It should be intuitive that if you are not adding value to your company, it won’t be long before your presence is no longer required. However, unexamined routine can lead to complacency and infuse a task with a greater significance than it may actually warrant. Hence, you might not see the Ax Man Cometh.
Would you purposely overlook the views of your customers? Ignore the feedback on a new product? Disregard the needs of your local community or requests for support from your colleagues? Of course not. Neither then should you take your relevancy to a business, company, team for granted. Conditions morph, products evolve, customers have a change of heart. Any one of these situations could impact your job, tweak the trajectory of your career. What are you doing to be and to remain relevant?
- know what’s important to your boss
- be the go-to person for your peers
- know how to make others successful
- have a sense of the overall economy
- work on your influencing skills
- be caught off-guard
- be late to the game
- forget to look over your shoulder
- disregard the community
- lose your integrity
What are his/her initiatives for the next year? Make sure you are integrated into at least two of those projects. Be a reliable, productive team player in getting results, completing projects on time and within budgets.
Make it known and reinforce that you are accessible. Also, be an expert in some things. Later, when you are promoted to be the boss, your peers are likely to be supportive as they will have a level of knowledge of who you are, how you work, and the confidence that they can get to you if they need to. The best way to be considered irreplaceable is to be so.
Consider how you or your team can support others’ ideas. No employee is an island but building bridges is not enough; make sure you know how to maintain them. Going the extra mile can help you be viewed as a resource to all departments.
You don’t have to be day trading in your spare time but you should have a working knowledge of daily headlines, particularly those business items or economic issues that could impact what your company does. You should also know the key drivers of your business, not just those of your department or function.
Your ability to influence others, up, down and sideways, directly impacts your relevancy to your company, team, boss. When you offer a contribution, be concise, to the point, with 1-2 examples of how your suggestions might address the issue at hand. Too many good ideas have been drowned out by overzealous chatter.
Know what your competition is up to. Are they in an acquisitive mode? Could your company fit what they might be looking for? You don’t want to be caught unaware if a competitor makes a run at your firm. However, if that does happen, make sure that you are part of the team that an acquirer wants to keep. Be in-the-know on the inside and you become key to the success of the acquisition.
In business, relevancy and timing go hand in hand. If your engineering team has come up with a game-changing tweak to a product, chances are it won’t be long before someone else figures it out as well. This is not the time to be shy. Step up and make things happen.
Feedback on a product or service has inherent value that can affirm expectations, create marketing opportunities or help make real-time adjustments to floundering products. Know that your ability to address customer needs (short- and longer term) is directly connected to your relevancy to them.
Lead your team in support of a local community initiative. And, in an age of tweets and posts, it takes a minor effort to let friends and family know that your company is connected to your community in meaningful and varied ways.
Play for the long haul. Even the smallest mistake can take years to overcome. Meantime, your relevancy is up for question. Related to this, don’t be caught at the water cooler. There are a variety of reasons why this is not a good idea but key for relevancy is that you don’t want your boss, peers and subordinates to have a visual of you loafing around. Be engaged and stay engaged. Leave the loafing to your living room couch.
To be relevant, you must evolve with changes to your business whether they be macro economic issues or the leadership roster. Key is knowing the business drivers of your company, recognizing how you and others can contribute to those drivers and creating pathways to make that happen, directly and through other people.