7 ways to become irreplaceable as a manager
You’re somewhat new to your position, but you’ve been doing it long enough that you think this is something you could stick with for the long haul. Your daily routines are solid and you’re aware of most of the tasks your role requires.
But you know you’re a little green still and always looking for ways to learn new things—especially new ways to impress and help the people around you. Managing can be a tricky role because everyone you work with had a different set of priorities. But as you grow in the role, you’ll soon discover the best ways to roll with the punches and work with different team members. And when you do this, you’ll find that you’re irreplaceable as a manager. Here are a few tips to fast track you to that stage in your career.
1. Be up-to-date
When something changes, be the first one to learn it. Make yourself irreplaceable by becoming the person people go to with questions they’re too afraid to ask their own managers. If people see you as someone who learns quickly and shares that knowledge readily, you’ll be respected and appreciated.
2. Be vocal
If you’re uncomfortable drawing attention to yourself, you need to get over it. The people who speak up, ask questions, and clarify information in meetings get noticed. If your bosses don’t know who you are or what you’re contributing, they won’t see you as irreplaceable. On the other hand, participating in meetings shows engagement and commitment to the company’s goals.
3. Know your role
Whether you manage a restaurant, run a gym, or work for a Fortune 500 company, you’ve got to know your position inside and out. That means running the work day-to-day and being able to predict roadblocks in the future. Knowing your role also means you know how your work fits into the big picture of the business. How does the work required of you and your department affect people and departments above and below you? If you’re going to be irreplaceable it’s because no one in your organization can work productively without you.
4. Don’t make work for others
If you see something that needs to get done and you know how to do it, don’t throw up your hands and say “that’s not my department!” Sometimes work will be required of you that doesn’t fall totally in your department or under your umbrella, but you should still know how to do it or at least know who to ask to learn how to do it. If you manage a certain department, you should know the employees in a different department so you can ask them for assistance if necessary.
5. Go back to basics
A manager who knows the job from bottom to top is most respected. If you manage a store, make sure you know how to run the till and change the lightbulbs. If you run a restaurant know how to bus tables and wash dishes. You are not too good to do the same work that your employees do. Show them you are willing to get your hands dirty and you will earn their respect. That will make you irreplaceable.
6. Harness your foresight
Be able to predict pain points and come up with workarounds before they are needed. If you’ve been in your role for even a little while, you know where things get stuck or break down. Start fixing those problems first. Then use that knowledge to get out in front of future problems. Being a forward thinker will show your organization that you understand not only your role but the overall vision.
Things at work will change. They always do. Instead of meeting that change with resistance, accept what’s happening and change with the new ideas. Bring your own new ideas to the table to show that you’re not stuck in old ways of thinking. This is especially helpful when you can fix inefficiencies. Employers are always looking for people who think “outside of the box.” When you’re that person, people will look to you for suggestions, making you someone that can be counted on for big ideas.
Becoming irreplaceable as a manager isn’t an exact science. Respect and hard work are at the core of job security. Keep yourself in the mix and engaged and be sure your employees and colleagues know you’re willing to roll up your sleeves to get the work done. A Forbes article quotes executive coach Stever Robbins as saying, “When you’re indispensable, some part of the company cannot function without you. You may have knowledge that is unique to you, a position in the organization that is unique to you, or a skill that is unique to you.” When you have these skills, you’ll soon find yourself realizing you really are irreplaceable.