Managing yourself creatively

How to make yourself Indispensable?

What does it take these days to be considered absolutely essential in business? What are the unique qualities that mark a man not just “promising” but “productive”? More specifically, exactly what can a manager do to deserve recognition and reward?

There are probably as many answers to these questions as there are managers, for no two companies’ problems, products, or personnel are precisely alike. Yet, by common consent, there are certain characteristics “winners” everywhere share.

This is not to say that you must do all these things in order to make your mark. But as opportunities present themselves, you cannot go wrong if you try to do as many of these things as possible.

Look For Trouble

No business is so problem-free that it can’t benefit from a careful scrutiny of its methods. Consider the areas in which problems can occur: labor, management, production, well-site, laboratories credit, distribution, traffic, selling, and lots more.

In your very own department, on your very own job, things are probably not as perfect as they might be. And if you think they are – look again. Raise your sights. Refuse to be satisfied with “things-as-they-are”. Search for better ways by asking yourself questions such as: “What can be done more effectively”? “How is money being wasted”? “What takes too much time”? “Where can steps be saved”? “Is there better sequence for performing this job?” “What can be eliminated, combined, simplified, standardized?” Cultivate the habit of “positive dissatisfaction” with your job, not for purposes of griping, but for improving results. It pays to look for trouble.

Acquire Additional Skills

No matter what image of yourself you want to create, regardless of who your superiors may be, you can only benefit from adding to your personal know-how. If you’re in middle management, broaden your horizons – and executive potential – by studying those aspects of running a business which are unfamiliar to you; finance, planning, production, marketing, and the like. If you’re in personnel department, learn all you can about human resources management. If you’re in the shipping department, learn all you can about traffic management. If you’re a draftsman, take courses in architecture or engineering. Whatever your job today, recognition and a better job wait for you tomorrow – if you will only prepare yourself.

Become An Expert

Not every manager earns to be a vice president; many people are perfectly content with the jobs they have. There’s nothing wrong with that, certainly. But no matter what you are happiest doing, you can do it better and earn additional recognition also. A line supervisor, for example, can increase his knowledge of his product and the products of his company’s competitors. He can acquaint himself more thoroughly with company policy, the history of his industry, the entire manufacturing process involved in his product, his firm’s research program, its marketing operation, and its customers’ problems. If you become an expert in your chosen field and share your knowledge willingly, your reputation, as well as your “indispensability”, is bound to grow. For knowledge is not only power; it is also prestige, authority, and self-assurance.

The man who knows, and knows that he knows, has no hesitations or fears when confronted by a situation that he is equipped to meet. A: TV repairman isn’t the least bit afraid of attacking the maze of wires which discourages you-and me-from tinkering with the innards of our own television sets. Hundreds of feet above traffic, window cleaner goes nonchalantly about a job that leaves other men breathless. A jet pilot hops behind a panel of intricate controls with a supreme confidence no layman can fathom.

Why? Because each of these men knows his job; that is, what to do, how to do it, why to do it.

Know your stuff. Know it inside out. Saturate yourself with it. There is nothing that will put the spring of confidence into your walk and into your performance like being sure that you definitely, concretely, and specifically know what you are doing.

What kinds of knowledge must the effective manager acquire? All kinds, to be sure – the more, the better – and here are some suggestions.

Job Knowledge

This includes not only knowing your specific responsibilities that goes without saying, but knowing whatever is to be known about fulfilling them more effectively. It requires continuous updating as to new techniques, new discoveries in your field, and new approaches and solutions to problems.

One simple example; the young are growing in numbers, and as they enter the labor market – bright, educated, looking for meaningful work- they are upsetting many long-cherished business beliefs. Which appeals are apt to be most persuasive to them at the recruitment stage? To what on-the-job motivations are they most likely to respond? What is their definition of “satisfying work”?

Nothing in an executive’s past experience is geared to prepare him for dealing with the new generation. In order to get the answers the needs, the executive must keep up with the news; with what other companies are doing; and with what young people are thinking. And then he must be willing to learn and change with the times.

The manager seeking ways to boost his own productivity should also define in his own mind the extent of his responsibilities. What must be – and he alone – do? What can be delegate? By eliminating the routine drudgery of his job, he frees himself for more important work – work he can do better with the time gained through ridding himself of the petty and bothersome details.

He must also keep on top of whatever technological advances are being made in his field, be they in research and development, production, distribution or marketing. There is no specific formula for reaching this goal; but what he needs is curiosity, to read, to attend conferences or colloquia when possible, and to continue communication with his peers and colleagues.