The burning question for the 80 or so businesses I am involved in, and with the people I lead, is this: how do we stay relevant through the massive change that is upon us? This ‘change’ thing is pretty damned confusing, and frightening. When the rate of change inside a company is slower than the rate of change outside that company - then the end is in sight. So too with our careers. If we are not evolving our ‘value proposition’, then the clock is ticking before we will no longer be ‘on the team.’ Harsh, but true. But stay calm, here is one idea to help shape the way you respond to the challenges of change - as a business, and as an individual. It’s very simple. Become Indispensable. Huh? Sounds pretty straight forward, but how?
Remember, clients do NOT see you as a partner. Outraged? Here’s why I say this. If I stuff up with my clients two times in a row (maybe three at a pinch), what happens? Yes - Kapow! I am fired. Now in my marriage I stuff up three times a week (sometimes three times a day apparently), but it survives. There is just more at stake. One is a supplier relationship. The other, a partnership. Trite example perhaps, but hopefully you get the point. So we have to become absolutely indispensable to clients. We do this by becoming Trusted Advisors. Here we build perceptions with clients around three things:
- Credibility - we are genuinely credible in what we say, what we claim expertise in, as counsellors
- Reliability - we are proven as being true to our word in all we do, accessible and consistent
- Intimacy - our relationship with the client goes beyond just an ‘order taker’- we build genuine bonds as individuals
But it’s not enough. We also have to become proactive business problem solvers. We have to know the client business so well that we can identify issues, and take proactive, relevant ideas to the client that solve problems. Do that, and you become indispensable.
For our careers
We have to constantly be working on our professional personal ‘brands’, evolving our offers. Remember, if you are green, you grow; if you are ripe, you rot. Do not rest on your laurels. What got you to where you are today will NOT get you to where you need or want to be tomorrow. So, get very serious about working on yourself as a project- work on yourself harder than you do your job. Take your brand seriously. Here’s how:
- Do I deliver powerful outcomes? Am I someone who delivers results, consistently, on time, on budget? How can I sharpen my efficiency and effectiveness? How can I be an ‘outcomes’ ninja?
- Am I expert in something? What is it about me that my colleagues will say I am particularly good atm- that they turn to me for help in? How can I deepen my expertise in that area and become even better and more famous? How can I add a new area of expertise and depth to my capabilities toolkit?
- Do I think enough about, and have a point of view about, the future? It’s not enough delivering great outcomes and being an expert in something, I also need to have one eye firmly on ‘what next’, and to alert my supervisors about the trends and likely changes afoot. They are so busy they don’t always have time for this. If I am known as someone thinking ahead - anticipating and alerting- then I am even more valuable and indispensable.
- Do my colleagues see me as supportive and trustworthy? All the above matters naught if I am not seen as a good colleague and someone people want beside them. Am I doing enough to build relationships, do the right thing, supporting others?
Become indispensable... as a business to your customers, as an individual to your colleagues and supervisors. Get started now. Make a list. Set deadlines. Review regularly. Do this, and I’ll see you in the future – happy, successful, fulfilled!
About the author
Chris Savage is an acknowledged leader of the Asia/Pacific public relations and communications industry.
Chris is Chief Operating Officer of STW Group, the largest listed marketing content and communications services group in the southern hemisphere with $400 million in annual revenue. He sits on the board of more than 70 group companies and is a much sought after speaker and trainer.