Building Value, or how to keep your job in tough times

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Building Value, or how to keep your job in tough times
Max E. Toy, Member, Strategy Consultant, United States

She was seated. She read her magazine as the rest of us fought to stow luggage, and find a seat (I hate middle seats). Her blond hair was pulled back into a ponytail, high on the back of her head. She was an attractive woman, dressed in tan shorts and a blue blouse. She was seemingly not affected by the ninety-seven degree temperature. No one paid attention to her as we settled in for the short forty minute flight from Austin to Dallas. Once airborne, the three on duty flight attendants leapt from their seats to serve a full flight. It was then, out of the corner of my eye, I saw her close her magazine and effortlessly get up from her seat to go to the back of the plane. A few minutes passed, and there she was; moving aisle to aisle, passing out snacks. Upon passing through the entire cabin, serving all the passengers, she quietly returned to her seat and became reengaged in her magazine. Why had she done this? The other attendants didn’t know her, there was no announcement from the Captain, no supervisor with a clipboard, and I am sure that no passenger would have thought this flight incomplete without the eleven peanuts she served, but served they were. This off-duty flight attendant had just demonstrated one of the keys to keeping your job in these turbulent times. Creating and adding value: adding value to your company, your boss, your peers, and yourself. These are challenging times in every industry and the economy is seriously impacting job security. That's why it's more important than ever to position yourself as a valuable employee in your organization. The higher your perceived value, the more secure you will be in your job. Here are seven simple steps to gain positive notice by your boss and co-workers: Work Hard at the Right Things First, understand what it is you're doing and why you're doing it, so you can figure out how to do it better. Make sure you know why you're on the payroll. What exactly are you getting paid to do? Make money? Save money? Both? Ask your boss to spell out which job duties will determine your success. Then focus on doing those critical few things well. Exhibit a positive attitude at all times. Attitude is a choice you make every morning when you roll out of bed. Walk into work every day with a smile. Exhibit total professionalism. Never participate in gossip or in discussing the business of coworkers behind their backs. People will trust you and know that what they tell you is safe in your hands. Alliances only work when trust is present. Arrive early and leave late. Be on time for work and meetings. Better yet, arrive early to demonstrate that you are enthusiastic about your job. Don't race out the door at quitting time. Instead, stay an extra five or ten minutes to create a "to do" list for the next day, make some last minute calls and clear the clutter on your desk. It sends a highly professional signal to your boss and will help you to jumpstart your work the following day. This one thing -- starting 30 minutes early and staying 30 minutes late -- will give you an extra 20 hours of productivity every month. That's equal to six full working weeks every year. Now, do you think you might get noticed by the boss if you worked six weeks more than everyone else? Embrace change. Change is about the only thing you can count on in the workplace. Demonstrate your commitment to the future by embracing change, not criticizing or reluctantly accepting it. Give up old habits that are holding you back or making you appear outdated. Actively participate in changes by supporting even those initiatives with which you may not agree (see "Exhibit a positive attitude..."). Maintain a professional image. Dress for success. Wear clean, pressed, appropriate clothing that reflects the image of the top people in your organization. A sloppy image sends a message of unreliability or apathy to your boss. Keep your work area well-organized and free of clutter. Put your boss's needs at the center of your universe Recognize that success at work is not all about you; put your boss's needs at the center of your universe. Identify your boss's areas of weakness or greatest challenges and ask what you can do to help. What are your boss's biggest worries; how can your contribution mitigate these concerns? Understand your boss's goals and priorities. Place emphasis in your work to match his/her priorities. Think in terms of the overall success of your department and company, not just about your more narrow world at work. Bring suggested solutions with the problems to the meeting table. Some employees spend an inordinate amount of time identifying problems. Honestly? That's the easy part. Thoughtful solutions are the challenge that will earn respect and admiration from co-workers and bosses Increase your knowledge. Actively participate in training classes and show enthusiasm about developing new skills. Keep up to date on industry and technology changes. Take classes outside of the workplace to learn skills that will help you to become more promotable in other areas of the organization. Develop strong customer relationships. Frankly, the more your customers love you, the more valuable you become. Most businesses want to keep their employees who build customer loyalty. Get to know your customers. Listen carefully to their requests and show them that you sincerely care about their concerns. When customers are singing your praises, your boss can see concrete evidence of how you are supporting the bottom line. Valuable employees get paid more and have greater job security. The way to receive a greater reward is to be worth more. So make yourself a valuable employee. Apply yourself and prove to your employer that you earnestly desire to do more, to have more responsibility, and that you have the capacity, and the will to work!

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