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The Boomer Bulletin - 2012
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Become Irreplaceable In Your Firm Today!

Posted By Sue Thiemann, Wednesday, January 2, 2013

How are you feeling about your job today?  Are you burned out?  Do you do an incredible amount of work just to keep your company competitive?  What frustrates you most?  Are you underappreciated or undervalued?  Respect, do you get the respect you feel you deserve?  How can you get more respect? What else can you do?

I really love my job.  I believe in our company and the services and products we provide. It’s a great company but maybe there is another opportunity somewhere else? Wait, if I love what I am doing and the company I work for, why would I consider looking anywhere else?

We all like to feel that we are of value and productive within our company and among our co-workers.  So what can I do to get the respect I desire?  The answer is, make myself invaluable to the company, even irreplaceable.  So, you don’t like everything about your job? If you make yourself invaluable, your boss may eventually take notice and a new opportunity will come.  Be the person your company can’t live without. Be a top producer. Be different. Be the "go-to” person.  Make yourself irreplaceable!

In the book Invaluable: The Secret to Becoming Irreplaceable by Dave Crenshaw, he follows a fictional character who is unhappy with his new job but finds wisdom from his visits with his mentor who challenges him to become invaluable, even irreplaceable to his company.

What are two things that would need to change for you to love your job?  More money?  More respect? More authority?  More responsibility? What have you done to merit any of those changes?  First learn all you can about your current job.  You went to college to learn your industry and field, however, you did not learn how to work in your position in your firm. Learn all you can about your current position and about how to become more valuable within that role. 

It’s important to understand that the amount of respect, money or responsibility you want will be in direct proportion to: 1) the demand for what you do; 2) your ability to do it; and 3) the difficulty of replacing you. You can only control the job you do and the quality at which you do it. So do your job better than anyone else.

How do you become invaluable or irreplaceable?  Reduce the less valuable activities you perform and focus on the most valuable activities. Your most valuable activities are the things you do that provide the most value to your company.  When you focus on your most valuable activities, both your ability and the difficulty of replacing you are increased. 

Which activities are you doing now that are wasting time? Which activities are just busywork and aren’t really contributing to the overall success of the company? You may need to discuss this with your manager/boss. Get their opinion.  What is it that you do that makes you of most value to your boss? What separates you from all the other employees?   Dave Crenshaw referred to these as:  

  • MVA’s: Most Valuable Activities
  • LVA’s: Less Valuable Activities

An example of MVA’s and LVA’s are expense reports. Expense reports for my boss, Sandra Wiley, COO and Shareholder at Boomer Consulting are LVA’s.  For Sandra, time spent on expense reports is a non-revenue generating activity, a low priority activity and not in line with her best abilities.  For me, as the accounting administrator, they are a MVA.  In order to invoice clients in a timely manner, I need to receive the expense reports.  Solution: I create and maintain the expense reports for Sandra; submit them to her for additions and approval.  We both get what we need in a timely manner and we both become more efficient by focusing on our unique abilities.  Now that makes both of us more valuable.

Again, the 3 things that determine how valuable we are: 

  1. Demand for what you do 
  2. Ability to do it
  3. Irreplaceability or difficulty of replacing you

You have little control over demand, so you need to focus on your ability to do something (_____ you fill in the blank) and the difficulty of replacing you.  When you focus on your MVA’s, both your ability to do whatever it is and the difficulty of replacing you are increased.

Have you considered how your firm is replaceable?  How can you make your firm irreplaceable to your clients? What are you doing to make your firm the accounting firm of choice? What can you do today to make your client’s view your firm as irreplaceable?

Traps you may encounter are anything that causes you to spend more time than you should in an LVA. Things like interruptions, random assignments, getting caught up in minor details and just not knowing how to delegate properly.  You’re naturally drawn toward them because they are usually simple and easy to replace and take less effort.  MVA’s take more effort to get going, more practice, more skill and more inertia.  The LVA’s are like a sand bag pulling your balloon down vs. the MVA’s which are lifting you up as you focus on your unique abilities and activities. So when you have more activities, it’s harder to focus on the most valuable ones.  How do you get out of this spiral? You may need to offload some sandbags.  

Offloading activities to consider:

  • Personal systems: Review your daily mode of operation.  Arrive at work; login to your computer; check with a co-worker (chit chat); make coffee; check with another co-worker, etc. Early in my career with Boomer Consulting, I started the habit of chit-chatting with Sandra first thing in the morning until finally she said, "Sue, I am into my work day and this chit-chatting takes away from my productivity.”  What a slap in the face and I thank her for doing so. I realize I was doing one of those "just wasting time” activities mentioned above that is not adding to my value with the company and certainly not making me irreplaceable. 
  • What about busywork activities?  Many are a necessity but prioritizing and combining several busywork activities into a set time period increases your productivity.  An example is email.  Everyone receives notices daily, hourly, etc.; I could stop every time I receive an email but this would be an interruption.  Interruptions reduce efficiencies in work produced. Schedule a time once an hour to review and respond to emails. When you focus on your MVA, both your ability to do whatever it is and the difficulty of replacing you are increased. 

What are some of your busy work activities that could be more efficiently managed? Other activities to review for offloading would be business processes, time management and delegating specific jobs. The last and most costly would be to hire additional staff.

Striving to be irreplaceable is about taking control of your own destiny. It’s up to you to evaluate your position within your firm and determine what needs to be done to increase your value.  Take charge and start becoming irreplaceable today!

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