While reading the book Discover the True North Fieldbook, I came across a thought-provoking question:
If I were to disappear, what would people miss?
If you think about this question a bit, it’s really asking each of us what we bring to the table. In other words, how do your unique qualities make a difference?
There are some people who immediately point to their work duties, such as preparing the budget, planning an important event, or even making tough decisions. While it’s true each of us has strong skills in certain disciplines, a valid argument is others can quickly be trained to do our day-to-day work.
Does this mean we are easily replaceable?
Good question! If you were to write five things your company would miss if you were no longer employed, what are they? What makes you so tough to replace? What are the values you bring to the table your company would have difficulty finding in other people?
What makes someone unique often has little to do with the expertise they possess. The fact is competence in almost any field can be found. A manager is replaced by another manager, and transition plans are built to change out CEOs.
Therefore, what makes people tough to replace are the intangibles, such as positive attitude, strong work ethic, commitment to fairness, and an unrelentless desire for excellence. Let’s briefly discuss each of these factors.
A positive attitude starts by being happy about the work we do, even when the work itself is tedious, difficult, and exhausting. A person with a positive attitude understands there are aspects of work that are cumbersome to perform, but this individual takes the work in stride. The person with a positive attitude motivates others to do their part mostly by leading by example, and not by directing others to fall in line.
Strong Work Ethic
I’ve learned over the years that top-notch employees are strongly focused on getting the work done. When others are struggling to do their part, they quickly step in to help. These individuals are focused on meeting the goals and objectives of the assigned work. Further, they are quick to praise the accomplishments of the group and much less concerned about individual accolades.
Commitment to Fairness
A quick story on fairness … I remember a situation where a talented co-worker had a strong accent and was sometimes difficult to understand when speaking English. Our team quickly embraced this individual, and we focused on the excellent work he delivered. Instead of judging him, we supported him. After a year or so, his English improved significantly, and he progressed within the organization.
Unrelentless Desire for Excellence
The people who are truly missed when leaving an organization are those who refuse to settle for mediocrity. My guess is this description fits only about 2% of the workforce. It’s a tough club to join, but everyone is eligible. These are the people who never say something like … “It’s good enough … ship it!” For these top-notch employees, it’s only good enough when it reaches the excellence stage, and they hold themselves accountable to meeting this high standard.
What is appreciated about your way of doing work? What effective standards do you use to get things done in the workplace? How is your level of excellence hard to match? How are you using intangible qualities to display your uniqueness?
By exploring these questions, you will identify how you are making an irreplaceable difference in the workplace.