Now that job security is almost non-existent and young workers don't want to stay too long in a job anyway, why bother to make yourself essential to your employer?
Even if you become the employee the boss never wants to fire, we know that you could still lose your job. Because bad things happen even to good people.
But being a valuable and valued employee does mean you'll have better, albeit not absolute, job security. It also means getting good references when you're out there looking for a job. It's also about enjoying your job more and drawing a greater sense of satisfaction from your work.
"When your colleagues see you performing above-and-beyond, without doing it front of a spotlight, with no seeming reward, then you set the bar for excellence in your group," James Altucher says in The Rich Employee. "Keep setting the bar in unexpected ways and suddenly you become the bar that everyone strives to be like."
So what do valuable employees have that makes them essential to their employers?
As a CEO, here are the qualities that make people vital to my team:
They have robust skill-sets.
When employers hire people, they're looking for specific skills. Whether it's in finance, operations, marketing, sales, development, or any other area of the company, you have to have the skills the job requires. You also have to be willing to keep learning new skills, which can sometimes lead you to an entirely different role.
But there are other skills employers are looking for, that may not necessarily be explicit in the job description. I'm referring to "meta" skills that are needed in any job.
These include the ability to organize yourself, your environment, and your tasks. Another necessary skill is the ability to meet deadlines and be responsible for your work. Yet another desirable skill is the ability to communicate in whatever modes are often used by the company--usually by email, telephone, and face-to-face. And all employers want you to be able to get along reasonably well with others.
They have great attitudes.
But more than skills, valuable employees also bring beneficial attitudes to the job. These are the same attitudes that would make for a successful entrepreneur, such as: having a positive outlook; persisting through challenges and failures; refusing to see yourself as a victim, no matter what the situation; and leaning into uncertainty.
They ask good questions.
The most treasured employees deal well with ambiguity. When things aren't clear, they clarify as much as they can and then ask good questions, rather than freezing up or just punting the problem or project back to their managers. They know the right questions to ask that lead to the answers they need.
They think ahead.
Valuable employees think about the reasons why they're doing something and the implications of what happens if they do it one way or another. They think through the consequences of their actions and can anticipate--and prepare for--challenges.
They take ownership.
A valuable employee doesn't have to be a manager to take ownership of their job. They take ownership of the task or project, no matter how large or small, so they don't need their hands held through it all.
Also, when something goes wrong, they take responsibility for it and take action to make things right.
Employees become valued members of the team when they show the ability, willingness, and commitment to contribute to the company's success. It's not just a job for them; they really do care about the business and its customers.
Their bosses know that, whatever the task at hand may be, they'll dive in and do their best. Beyond receiving recognition and praise, the most beloved employees take pride in doing excellent work and making a positive difference.
You can never have enough people like that.