By Mary-Ann Gontlin – USA

The economic climate continues to provide concern for many people with regard to job security and career opportunities.
Unfortunately, some people do not grasp a very important fact:  That companies today hire or retain people solely because they can effectively contribute to the success of their employer.

Therefore, as an employee your key goal is to find ways to grow your role so that you are considered to be a vital contributor to your department and ultimately to the company.

Here are four ways to grow your role and your visibility:

1.     Work on things that matter – observe what is important to your boss and the organization. Are you spending time on things that matter to your boss? On a recent coaching assignment where I was working with a high-potential, newly promoted manager, she complained that she had spent close to 60 hours over two weekends on a project that her boss barely commented on. She was disappointed he did not acknowledge her efforts. However, as I questioned her on the work she did and why she did it, she started to realize she had not verified with her boss that this was a high priority and that perhaps she should have delegated some of the work. The old adage “work smarter not harder” still is true.

2.    Elevate how you are viewed – be proactive! Ask to attend meetings by telling your boss that you want to be exposed to new things. Explain that you know you may not understand all that is being discussed but you will be observing and hearing what is important to him/her and the company and perhaps identify some ways you can do your job better or differently. Be willing to work through lunch or stay later to compensate for time spent at a meeting you asked to attend. Being seen at meetings, even if you don’t contribute in the beginning, sends a message to others that your boss views you as important to the team. Other department leaders may request your assistance on projects. It’s all about being your own PR agent.

3.     Act like you belong – dress the part, act the part. Even in today’s world of corporate casual, it is important that you are dressing in a way that says that you are a great company representative and you view yourself as vital to the company. Look at how those in the levels above you are dressing. Even if it’s Casual Friday and jeans are allowed, how are those in senior management dressed? Also, pay attention to how your boss, his/her peers and those in senior management write emails. Be sure you mirror their style and content.  Effective email communication is an important key to success.

4.     Be corporate savvy – be sure to participate in company events. Many people elect to skip the birthday cake in the conference room for a colleague because they have too much work to do. They think they are doing the “right thing” by working away at their jobs, but this circles back to the first point of working on the things that matter. Fifteen minutes away from your desk to hang in the conference room with others is time well-spent. You need to be seen as part of the team and as having the social graces needed to move to the next level.

Expanding your role and ensuring that you are considered to be a vital member of a company is your responsibility alone.  What things have you tried that resulted in improving your image at work and made you considered to be vital to your organization?