Be Indispensable in 2011

With today’s shaky economy so many of us are worried about job security. Doing your job is simply not good enough anymore. Here are some tips to continue to be viewed as valuable to your employer.

  • Become an expert in your job functions. Note that I didn’t say to become an expert in everything here. You were hired to do a job – do it, and do it well! If one of your job functions is to manage the website, instead of sticking to the usual updates, do some research about your website’s traffic and how you can improve a viewer’s experience. Don’t bog your supervisor down with a million ideas, but put together some recommendations and lay out an expected timeline for implementation . The easier you make things for your supervisor, the more indispensable you’ll become.
  • Always be easy to work with. It’s good to speak your mind and contribute your opinions to a discussion, but always do so with tact and respect. Remember that everyone you are working with is working for the same thing – your nonprofit’s mission. Don’t let personal feelings or vendettas enter into the workplace, especially while working one-on-one with a colleague. Unfortunately, many people are difficult to work with. If you’re not, you will be respected by all of your colleagues – and you never know who’s cozy with the boss.
  • Get friendly with the competition. There is an unspoken line between nonprofit staffers and board members – cross it! Board members are people, too! And they make important decisions about salaries and staffing. In any correspondence with a board member, treat them as you would any donor, with the utmost respect and courtesy. If you’re asked to get checks signed by a board member, take the opportunity during the visit to make small talk, take a look around the building, and be pleasant. Chances are that board member will remember your positive attitude the next time there’s a staffing discussion.
  • Be a Jack (or Jane) of all Trades. Even in a small nonprofit, a job description is usually pretty specific. There are most likely at least 12 things not listed in your job description that you will be asked to do in the first four months. Instead of pouting through it, be open minded and learn different skills. Suddenly you will become the one everyone asks for help with their Outlook, advice on mailings, in replacing the copier toner, in fixing the office toilet (true story!)… don’t get bogged down in these requests but be able to give a helping hand when your workload allows.

Unfortunately, even if you follow these guidelines closely, there will still be people who might have criticisms of you and the way you work. There’s a simple way to address this – be confident! If you are confident in yourself and the job you are carrying out, that will come through in your working style with your colleagues. Managers love nothing more than to believe their employees have everything under control. And if you do, you truly will be indispensable!

-N.C.

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