Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Want Job Security? Become a Utility Player Pt. 2

On Monday's post I discussed how utility players have a better shot at keeping their jobs during trying economic times because the companies they work for can typically count on them more. They demonstrate more versatility, more willingness to learn and of course show their value through action by just plain doing more than the "average" employee. It is through their actions and their measurable willingness to take on more that makes it easy for management to know who to keep and who to let go when times are tough.

So how do you become a utility player?

Great question! In fact the first step to becoming a utility player for your company is by asking questions just like that and many more like:

How do I do more? How can I learn more? How can I develop the skill that this department or that department needs? Who do I need to shoulder up with to learn more? Who is willing to take the time to teach me? Who is struggling and needs help? What needs to be done that no one else wants to do? What gaps does my company have that I can fill? What skills do I possess that no one has yet seen? What would the boss like to see? What does the boss need? What does my team lack? Where are we dropping the ball as an organization? Where else can my skills and experience be used? Where is the mop?

The list of questions are actually endless. No matter what questions you may need to be asking, it's the answers to them that will give you the first clue as to how to identify and become one of your company's utility players. Think about it, who on your team right now steps up to ask these questions? I suspect few if any I right?

The quickest way to get yourself noticed and appreciated by the higher ups is to start asking these questions and many more like them. Listen to what answers are given and then volunteer to step up and take a spot at helping in the areas that need help. Sure, sure, I can hear many of the naysayers now saying, "I already have too much on my plate. I could not possibly take on more. They don't pay me enough to do more." Blah, blah, blah.

I read somewhere recently that the average American worker only works an average of 5.5 hours per day (can't put my finger on the article at present but will update in the future if I can locate it again). The rest of the time is squirreled away playing on the Internet, text messaging, taking personal phone calls and a myriad or other non-work related activities. Is it any wonder why the excuses pile up? More work means less play and that makes Jack and Jane dull boys and girls.

No. It just means Jack and Jane are the easy first targets when it comes time to start slashing the red ink.

The choice is yours of course but I am here to tell you that demonstrating a willingness to learn and take on more will be one of the best ways to get yourself recognized, noticed and valued by the boss or business owner. Heck just asking some of the questions I have outlined above will set you so far ahead of the rest of the sheep that good things are bound to come from just asking.

Try it. What do you have to lose? The utility player isn't playing for the glory, they are just filling a role that needs to be filled. At minimum you pick up some more work experience that you might not otherwise have gotten and of course define yourself in the hearts and minds of those who matter as a "go to" guy or gal. Seems like a fairly even trade especially when it comes time to see who needs to stay and who needs to go. I myself would rather be the utility player that is uncuttable - what about you?

In my next post we will discuss how being a good utility player can help you Ripple your way to better, stronger relationships with your prospects and clients.

Ripple On!!!


Sue said...

Okay, I've got to speak up. I've been doing this for a few years now. I didn't want it to sound like bragging, because it's not a pride thing. But I saw how my previous employers reacted to my squirreling and excuses in the past. Then, a coworker called me lazy. It really hurt. I vowed to not be 'lazy' again.

If I take a break these days, its because I really need to. But my job demands I keep moving, keep busy. I'm on a deadline every night. I clean a local business, and if I slack off, jobs don't get finished before the business opens. That would be bad. I've also done the learning thing. Recently, my boss brought me a piece of equipment to use on the floors. I loved learning how it works!

She loves it that I wanted to learn. I see the correlation here.

I also feel I would severely limit myself if I never pushed a little more each day. I never want to stop learning, improving, enriching my self.

terri said...

I loved seeing Sue's comment above. I was hesitant to admit that I saw myself as the utility player when I read both this and the last post. It started out as simply being happy to be working for such a great company, but then I saw some very tangible rewards as a result. My company is now facing some trying times and as i look around the office, I see the other utility players and I also see those that are taking advantage of the slowing pace to continue "playing." Quite often lately I have worried about who could be facing those potential layoffs. I feel sorry for those who don't realize their livlihood could be on the line due to their habits. Great timing for this post!

Steve Harper said...


Thanks for the comment. I love your attitude and your approach. There is no doubt that you are creating real value with your boss that will be appreciated and recognized no doubt!

Keep up the good work and thanks for commenting!

Ripple On!!!


Steve Harper said...


How would I have ever guessed that you were a utility player? Doesn't surprise me in the least!

I know what you mean about feeling sorry for those that don't see their potential undoing by their current actions. Oh how I can relate with a current project I am working on at present.

You just keep working the way you do and there will be no doubt you will be a valuable asset to your company for as long as you choose to grace them with your amazing skills - and yes, I know they are amazing!

Ripple On my friend!