Are you important to your company?

By Michael Virardi

I recently read a joke on LinkedIn that I would love to share with you!

It was about a big corporation that hired several cannibals. “You are all part of our team now,” said the HR manager during the welcome briefing. “You get all the usual benefits and you can go to the cafeteria for something to eat, but please don’t eat any of the other employees.”

The cannibals promised they would not.

A few weeks later, the cannibals’ boss remarked, “You’re all working very hard, and I’m satisfied with you. However, one of our secretaries has disappeared. Do any of you know what happened to her?” The cannibals all shook their heads, “No,” they said.

After the boss left, the leader of the cannibals said to the others angrily, “Right, which one of you idiots ate the secretary?” A hand rose hesitantly in admission. “You fool!” said the leader. “For weeks, we’ve been eating managers and no one noticed anything, but noooooo, you had to go and eat someone important!”

As consultant Chris Gaborit asks: “Are you important to your company? Would you be missed you if you were no longer there?”

To become important,or at least someone who would be missed if eaten by a cannibal (!), it is imperative–as my friend Konstantinos Kintzios from Boussias Communications says –that you “go brand yourself”. This requires both continuous effort and a conscious plan of action. To help you on your way to branding yourself I have come up with the R.E.S.T. principle, which will help you REST assured that, despite unfavourable market conditions, you will not only get to keep your job but, at the same time, you will excel at it.

R.E.S.T. stands for:

  • – Building Relationships
  • – Creating Engagement
  • – Enhancing Skills
  • – Gaining and Maintaining Trust

Building Relationships: My grandfather has a saying: “It is not what you know or whom you know but who knows you!” Building genuine professional – or personal– relationships allows more and more people to get to know you both as a professional and as a person… you become known. This is what the age of connection is all about. It is through these relationships and via your personal branding –if done correctly– that your company will become known and, hopefully, land deals that will not only make the business reputable but profitable as well. You will be responsible for the positive word of mouth –or in today’s world, word of mouse– advertising that your company receives and you can REST assured that it will go a long way towards branding you as an important person within your company.

Creating Engagement: One of the most vivid examples of creating engagement is Dr. Richard Hughes who had hundreds of patients queuing for more than four hours to say goodbye to him when he retired in early May 2014 after 32 years of practice. According to the Daily Mail, “Dr. Hughes was described as an affectionate doctor who was adored for the way he took time to get to know people and talk through their issues– rather than to simply treat patients as ‘a number’.” Creating engagement is the follow-up to building relationships. It requires time, effort, consistency of service and a genuine concern for taking relationships onto the next level. In other words, creating engagement. Management consultant Jim Collins recalls how civic leader John Gardner sat him down one day and said, “It occurs to me, Jim, that you spend too much time trying to be interesting. Why don’t you invest more time being interested?”

Enhancing Skills: In the world of entertainment they say that you are good as your last performance. [Tweet “In the world of business, you are as good as your present performance! “]Your present performance is determined by your attitude and your skills. In a world where the only constant is change,your attitude towards acquiring skills is the determining factor between branding yourself or ‘burning’ yourself. Branding requires becoming a person of value and skills are the pathway to achieving that.

Gaining and Maintaining Trust: How do you build and maintain trust? You build it, first and foremost, by delivering on your promises and you maintain it by being consistentwith the overall expectations of your internal and external customers. One of the best examples of gaining trust and delivering on a promise is the University College London Business Professor, Richard Pettinger, with whom I had the good fortune to work. He has gained the trust of his ‘ customers’ (i.e. his students) by always replying extremely promptly to their requests, being available and willing to consult and guide them, polite and charming with his manners and, of course, an expert in his chosen field by authoring over 40 books on his subject. Branding is a unique promise of value and Richard not only knows that but he practises it. To become someone ‘important’ within your company, you first need to become important in the lives of the people you serve.

Apply the R.E.S.T. principle to your professional and personal lives and REST assured that you won’t be eaten alive in this competitive world of ours where products and people are being cannibalised on a daily basis!

Reprinted with permission from Michael Virardi