Bakers Journal

Proving Your Value

February 6, 2020
By Michele Wierzgac, MSEd

Strategies for remaining indispensable

In an age of automation, having the skills to remain indispensable can take you a long way. PHOTO © Studio Romantic / Adobe Stock

Labour costs comprise 80 per cent or more of a bakery’s operating costs. This fact clearly creates another problem among workers —protecting your job.

How can you remain indispensable at work? By bringing attention to the value of what you do. How? By focusing on where your company is going rather than on the procedural or day-to-day maintenance issues of your position. Begin thinking of how you contribute to the success of the bakery. Do you know what the top business issues are within your business?

1. See Their Point of View
If it is the cost of labour that is forcing companies to cut back within your department, get together with your boss and figure out ways to merge systems, cut costs, negotiate spending, or merge tasks between departments. Often in companies where there are duplicating efforts, redundancies can be eliminated.

2. Talk in Sound Bites
Concentrate on improving communication with your employer. Think about how your listener will receive the message. Put yourself in the listener’s shoes and anticipate how he or she might react. Learn to talk in sound bites—quick and fast. Bosses want the summary, not details.


3. Find a Mentor
To be the most indispensable employee you can be, get a coach. Surround yourself with mentors and coaches from inside and outside your industry. Look around your informal and formal networks and figure out who you would like to emulate. Whose skills and career path do you admire? Then just ask if he or she will mentor you. Most of the time, people are flattered that they have been asked. It does not take much time, perhaps just a 45-minute phone call once every three months. You tell them what is going on and they give you simple advice to get back on track.

4. Recruit Brand Champions
You are a brand! Who supports you? Who are the people that always spreading the good news about you? These are your brand champions. It is critical that you update your friends, family, colleagues, parents at PTA meetings, and anyone else you know about what you are doing or what you want to do. Your networks are filled with the power and credibility to spread the word about you. To begin with, you need to understand the difference between formal networks (professional organizations that you pay dues to, with regulations, meetings and guidelines) and informal networks (people you meet in the lobby of a hotel or on an airplane or through hobbies). Social networks are a hybrid of the two. You need to communicate to your champions about your work, your talents, and changes you are thinking about. If you need a favour, ask, and reciprocate by asking what you can do for them in return. Send out regular alerts through your grapevine and share your success stories.

5. Safeguard Your Reputation
A brand creates an image of trust and loyalty over time. It takes years to build a name, reputation, and networks, and a minute to lose it all. See what others are saying about you. The key to leadership is listening to criticism and self-correcting. When a mentor gives you criticism about something you are perhaps not thinking about, it takes courage to change. You must earn credibility, not expect it. Be prepared to spend years on earning credibility.

Every workplace has the one employee that everyone seeks answers to their problems. They know everyone and they know how to get things done. Strive to be that one shining employee by following these steps. Remember, being a key member of a team has the biggest benefit—job security.

Michele Wierzgac is a leadership expert, keynote speaker, and author of the forthcoming book, Ass Kicking Women: How They Leverage Their Informal Networks For Success. For more info, contact Michele Wierzga at:

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