How to become an indispensable employee

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You’re adaptable, you’re enthusiastic, you never say no.

Sound familiar? But, what do you actually do?

I recently found myself in a position where I hired a new team member. I was really organised – I’d outlined exactly what I needed her to do, and when, and how. I had followed my probation training guidelines and timelines, and then hired her officially 12 weeks in. My operations manager/PA.

In my line of work I need someone adaptable, someone who can see things coming before I do, someone who makes sure my clients aren’t waiting on me to do something for them, and to keep me on track, to manage my communication and diary and events. To manage my finances, to write articles, create documents for my clients and to manage our Social Media.  To book venues and organise our events from start to finish. So, I trained my new team member and she kept saying “yes”, and smiling and working hard and delivering, her role naturally growing as we progressed –  until one day, she said “no”.

I took a step back and looked, and she explained to me that, actually, she couldn’t do that because she didn’t have time. And then she presented me with an enormous list of her tasks for the week and I realised that we hadn’t been communicating. We had been so excited and carried away with where the business was going and our success, that I hadn’t realised that my own team was suffering. I had neglected to follow my own advice.

Feedback has to be a two-way street. It’s what I teach my clients; it’s what I teach their teams. So with this in mind I know we have an open line of communication running through the business, and now was the time to make it work.

We sat down and my Operations Manager suggested where we needed to prioritise. She presented me with her ‘Roles & Routines sheet’ that I’d made when she first joined, and then she described her actual role, and all that it entailed. We made a new Roles & Routines list, and we talked. She outlined what she thought was most important and what she was best at, and then she highlighted where she needed training and what was missing.

I teach business owners that there are £10/hr jobs, £100/hr jobs and £1000/hr jobs. I, as the Entrepreneur, the Business Owner, should be free to do the £1000/hr jobs. And I was drowning my PA in the £10 & £100/hr jobs. There simply weren’t enough hours for her to complete everything that needed doing.

So, we agreed that we needed a bookkeeper, and to share the Social Media responsibilities with another member of our team who writes a lot of our content. We outsource the booking of and organisation of venues, and we arranged a few training courses for her to attend. We are automating a lot more of our customer journey and sales pipeline to cut down on admin hours, and we are getting things done faster than ever before! And so much more efficiently. I thought she was an integral part of the team within three months of hiring her, but now I know she is. She had the initiative to come to me with honesty, and in doing that she proved to me that she wanted to stay, that she wanted the business to succeed, and we worked together to find out how to do just that.

Now, we are a real team, she tells me when we’re flying, and when we need to discuss something. As part of the way I run the business, we have regular planning meetings, and tasks are delegated evenly and realistically. I value and respect her input, and I make sure she knows that.

One of the programmes we run is about developing managers. So many of these managers have been promoted by their boss with no formal training, and in the main it is the manager themselves that have approached their boss and asked for this development. It’s not cheap, but they know that they need to invest in their team and employees to further the business.

So, you know what you do – but does your boss? If you are overwhelmed, don’t be afraid to book a meeting and go through your roles, a typical working week, or month if you like. If they aren’t aware of how much you do, make them understand.

Be brave. Show your boss that you respect yourself enough to know when you need development, or to ask for help. What’s the alternative? Burnout, resentment, stress or illness?

Suggest ways to get around blocks, present them with solutions, and you won’t be any less indispensable – you’ll be able to be even better at your job and become even more valued.

Marianne PageAbout the author

Marianne Page is the bestselling author of Simple, Logical, Repeatable and the founder of the Freedom System.

Modelled on four foundations success – Planning, Process, People, and Performance – Marianne provides business owners with a blueprint for scale, growth and personal freedom. Marianne previously had 27 years of senior management experience. She now works with six- and seven-figure business owners who are victims of their own, often rapid, success, and who are unable to extricate themselves from working in their business in order to work on it.

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