Much has changed over the past decade in the way jobs are structured and the way we think about work. With increasing adoption of information technology solutions and the growth of outsourcing, tedious and mindless work is less valuable than ever. This places many jobs, especially entry-level and individual contributor style jobs, at risk.
In years past, it was perhaps enough to come to work on time every day, complete the tasks you are assigned, and get along reasonably well with others in the office. If you want job security, it is increasingly probable that this is no longer going to be good enough. It’s an inefficient system and companies are realizing they can no longer afford to do things this way if they want to keep up with competition.
One way to create job security is to become indispensable to your boss or your employer. And one way to become indispensable to your boss or employer is to create something of value. (This is especially true if that new innovation requires ongoing support!) And it doesn’t have to be a breakthrough game-changing innovation. Even if it were, you would eventually outgrow your creation. If it’s good, it becomes institutionalized and expanded and others assume responsibility—you would no longer be needed to support it.
For this reason, job security is not a result of one big idea but rather an avoidance of getting complacent after your first home run. Ideas and projects come and go but continued innovation is valuable and companies always need more problem-solvers, innovators, and strategic thinkers. The good news is you probably already have the tools to pursue this style of work; moving from a reactive employee to a proactive problem-solver is more about your mindset than your skillset.
Here are several behaviors of serial innovators:
- Gaining initial trust by being both technically competent and reliable
- Thinking three steps ahead
- Curiosity drives interest and engagement
- Customer service orientation informs relevance for projects
- Identifying and focusing on solving current problems
- Critically evaluating your own performance
- Collecting data about your work and analyzing the results
- Always pursuing more efficient ways of doing things
- Creativity is less important than relevance and iteration
- Communicating successes and bringing visibility to your projects