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How to ask your boss for more responsibility
Whether you’re chasing a salary increase, promotion, title change, or you’re proactively seeking more experience under your belt, asking your boss for more responsibility can be a tricky task. On one hand, you want to prepare for the next stage of your career. On the other hand, you need to make sure you’re still meeting expectations within your current scope of work.
Balancing more responsibility while managing your existing workload can be challenging, which is why it’s important to have a plan in mind to help you move forward. If you’re looking to step up in your career, here are a few tips on how to ask for more responsibility at work – and get it.
Be very clear on what responsibilities you want to take on
Before you speak to anyone in your organisation, you must be crystal clear on the skills you want to develop, or the areas where you’d like to gain more experience. Without this, you risk taking on tasks and investing time in projects that won’t help you reach your end goal.
If you’re looking to take on a new promotion, look at the skills and responsibilities of your co-workers who currently hold those roles. This will help you get an idea of what you’ll need to upskill in. From there, you can start to identify exactly where you should focus your extra time and effort to help you move up in your career.
Alternatively, if you’re looking for a pay rise, you’ll need to identify where you can add value for the company to justify an increase in salary. Focus on projects or tasks that can help the business save on time or increase profitability.
Look for opportunities with business impact
More responsibility can be a good thing but you need to demonstrate how your extra projects or tasks will add value for your company. Once you’ve listed out the responsibilities you potentially want to take on, go through and evaluate the benefits for the business. Then pick and choose the ones that you believe will deliver the most tangible impact. This will help you put together a strong business case for your manager.
If you’re working on a project, remember to come with a clear timeline, objective, and KPI so your manager is clear on the investment and the outcome. If it’s an ongoing role, try to evaluate how it can impact the business over time: for example, if it’s productivity-related, you could set an expected amount of hours saved per month.
Come with a plan and options
Your boss’ KPIs are linked with yours, so be prepared for questions around how you will be able to manage your current workload and performance with added responsibilities. One of the best ways to get them onboard with the idea is to present a plan detailing how you will free up time to be able to take on more work – will you delegate some tasks to someone else? Or can you improve your productivity by streamlining processes?
By demonstrating that you have considered how to handle your existing scope along with extra projects, you’ll reassure your boss that your new tasks won’t impact your current role. In addition, be prepared for some pushback. If this is the case, listen to your manager’s concerns and note them down, then come back with solutions in a follow-up meeting.
Choose your timing and your words wisely
If your boss is stressed out or you’re approaching a busy period at work, it could be more difficult for the company to consider letting you take on more responsibility. While there’s never the “perfect time” to ask your manager for additional tasks, timing does play a big role in driving a successful outcome.
There are some great opportunities to discuss a step up in responsibilities: at your mid-year or end-of-year review, or during a company restructure, for example. On top of this, how you talk to your boss can have a big impact: try to frame it as discussing ideas to improve your department, or taking some of the workload off your manager’s shoulders, rather than saying, “I want to gain more experience” or “I need this for a promotion”.
Remember, it’s a dialogue
No matter what the outcome is, asking for more responsibility demonstrates to your boss that you’re proactive, you take initiative, and that you’re willing to grow. While you may get a “no” to this specific pitch, don’t be discouraged – at least you’ve started the conversation.
If your manager is aware that you want to take on more, they may find new projects or more opportunities for you, or work with you to find an alternative solution. Don’t forget: teamwork makes the dream work, and by working together you can find the best outcome for everyone involved.