By Reesa Staten, Robert Half
When it comes to your job, it’s easy to assume your employer holds all the cards. You depend on your boss for a paycheck, and he or she often has the final say when it comes to raises, promotions and plum assignments.
But you also are a valuable asset to your employer, and that gives you more power than you might think. No company can stay in business very long without a reliable workforce, which is why firms frequently go to great lengths to motivate and retain great employees.
Are you one of those great employees?
Here are five questions to ask yourself to find out if you are an office MVP (most valuable person):
- Are you checked in — or just phoning it in? Employee engagement is the Holy Grail for managers because an engaged workforce turns an average company into a great one. If you’re not showing your employer every day that you understand and are committed to the company’s mission, you may not be living up to your full potential in his or her eyes.
- Do you make customers your top priority? Yes, it’s true: With very few exceptions, the customer is always right. Without paying customers, a company has no revenue stream. Without revenue, the business can’t survive. And if the business disappears, so do its jobs. You can significantly increase your value to your employer simply by going out of your way to make customers happy. If your name appears frequently in Yelp reviews or customer satisfaction surveys, it’s hopefully because you provided outstanding service. Customer favorites are also employer favorites.
- If you see something that needs to be done, do you do it without being asked? Initiative is extremely attractive to employers. In fact, it’s one of the first qualities employers include in job postings when describing their ideal candidates. You can make yourself indispensible to a busy manager simply by being a problem-solver. When pointing out challenges or potential roadblocks to the boss, always come armed with ways to overcome them. Even the little things count. If you see a mess in the break room, do you ignore it or clean it up? I like a tidy workspace, so it’s not unusual to see me clearing off someone else’s kitchen mess. It’s not my job or my mess, but someone has to take the initiative, and it might as well be me. As for those inconsiderate coworkers who regularly leave behind spills, crumbs and dirty dishes, well, that’s a different column.
- Are you open to new ideas or ways of doing things? Businesses are constantly changing their processes and strategies to remain competitive and keep pace with rapid changes in technology. Being seen as someone who is flexible and can adapt to new systems without being overwhelmed can be a form of career insurance. If technology is your strong suit, for instance, try volunteering to train others on your company’s new software. If you have devised a better way to organize a project or task, share your ideas with coworkers and your boss. Above all, avoid being locked into outdated processes or ways of thinking: Business is moving too fast these days for anyone to be standing still.
- Does your boss trust you with key projects or responsibilities? Perhaps the biggest indicator of your value to your employer is your job description. Your boss needs people he or she can rely on. If you are regularly tasked with high-profile or highly complex assignments, it is because your employer feels you are up to the challenge. You have instilled confidence, and that greatly raises your value quotient.
It’s important to know your value to your employer because it affects your self-worth and your earnings potential. Hiring mistakes are costly to companies, and they will do whatever they can to retain their best people. This means that if you are an MVP, you have some bargaining power when it comes to your job duties and your salary. Confidence is appealing, so never sell yourself short.
Incidentally, Robert Half has a variety of salary resources that can help you determine what your skills are worth in today’s market. Our 2014 Salary Guides are available now.
Reesa Staten is senior vice president of Corporate Communications and director of workplace research for Robert Half, the world’s first and largest specialized staffing firm. Staten has been writing job search advice for more than 15 years and oversees Robert Half’s extensive workplace research program. Write to her at firstname.lastname@example.org.