March 10, 2014 | Barb Carr

Career Development: Are You Irreplaceable? 6 Questions that Reveal What Your Boss is Thinking


Avoid the Pink Slip!

Last week we learned how to do a quick self-evaluation of our job performance. How did you do? This week we’ll dig a little deeper and look at it from a different perspective, not what we think about ourselves but what our boss thinks about us.

While unemployed workers seem more optimistic about finding a job in 2014, the pressure to be more innovative, productive and flexible has never been greater. If you are currently employed, you may not be thinking about what this means to you … but you should.  Don’t be blindsided by an unexpected layoff.

Here are 6 critical questions to ask yourself to find out if your boss thinks you are irreplaceable.

Question #1:  What skills do I possess that meet the current and future demands of my job market?

It is crucial to understand the current wants and needs of the job market even when we are employed. We have no control over this factor but we can work to understand market trends and tweak our skills to align with them. Your boss is thinking about the capabilities of workers in your position, so make sure you are up-to-date.

Question #2: What am I doing to improve my performance for the facility I work for?

Seek to improve your personal skill set on a daily basis. Today’s successful employee is not simply doing what they are paid to do but looking to bring value to what they provide. Get noticed!

Question #3: What is the main thing I do during my work day that keeps my boss from replacing me right now?

If you want to measure how easy your boss thinks it is to replace you, you need to consider 1) current competition for your position and 2) how well you understand what your boss wants you to do. Staying competitive and doing what your boss needs done secures your position.

Question #4: Do I engage each day in the most important tasks associated with my position?

Strategic focus is looking at the day ahead, and deciding to spend your time on the most productive activities. Stop chasing rabbit trails. Choose the activities that have the greatest impact on your bottom line.

Question #5: Am I relying too much on digital technology to communicate with my boss?

Email won’t shed much light on your personality and admirable characteristics. It may be tempting to e-mail every communication to your boss, but picking up the phone, or walking into his or her office for a face-to-face will increase your positive interaction and relationship. Do face time. Not Apple FaceTime, but real face time.

Question #6: Do people seek my advice in my area of expertise?

Position yourself so that people you work with seek you out as an authority to make decisions in your area of expertise. When you become an expert inside and outside of your organization, you increase your value.

So, now you have an idea of what your boss is thinks about you. But what if you are the boss? Do your employees trust you to see the hard work they are doing? Next week we will talk about 3 qualities of a trustworthy boss.

(And for more info about being irreplaceable at work, read:  Invaluable: The Secret to Becoming Irreplaceable, by Dave Crenshaw.)

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