Dec. 27, 2012 at 7:44 AM ET
The New Year is, for many, a time of change and resolutions. Be thinner! Be richer! Meet the love of your life!
For others, our hopes and dreams are more measurable. Whether it’s a 10 percent pay raise you’re after or moving one step closer to the corner office, forget job-hopping. In 2013, staying put and amping up your performance at work is the way to make it happen.
“The prevailing wisdom has been that to get ahead, you should learn something from one company and move on—and up—at the next,” says Brian Kropp, a managing director at CEB, an executive advisory firm which offers data analysis of more than 50,000 employee surveys from 10,000 organizations. “But that only produces short-term effects. In the new workplace we’re seeing greater emphasis on relationships,” he says, which means veteran employees are at a far greater advantage. According to CEB research, longer-tenured workers are beginning to rise to positions of success more quickly than those who move every few years.
So what does this mean for 2013 career resolutions? Ditch the job boards and set to work making yourself an indispensable employee.
“Being indispensable is about being the best,” says Lucy Leske, vice president and co-director, education practice at the executive search firm, Witt/Kieffer. “If you’re always striving to be a better, more valuable contributor, people will inevitably take note and you will get ahead.”
Without further pontification, seven simple strategies to becoming indispensable in 2013.
“The odds are that the way you’ll do work on January 1st won’t be the way you’ll be doing work on December 31st,” says Kropp. According to CEB research, more than 50 percent of employees say they have experienced “significant change” at work in the past 12 months, from reorganizations to new workflows to massive layoffs. “Make sure that your boss sees you are someone who can get the job done no matter what’s happening around you.”
“If you’re not regularly reading about industry trends in trade, business and general publications, checking out online sources and staying current on trends in your industry, you’re compromising your career growth,” says Leske. “Keeping up on trends, but more importantly, being able to apply those trends to your organization, demonstrates your understanding if its place within the industry.”
Don’t be a loner
In the new workplace, 40 percent of employees work with more than 20 people on a given day, and more than 80 percent work with 10 according to CEB research. “The idea that you can be an individual contributor and be successful is an idea of the past,” says Kropp. “Fitting within the network of the workplace is a part of the new definition of a great employee.”
Be a thought leader
All of that knowledge you’ve gained by reading up on the industry? Leske says to make a habit of sharing it. “Write articles, make presentations, serve on panels or blog,” she says. “People need to have confidence in you that you know what you’re doing and that you’re willing to use it to help other peoples’ problems.”
“It’s really easy to add more things to your to-do list but just as critical—if not more so—to know what to take off,” says Kropp. It’s no secret that work can be an overwhelming place, particularly in a post-recession environment where Kropp says the number of direct reports answering to any given manager has increased by an average of 50 percent in the past five years. Good decision making, delegating and prioritization are the signs of an effective leader, no matter your position within the organizational matrix.
Seek opportunities for management experience
Speaking of managers, Leske advises that you actively pursue any opportunity for managing employees, no matter how small and trivial (or large and daunting) the task may seem. “There’s a difference between begging for these opportunities and raising your hand,” she warns, “but if someone says there’s a job to be done, raise your hand first and ask for help later. The biggest mistake is passing up the opportunity.”
Make friends with the IT guy
The average number of work-related emails we receive each day has increased fourfold since 2005, underscoring the explosive importance of technology in the office. This makes the IT department not just a vital team in the workforce, but an essential ally to any employee reaching for success as with their help you can avoid unnecessary downtime due to tech failures.
But Kropp adds that it isn’t just the IT team who have become increasingly important within the workplace. “Making friends with admins is an important move as well,” he says. As workflows have changed in the workplace of 2013 CEB reports that power, authority and decision making is cropping up in some unexpected places. “The administrative assistant of the CEO decides what’s on his or her schedule,” he points out. Underestimating their authority—or missing the opportunity to develop a strong relationship with that person is a judgment lapse no indispensable employee would miss.
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