There is no such thing as “job security” anymore. Gone are the days where an employee can enter a new job at an organization and expect to spend the next 30 years at that company, stopping only when he or she hits the retirement age.
Job changes are common, as are layoffs, budget cuts, organizational changes, and reductions in staff. There are a multitude of reasons why people move and switch jobs. That’s how today’s economy works. But is there anything you can do to ensure you remain in your position as long as you can? Absolutely!
Here is a list of the top 20 things you can do to make yourself “unfireable”:
- Be on time. Habitual tardiness is a career killer. It says, “I don’t respect this place enough to get here at the time they expect me.”
- Be consistent. You know your limits, expectations, and responsibilities better than anyone else. Don’t bring sudden surprises and changes into your work habits. That will throw everyone else off and interrupt the flow.
- Be responsible. Take ownership of your mistakes and resolve them quickly. Be the person they can count on to take care of his or her business without excessive monitoring. If you don’t want to be micromanaged, don’t give them a reason to.
- Be reliable. Much like being on time, others expect you to show up and do your job. Absences happen, illnesses happen, life happens. But it’s important that others can trust you to do your share of the work.
- Take on new projects with a smile. This is so important! When you’re asked to take on new work, even if you feel you are already overburdened or stretched too thin, this is not the time to complain about your workload. Instead, consider it a chance to prove yourself. Maybe they’re checking to see if you can handle the responsibilities of a new position, and you just don’t know it yet. See this as a good thing, not a hassle. You don’t know who is watching.
- Have a can-do attitude. Nobody ever gets ahead by saying “I can’t do _______.” It’s negative and off-putting. If someone asks for your help, even if you don’t have any idea what you’re expected to do, make it clear that you are willing to learn. Being well-rounded at work multiplies your chances of being indispensable.
- Bring people together, don’t split them apart. Great leaders know how to create strong, productive teams. They bring the best talent together and coach them into success. Building walls or pitting one employee against another destroys morale and productivity.
- Be collaborative. Be willing to work with others to reach a common goal. You might have specialized skills that nobody else has, but you should be willing to share those with others in a way that benefits everyone.
- Have integrity. Integrity requires the willingness to accept responsibility, admit to failings and mistakes, and make the right decision even if it isn’t the most popular one. Living with integrity gives you peace of mind. It is only when you aren’t doing this that you will suffer, because you aren’t living authentically.
- Show gratitude and appreciation. We all want to be recognized and appreciated for our efforts. When was the last time you told one of your employees or friends how grateful you are for knowing them? Here’s a little secret: when you tell others how grateful you are for them, this will end up enriching you, too. It’s all about spreading the love.
- Recognize others’ contributions and greatness. This might be hard for some people because there could be some underlying jealousy or resentment when they see others moving up and succeeding in areas where they feel they are either being left out or behind. But guess what? It’s not about you. It’s about being kind, considerate, and supportive of others. When you let your resentment overshadow other people’s successes, that’s selfish and destructive to everyone involved.
- Be a great listener. There is a big difference between listening and hearing. When you are listening to someone, show them they have your full attention. You want to be the kind of person who listens without judgment and doesn’t feel the need to solve their problems. Not everyone wants someone to rush in and rescue them. Maybe all they need is someone to sit quietly and allow them to vent. Recognize when it’s more important to keep your mouth closed and your ears open, then proceed slowly.
- Be present. Put your distractions down and dedicate your full focus to others and their situations. Experience the sights, smells, and sounds of your environment. Forget what happened the day before, or even hours before. Be present moment to moment.
- Be the role model for excellence in leadership. Most people learn better by watching others and what they’re doing, rather than by being told what to do or how to act. A great leader always puts his or her best foot forward and models the type of behaviors he or she wants to see from others.
- Be vulnerable when needed. No, this doesn’t mean for you to be a doormat. Nobody should ever feel like they’re being walked on by others. What this means is you are able to put all the showy pretense away and humble yourself into service for others. It’s a feeling of acceptance, of tearing down walls and just allowing others to see you for who you are. Ask for help if you need it. Show others when you’re hurt, worried, or stressed. People enjoy honesty and appreciate humility.
- Be authentic. I can’t stress this often enough. People know a fake when they come across one. These are the people who give canned, empty responses to others’ questions. Ugh! Authenticity allows people to see the real you—the opinions, values, and character traits you hold deep inside. And yes, authenticity can lead to vulnerability. These two things complement each other very well.
- Dress for success. Don’t be a slob. If your position requires a three-piece suit and tie, then don’t show up to work without a tie. Doing this says, “I don’t respect the rules enough.” It’s been said before: You are what you wear. If you want to make a fashion statement, make it at home or off the clock. Work is not the place to try out new fashion styles. (Unless you’re in the fashion industry. 😊)
- Be human. Well, that clears it all up, doesn’t it? Actually, it does. We’re all imperfect human beings. We’ve all made mistakes and poor decisions. That’s just how it goes. There’s nothing wrong with letting others know exactly how imperfect you are. Just tell them your challenges. Share your personal shortcomings. If you come to terms with your own issues, you open yourself up to acceptance by others.
- Recognize the lesson in the failure. Does the idea of failing terrify you? STOP! It’s time we reframe the meaning behind the word failure. It’s time we change it from a negative – “I am such a failure” – to a positive – “Well, I certainly learned a lot from that event.” Do you see how that takes the sting and negativity out of it? Reframing is a powerful tool to help you process, accept, and move on when things don’t exactly turn out how you’ve planned them. And guess what? Nobody’s life turns out exactly as they planned it to be. That’s life.
- Be forgiving. Don’t harbor resentment or bitterness towards others. That anger just builds up and spreads its poison throughout the body. Instead, starve that anger by offering forgiveness. There is nothing weak about this. In fact, it takes more courage and strength to forgive someone who has upset you. This applies to both your work life and your personal life. Dumping that anger opens you up for love.
What a great list, huh? I think so. And what makes it even more powerful is that it can be applied to both your professional and personal lives. There is no real magic secret to becoming an indispensable employee. It’s just all about how you show up.