Becoming Indispensable

• No matter what you're asked to do, do it willingly and with a smile. Be a "can do" type of person and the first to say, "No problem, I'll take care of that for you!" Be the best gofer, receptionist, photocopier, mail-sorter, lunch-getter anyone's ever seen. Give it your all. Do more than anyone would possibly expect of you.

• Follow through! When asked to do a task, let your supervisor know when it's been completed (before he asks you). If you can't get to that task right away (for whatever reason), let your supervisor know as soon as possible, so he can assign it to someone else. When someone is counting on you to complete an assignment, don't wait until you're asked to say you couldn't do it or didn't have time.

• Taking "follow through" in a slightly different direction: if you are asked to do something and you run into a road block—can't get an answer, can't find something or reach someone—look for ways around the road block. There's usually more than one way to obtain the information you need or to find what or whom you're looking for. Ask your co-workers, contacts and/or friends for advice and search out resources on the Internet and in reference books. In some situations, "no" just isn't an alternative; and you have to find a way to make something happen. But if your supervisor allows you a little leeway and you've absolutely exhausted all your resources and are still at a dead end, let him know ASAP, so he can give you some suggestions or possibly alter his directions a bit.

• Anticipate the needs of others, and be one step ahead of them. For example, years ago when I was coordinating, Phil Wylly yelled from the other room, "I can't find Dick Church's number. Can you please get it for me?" Well, I not only walked into his office with Dick's number, but under the number I had written, "Dick's wife's name is Jeannie." He had spoken to Jeannie before, but I knew he'd forgotten her name; and if she were to be the one to answer the phone, I knew he'd want to be able to say "Hi, Jeannie . . . "

• Be polite, don't be loud and don't use vulgar language.

• Be sensitive to the needs of the person you're working for.

• When your "to do" list becomes overwhelming, prioritize each individual task, and ask yourself how each task will affect that day's work—and then the next day's work. What has to be prepared before the 10:00 a.m. conference call your boss has scheduled? What has to be completed before the FedEx guy shows up at 5:00 p.m.? What has to be done before you go home for the day? What has to be prepared for the next day's work? If you don't have a good sense of priorities, go through the list with your supervisor, and let him help you organize your list.

• Before you go home each evening, go through that day's "to do" list with your supervisor and report on the status of each item on the list. Ask him what's on tap for the next day.

• Be willing (and eager) to come in early and stay after hours, without being asked!

• Let your supervisor know where you are at all times. Check in often when out.

When you're done with a task and have nothing else to do, ask what you can do next. Volunteer to help others in the office, find a need and fill it (clean the copy and kitchen areas, check for faxes, make sure the copier, fax machine(s) and office printers are all fully stocked with paper, make a fresh pot of coffee, etc.). Never just sit and wait for something to do.

• When anything changes, be aware of the domino effect, and consider the other aspects of the production/project that will need to be altered as well.

• Check the copying you do to make sure all pages are there and in the correct order, each page is completely legible, the holes are on the correct (left) side and all pages that are supposed to be stapled are (you'd be surprised how many people don't check).

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