As long as you work for an entity you don’t control, there’s always going to be a chance you can be let go and replaced.
There can be many scenarios in which people can fear being replaced. Contract work for example, is prevalent in professional culture. Once employees come close to fulfilling their contractual obligations, the negotiations of retaining their expertise begin. Instances of when you want to on-board as a full-time employee without your employer reciprocating this common interest are painful. There can be a number of reasons why your employer may not want to continue their relationship with you, with most being out your control. If you live in fear of being replaced at work, you first need to establish a list of things you have absolute control over.
It is always a good idea to spin multiple plates in relation to professional opportunities. Make it a habit to stay in touch with your previous employers, consistently improve and send out your resume, and do not expect your current employer to remain loyal. Your current employer is only as loyal as their plans and budget allow them to be. They may respect and love you as an individual, but everyone has a job to do, and their job can simply be to sever their relationship with you. Always be looking out for the next thing on the horizon, and don’t worry too much about trying to control your employer’s respect for you as an employee.
With that being said, below are a couple of best-practice measures you should operate by in your day-to-day efforts in the workplace. Lowering your chances of being replaced doesn’t come with easy-to-follow shortcuts. On top of being an honest and hard-working employee, you should be smart in how you utilize your honesty and hard work.
Carving Out a Niche and Mastering It
A common misconception is that one must be a jack of all trades to be considered valuable in the workplace. There are people who try to be the best presenters, the best Excel users, and the best stakeholder relationship managers. An argument can be made that these people are the easiest to replace. If you go out trying to be a master in all aspects of your job, you’ll become a master of none. Your company will always be able to find people who are better than you in the individual facets of your job should you attempt to master all of them.
Decide on what you’re best at, lean towards taking on more responsibility in that realm, and work to master it. Swallow your pride of trying to be the most valuable employee in areas of your job you are not good at or passionate about. Always be improving on your weaknesses, but don’t be wishful in your attempt to master all possible skills at work. As each day goes by, make it known to others that you enjoy specific niches of your work, and show your dedication at becoming great in producing output in those areas. Your mastery will grow to become respected, and you’ll be the go-to person for any issues that arise in that area of expertise.
With this approach, you’ll begin to learn the nuances of your company/organization as they relate to that niche, and how they affect the details of your work. It will become increasingly more difficult for you to be replaced by an external applicant, as they will not be close in matching your organizational knowledge related to the niche that you’ve carved out.
All of our tasks and responsibilities can be divided up into niches. It’s difficult to advise you on the specifics of your position in this article, but these niches surely exist within your everyday tasks. If you’re an IT Help Desk Specialist, maybe you’re adept at helping remote employees set up their VPN and the organizational nuances that go along with that. If you’re working at a fast food joint, perhaps you’ve become a master in efficiently taking truck deliveries and getting things organized in the back.
Carve out a niche from the more general tasks at work. Ensure that it is valuable to your employer, and don’t be afraid to go above and beyond from what’s expected of you. The key to this piece of advice is developing organizational knowledge in the context of your company. The deeper you ingrain yourself within your organization, the harder it’ll become to replace you.
Personalize Your Approach
Once you’ve carved out your niche and mastered your output within it, it’ll come time to add your personal touches. Your personal touches are things only you can provide at the workplace. These are personal traits which are very difficult to discover during interviews, and can only become evident as you get to know a person. Being humorous and having a knack for relieving stressful situations is an example of a personalized skill. Another is the ability to stay calm under pressure and perform in a calculated and precise manner should everything around you go awry.
Don’t hesitate in adding your personal touches to the work that you do. Make sure they’re encouraged by your superiors, and if they are, you’ll increase the likeness of the total package you provide at work. You’ll not only master a specific domain, but will add a personalized touch to it which others simply can’t replace. Your organization can therefore only hope they can find someone to replace you in all facets of your skill set, but will never be sure in their approach.