How to Be an Indispensable Employee

Posted by on Oct 4, 2012 in ComLead, Organizational Leadership

“I’m TIRED of answering this question so I’d rather write it out and just point people to this post.

Let me start in reverse.”

So begins the blog post where Noah Kagan, former Facebook Product Manager, explains how he was infamously fired from the company as it was poised for breakthrough — and lost $100 million in the process. With honesty and good humor, he looks back on his performance and even agrees his termination was a smart move for the company.

For any employee looking aiming to add value to a growing company, Kagan’s on ideas on being a valuable employee ring true.

The Grower, The Show-er and The Vet

According to Kagan, now an executive with, there are three types of employees:

1- Grower. Someone who starts when the company is small and improves / adapts their skills as the company scales.

2- Show-er. Someone who can be good for the company where they are now but NOT where they are going.

3- Veteran. They’ve done it before and it’s second nature for them to teach you how to do it in your company.”

None of these profiles is inherently better or worse for a company. In any organization, the important characteristics bosses look for in an employee depends on the context. When Kagan was at Facebook, it was a small, quickly-growing organization that was still solidifying its niche in the tech world. For a “show-er” like Kagan, the inability to adapt quickly made him a reactionary in an industry that relies on forward thinking and flexibility.

Adaptability is Key

Employees who want to grow with their companies are committed to being adaptable. By adopting the organization’s vision as their own, they work for the future of the company – not just for current initiatives. Kagan says he failed here when he stuck to his own goals rather than aligning with the company:

“”I wanted attention, I put myself before Facebook. I hosted events at the office, published things on this blog to get attention and used the brand more than I added to it.”

Great employees understand that they can achieve their professional goals and make the company more successful. Employees who grow with company – constantly learning new skills, building connections, and staying ahead of new ideas – are indispensable. Kagan says, “Constantly ask yourself how can I make the company more valuable. You do that and you will never get fired.”


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