Make Yourself Irreplaceable at Work

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I used to run several health care clinics. Whenever I interviewed a candidate for a job, I always made sure to ask one simple question. “How will you add value to our organization?”

I asked because I want to know what makes someone unique. In other words, why should I hire you, and not the next person sitting in the waiting room? I strove to make my hiring decision based on how well the interviewee could answer this question. And even after I hired someone, I kept asking what value he or she provided to the organization.

A hiring manager may never ask you that question. But even if you’re not looking for a job or seeking a promotion, you still need to demonstrate the value you create.

So, how do you create value? I recommend that you give it some thought, because the value that you provide is what makes you inimitable.

Here are four ways to create value and make yourself irreplaceable.

1. Build relationships.

No two relationships are exactly alike. Think about it –you probably have a certain friend or family member with whom you can talk about anything. That connection cannot be replaced. The same is true for you as a professional. Go out of your way to be generous and bring people together. Remember the golden rule: treat others the same way you want to be treated. How you relate to your colleagues and customers, and how much they rely on you, makes you a valuable asset to the team.

2. Solve problems.

It’s an ever-changing world, with new challenges arising every day. Customers and management have problems they need to resolve. Therefore, you can stand out by finding solutions. Be inventive and look for new ways to remove the barriers. Take just one problem off your manager’s plate, and you will create a huge amount of value.

3. Go beyond the degree.

Earning a degree is a huge achievement. But it doesn’t guarantee you a job. Try to see things from an employer’s perspective. Yes, your knowledge and skills are valuable, even necessary, but you are just one of many professionals with the same credentials. Therefore, you must go beyond the degree. Specialize and add more depth to your knowledge. Seize every opportunity to develop a unique skill, and acquire knowledge that other people don’t have. Learn as much as you can on your own, outside of school. Only in this way will you set yourself apart.

4. Be real.

The more you succeed, the more people will ask you to take on new responsibilities. This may put pressure on your schedule, not to mention your stress level! But you don’t have to sacrifice yourself. Be honest and know your limitations. Talk to your manager when tasks become overwhelming, especially if they compromise the quality of your work. Management will appreciate your willingness to communicate. Remember, doing the right thing is always the right thing to do.

When you demonstrate your value, you boost your confidence as a professional. Plus, you signal to your employers that they made the right choice when they hired you. What do you think? What are some other ways in which you can distinguish yourself?

Written by Rockie McDaniel, DHA, MSN, RN, FHP
Dr. Rockie McDaniel is an Assistant Professor in the College of Health, Human, Services, and Science at Ashford University.

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