How To Become a Go-To Employee

By Lindsey Novak

June 18, 2020 5 min read

A bachelor's degree is not enough for getting a job and keeping it. The degree shows a student has the ability to study and absorb information from each class. Hopefully, the student has chosen a major, though students often change majors as they become more familiar with the field. After graduation, no one will be interviewing and testing students on what they learned in school. Experienced interviewers will judge interviewees on their maturity in providing appropriate responses to their questions. They will also pose hypothetical business situations to determine one's creative and critical thinking skills.

Competition is fierce, and the days of entitlement are over, unless one's parents run a family-owned business. Even then, they may want a son or daughter to learn the business before allowing them to attain a management job.

Many employees know they have to prove themselves on the job before they are trusted with more responsibility, but not all are aware of what it really takes to become valued. According to Bruce Tulgan, author of "The Art of Being Indispensable At Work" and bestselling author of "It's Okay to Be The Boss," and his three decades of following the latest developments in the workplace through long-term organizational studies, advancing in one's career results from achieving a long list of necessary employee attributes.

Tulgan says go-to people in organizations make the right decisions and get things done. They routinely deliver or have great reasons if they decline work. By ruling out the work they think will not benefit the company, they build their reputation on their successes. When a person has a history of accomplishments, others want to work with them.

Employees are asked to do things for their bosses, but they may also be asked to work for people who are not their bosses. It's important to work within the hierarchy both up and down the chain of command within the system. Reaching out to laterals or others across departments is not the preferred way to get things done.

Becoming indispensable requires critical thinking abilities, which doesn't include saying yes habitually without analyzing the information and the situation. It's important to say no to avoid overcommitment. Saying no for the right reasons will add to your credibility. Sometimes, saying no to something is best replaced by saying "not yet." That means waiting for a better plan before going ahead. A flat no may look like one is not willing to examine all aspects of a project where there may be further opportunities. Saying no without appearing stubborn is a skill, so it is not a word to jump on without thinking.

Being organized through lists and clear instructions can turn a person into a go-to contact. Lists give a person the opportunity to consider where and what to focus on to create value. They encourage a person to finish all projects they start so they can accept new ones. Accepting projects beyond what is possible may create the reverse effect. Keep in mind that according to research, no one can successfully multitask. When a project is overwhelming, break it into smaller sections to complete it without errors.

Politicking will not lead a person to success. Relationship-building is important, but focusing on completing the work over brownnosing will move the person closer to success. Go-to employees connect with other go-to employees because they know the value of building relationships with others who are also focused on success.

There will always be someone who achieves more than others. This is not done without a foundation based on knowledge and values. Becoming a known go-to person is a choice made on wanting to be indispensable.

Email career and life coach: [email protected] with your workplace problems and issues. Ms. Novak responds to all emails. For more information, visit www.lindseynovak.com, and for past columns, see www.creators.com/read/At-Work-Lindsey-Novak.

Photo credit: Free-Photos at Pixabay

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