How easy are you to replace?
If you think doing a good job – or even a great job! – will make your position secure, life may prove you wrong and if it happens, you won’t like it.
I often hear “Because of politics and unfair preferences, I am underappreciated and feeling pushed out of my job. I am very good at what I do but some people above me are hostile and I can tell they want me gone.”
That hurts! When higher ed. administrators do their best, based on what they think is expected of them, but they don’t actually meet their supervisors’ expectations, their employment may be at risk.
Performing your job duties well does not make you highly valued or hard to replace. If you want to be someone who is highly appreciated and not easy to replace, you have to think far beyond your job responsibilities.
Here are 3 strategies you can start implementing today to become more valuable on your campus. The more valuable you’ll become, the more influence you’ll have, and the less likely you’ll be to find yourself job hunting because you fear your contract won’t be renewed.
1. Put your energy where it counts
Don’t wait for your bi-annual evaluation to hear from your supervisor how well you are doing. Ask questions regularly to identify opportunities to allocate your time to what matters most.
You may be working hard to meet goals that only matter to you and missing opportunities to contribute to goals important to your boss. So don’t just ask for feedback. Ask specific questions such as:
- What are your top goals right now and how can I help you reach them?
- What would you like to see happen in the next six months?
- Are you aware of any tensions with the staff or faculty that we could address before they became problematic?
- Are there departments you’d like to see working more closely together?
- Would you like me to assist you with some of your current projects?
Finding opportunities to contribute more and to make your supervisor look good will turn you into a highly valuable asset. You will also realize that there are things you can stop doing, or you can do less frequently, and reduce your workload. The point here isn’t to volunteer for too much but to stop doing things out of habit and strategically identify where you’ll have the greatest impact.
2. Be more likeable
It is common for higher ed. administrators to be so engrossed in their work that they get tense, create undue pressure, and become hard to like. There are many involuntary behaviors that can make an administrator very unpopular, such as feeling rushed and dismissing others; not taking the time to listen and understand others; being critical and pointing out every mistake without helping employees improve; feeling frustrated and making others feel unsafe; paying too much attention to details and forgetting to put relationships first, and so on and so forth.
Leadership is not a popularity contest but the truth is that you’ll have more impact and you’ll be more valued if people like you. Being liked doesn’t mean becoming a pleaser. It means being someone other people enjoy working with and supporting. Here are some ways to be more likeable:
- Always be respectful and courteous, no matter how busy or pressured you feel.
- Take genuine interest in others. Don’t make everything about you and remember to share the spotlight.
- Show appreciation and give encouragement.
- Be confident, humble, and credible.
- Know when to be serious and when to relax. Show your sense of humor and our human side.
- Be relatable. Let others see what you have in common and show some vulnerability. Build rapport and develop trust.
- Be flexible instead of trying to control everything.
- Be trustworthy and always keep your word.
Always keep in mind that people forget details of what was done or said but don’t forget how you made them feel. Make them feel good and they will want to keep you around!
3. Be known for something important
Have you ever seen someone who didn’t seem perfect for their position but were highly valued because something they brought to the table that most people can’t? Instead of trying to be pretty good at everything, identify something you can do masterfully and be known for it. You can control the narrative by developing a personal brand and showing very strategically why you would be hard to replace.
Are you exceptionally good at teamwork and conflict resolution? Do you have an exceptional level of influence on your faculty? Are you a highly resourceful person who can find a solution to every problem? Do you have an impressive track record attracting donations, grants, or perhaps awards that elevate your institution’s image? Do you have relationships in the community that allow you to open doors for your organization?
With my clients, I share dozens of strategies to become nearly impossible to replace, but start with these 3 and you’ll gain more recognition and appreciation. No job is truly secure. You could see a change in leadership or a change in culture and feel that your job is suddenly at risk. Don’t wait for threats to surface. Become more valuable now. You have nothing to lose and a lot to gain.
If you’d like to talk with me about your goals and how I can help you succeed faster, click here to schedule a complimentary call.
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If you think this article sounds good but you are too busy to even begin to think about adding any task to your workload, this is where you need to start.
You can do it!
About the author: Dr. Audrey Reille has empowered thousands of professionals through one-on-one coaching, group coaching, speaking engagements, online courses, and interviews on international telesummits. Audrey is the go-to coach for leaders in higher education administration. She empowers them to thrive by reducing stress, optimizing strategies, improving professional relationships, and developing a strong and empowered mindset.