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VOL. 44 | NO. 30 | Friday, July 24, 2020

Being the go-to person at your job is an enviable role

By Terri Schlichenmeyer

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Yes! If only your boss would say that more often. Yes, you get a raise. Yes, we’re putting you in charge of the team. Yes, you’re doing great! Yes, there’s a promotion in your future.

You love hearing the word “yes,” but as you’ll see in “The Art of Being Indispensable at Work” by Bruce Tulgan, maybe you should say it more, too.

In today’s work world, working remotely and flexibly but collaboratively is more important than ever. You can’t just pop over to a cubicle next door for answers anymore. Nope, these days, getting help might mean Zooming someone from a different department in another state.

Sounds like it should make things easier, right?

It’s doesn’t. The reasons, Tulgan says, are that you may feel overextended and unaccountable. Everything suddenly seems to be your job, and nobody likes working this way. So how do you gain the influence you need to move things in a better direction?

Two words: Serving others.

There are many traits of a servant leader and go-to person, Tulgan says.

“The Art of Being Indispensable at Work: Win Influence, Beat Overcommitment, and Get the Right Things Done”

by Bruce Tulgan

c.2020, Harvard Business Review

$28

256 pages

A go-to person is valuable to everybody inside and outside their immediate department. They know their stuff and they know how to work hard. They’ll happily accept responsibility and can follow orders. They hold real influence with their co-workers, can communicate with people at all levels and they always make sure the right thing is done in any situation.

It takes a special person to step into this role, but if you seem to be headed in that direction you can hasten the curve by remaining businesslike in all situations.

Take ownership of an issue through commitment. Be sure that you communicate often and clearly with your supervisor, especially if there might be a problem. Know that “yes” and “no” both require big decision-making and that sometimes there’s a third answer.

And finally, learn to use your go-to skills for more than just work. Those attributes, for example, will make you someone else’s favorite customer.

Reading “The Art of Being Indispensable at Work” might take a little extra effort. Written obviously before the pandemic, it might be necessary to convert information while reading by drawing parallels between jobs as they were a year ago and employment now.

Still, working remotely doesn’t eliminate problems, and the author gives readers the tools they need to make the connections between the two situations, although it isn’t always clear exactly who this book is written for. Sometimes, its information seems advanced, while at other times, if seems more for entry-level workers.

Under normal circumstances, such as when mentors are immediately available, that might not matter. Now it’s another thing for readers to beware as they absorb the information here and take comfort in the knowledge that despite the extra effort, this book may set them up for all the right things in an unknown future.

So, whether you work from home or a workplace or your circumstances waver, should you read “The Art of Being Indispensable at Work”?

Mmm, yes!

Terri Schlichenmeyer’s reviews of business books are read in more than 260 publications in the U.S. and Canada.

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