Taking charge of your career: getting your manager to give you more responsibility

BY THE OFFICE COACH - APRIL 22, 2016

Let’s start with the definition of responsibility. The Oxford Dictionary defines it (in part) as “the opportunity or ability to act independently and take decisions without authorisation”. If you want to expand your current role to take on more responsibility, you need to be able to demonstrate a number of things to your manager:

a)     That you are already meeting all your key performance indicators and achieving all that is required within your job description

b)     That you have the time and mental capacity to deal with more in your working day

c)      That you understand the requirements of your business and how you can add value through the application of your talents and passions

d)     How the added responsibility you want links to your career goals

If you can demonstrate these things, then you can take the following action:

Take initiative: The best way to get your manager to give you more responsibility is to take the initiative. If you think that something at work can be done in a way that is more efficient or can lead to better returns for the business, then suggest this to your manager. If there is a project at work that would challenge you, then volunteer to work on it. If you are not busy at work, then ask your manager if there is anything that you can do to ease his workload.

Know what you want to achieve: Look at the specific skills that you want to develop in yourself and find ways to expose yourself to learning opportunities.

For example, if you are looking to manage your own projects one day, then look for ways that you can practice your skills on small projects, like a team building function or the implementation of a new process.

If you can prove your abilities in that arena then you are more likely to be considered for bigger projects. Be aware that taking on more responsibility may not lead to a promotion or a salary increase.

You may gain experience alone. Keep an open dialogue with your boss so that he can manage your expectations along the way. This will help to avoid frustration and disappointment. It will also serve as a guide to what you need to do to achieve the promotion or increase that you may be looking for.

Be solution focussed: Try to present a solution for every problem that arises. If you become aware of any particular issues or difficulties, speak to your manager about them and suggest a number of possible resolutions.

Include scenarios and how they might be implemented, placing yourself at the centre of ownership and action. If you are seen as a “do-er”, then you may be trusted with more responsibility.

Demonstrate your successes to your manager without boasting or being conceited. A good way to do this is to speak factually and to be specific.

Show how you did something, why you did it and what positive outcomes were derived. Bring this up when your manager is focussed, perhaps during your morning meeting or during a performance review.

By bringing awareness to your capabilities and successes, you will gain confidence and your manager will believe in you more. You will then be in a better position to be considered for new opportunities.

Help others: Are there colleagues who are overworked or stressed? Offer your services but be careful that they don’t take advantage of you. It is best to suggest specific ways in which you can help; that way you control what you do and how you do it. It will also be more difficult for them to claim any credit for the work later.

Become and expert: Continue to learn and be open to sharing your knowledge; if you are seen as an expert, then responsibility will naturally come your way. You will be increasingly be asked for comment and involvement and, with that comes more responsibility.

A good way to stay informed and to learn every day is to subscribe to industry news. There are many free blogs, newsletters and e-alerts available on the internet. You may also expand your knowledge through on-the-job learning, formal training courses, shadowing, coaching and mentoring. Again, you need to take the initiative!