8 Signs You’re An Unexpectedly Indispensable Employee

These days work in an office setting is all about increasing productivity and benefiting the bottom line of the company. For those of us who work in offices, it’s hard to receive feedback or other indication that you are vital to the survival of the company. Even performance reviews aren’t necessarily the best at telling you about your output; they can be perfunctory and awkward. For that reason, I have compiled a list of signs and traits that make an indispensable employee.

1. They are naturally fun and optimistic about assigned tasks.

Regardless of the level of superiority in the company, indispensable employees are cheerful and positive, always taking assigned tasks as if they are a gift and not work. When assigned something to do, they say phrases like, “I’m gonna knock that out,” and “Sounds like a good challenge.” They do so because it is natural to them, but also realizing the fact that a supervisor, especially an inexperienced one, may not feel entirely empowered when doling out tasks.

2. They are in a specific office because they want to be in that role.

The employee that comes in on Monday bleary-eyed and complaining clearly has numerous priorities higher than work. While I am not saying that indispensable employees are those that do nothing but work, I am saying that they are those who have found the proper work environment to focus and grow their skills. Finding the correct environment leads to a desire to make a difference on a daily basis, and naturally grows the indispensable employee’s skill set, which creates a snowball effect of benefits for both the company and the worker.

3. They are execution-oriented and don’t care who gets the credit.

When sitting in a meeting, indispensable employees aren’t just thinking about the direction of the company or project, but rather about how to get moving in the direction proposed. They are schemers and natural doers that love to see tasks delegated, boxes checked, and deadlines met. The only downside is that they are so focused on getting the task done that they sometimes forget to credit themselves, but, overall, the execution-orientation of indispensable employees is unquenchable.

4. They advocate well.

In an office setting, advocating for a particular point of view is incredibly difficult. Because of the need to be polite and the need for cohesiveness among team members, advancing your own point of view can sometimes turn turmoil-ridden quickly. Indispensable employees know this and have mastered the art of getting their way without strife. They charm, and do not cajole or belittle. They are relentless but not bothersome, and, at the end of the day, willing to concede defeat on small issues in order to can points for later on.

5. They can teach anything, and learn by doing so.

Indispensable employees are the jacks-of-all-trades, and they do not necessarily want to hold all of that information in. Instead, they desire to share institutional knowledge with coworkers, and gain understanding of their coworkers and their organization by doing so. They are willing to do anything for the company, not because they want to hog the work, but because gaining that skill and being able to pass it along is vital.

6. They are networkers.

Indispensable employees are often the ones who know who the right person is for the right task. In a large organization, they maintain contacts in each business unit and are always trying to meet more people. At the end of the day, a big circle of people is important, and indispensable employees recognize that having a relationship with both the CEO and the guy who fixes the copier is equally important.

7. They are honest as a principle.

Ben Franklin said that honest is the best policy, and he was right, but maybe not for the reason you think. Honesty, especially in an office setting, creates an indispensable employee because it exposes inefficiencies and untruths sooner. When something is not working out, indispensable employees make it known, because solving a small problem through awkwardness early is better than cleaning up a festering disaster later.

8. They are self-aware.

This point is tough to advocate for, because self-awareness is not necessarily teachable. But indispensable employees are aware of how they are perceived by coworkers, of how they fit into the overall organization, and of the environment around them. This leads to a crucial understanding of how tasks get executed and the direction the company is seeking. Overall, indispensable employees know who they are, what they’re doing, and how they fit in, and they do so naturally.

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