?
As you build your network, surround yourself with people who have a similar vision. But also be sure to connect with people who motivate and inspire you -- perhaps someone in a position in which you’d like to be some day, or someone whose work ethic you admire.
- Identify like-minded individuals
- Schmooze! Join groups/networks in your industry of interest
- Widen your network with influential, thought-leaders
- Network both internally and externally: Build your network within the four walls of your organization; but also make contacts outside of the company.
Create Your Brand: So, I always tell my 8-year-old daughter not to concern herself with what others think of her. Well, this advice goes right out the window when I am talking to business professionals about increasing professional value.
In most cases in our professional lives, it does matter what others think. Remember, your employer’s perception of you is reality . . . at least to them. If they see you as a go-getter, then that is what you are.
But what if I told you that you have the power to direct and possibly control that perception? Would you believe that that power lies in the development of your personal brand?
I’m not encouraging you to be something you’re not. In fact, what I’m suggesting is the opposite. I'm suggesting that you use your personal brand to advertise your best professional qualities.Your personal brand is how you communicate the unique value that you consistently bring. It is the way that you market yourself and drive the message to shape perceptions!
So, how does one build his/ her brand? Building one’s brand is an ongoing process, but here are few steps to get you started:
- Self-Assess and Act: Identify your strengths and be able to effectively and confidently communicate them. Recognize your weaknesses and challenges, and determine what steps you are going to take to address them!
- Define Your Value: Do you know why you are valuable to your team and to the organization? What do you do that no one else does? What processes have you implemented or improved? Being able to effectively communicate why you are valuable is crucial.
- Demonstrate your value: Give your all! A key aspect of building your brand is showing how valuable you are. Don’t just talk about it! Demonstrate it!
- Let Your Personality Shine Through: What are the best aspects of your personality? Share the best part of you by letting that personality shine! When you allow this to happen, it is easier to personally connect with clients, colleagues, and management, and establish a rapport.
So, what’s the point? The point is simple. It’s time to start thinking “next level”. Status quo is not enough --- especially in this job market. Value is the keyword, and in order to increase employability, we must be able to strengthen our perceived value, and effectively communicate to others the value we bring. Yes, an employer may be able to bring someone in to fill a position, but if you are creating and adding value, it is more likely that an employers will want to keep you around.
You are special. And if the right steps are taken, you can be IRREPLACEABLE!
Kimberly A. Ferguson is an author, professional development trainer, consultant, and the owner of Excel Service Consulting, LLC. For more information on Kimberly, please visit her LinkedIn profile at http://www.linkedin.com/in/kferg; or visit her website at http://www.kferg.com.