Imagine an employee has put in his or her time in a position, so much so that they’ve become a pretty skilled and valued employee. And as a result, that employee receives positive feedback. There’s just one problem: the manager hasn’t acknowledged the employee is capable of doing so much more than the work he or she is currently tasked with. That employee is ready for more, ready to tackle different and higher-level projects. Being underutilized at work can easily make an employee feel frustrated, unhappy and stymied in his or her career, effectively eroding the culture of learning that has allowed him or her to flourish. But it’s not just up to the company to foster advancement. There are things that employees themselves can do along the way to ensure they are on the path to continued growth.
Set Yourself Up for Success
The best way for an employee to earn more responsibility is to start laying the foundation in advance. While you may feel ready for more responsibility, actually asking for higher-level projects or a promotion is the final step in the process.
Before you can move on from your current responsibilities, you must first demonstrate that you have mastered them. One way to do so is to prepare your team or future replacement to be able to work equally efficiently in your absence. Create a system or process so that your current work can continue on without you. Keep your manager informed on the progress and how it is creating results, especially with other co-workers becoming more responsible and accountable. This will not only demonstrate your leadership qualities and your ability to delegate and manage, but will also free you up to take on those higher-level projects.
Show You’re Ready
There are many ways to let your manager know you are capable of so much more and to get promoted to higher levels of responsibility. One often gets rewarded for performance and promoted for the potential exhibited. Acquire more knowledge and skills whenever and however you can. If you want to get involved in a project, ask to shadow a team member. Shadowing is a great way to learn new skills and observe them in practice in the actual work setting.
Be bold and volunteer for projects, particularly ones that take you out of your comfort zoneor ones that others are reluctant to take on. Show up at meetings not as a “listener” but as a participant who can debate and offer alternative solutions.
Get feedback on your performance in your current role to find out how well you are doing. If your reviews are positive then presumably you will be given the opportunity to take on increased responsibilities. If not, find out where you fall short and how you can do better.
Meet with Your Manager
Before sitting with down with you manager, take some time to determine what types of projects you would be interested in learning about and what goals you would like to achieve. Too often, employees expect that opportunities will just come to them, rather than taking time to seek them out. After familiarizing yourself with the types of projects you are interested in working on, note 3 or 4 reasons why having you on board would be beneficial to the project.
Prepare a list of short-term and long-term career objectives to share with your supervisor. Make sure that your list and aspirations are aligned with departmental and company objectives.
Most importantly, document your accomplishments and the positive feedback you’ve received over the last 6 to 12 months. Bring this feedback to the meeting with you so you can highlight the skills you have developed by handling your current responsibilities and also the skills you have acquired that make you feel that you will be able to handle more.
Armed with clearly defined goals and examples of success, schedule a meeting with your manager to discuss your short-term and long-term goals for work and development. Bring up specific projects that you are interested in working on and why it would be beneficial for you to be involved. Be confident and make the ask to work on the project. Share how this will help you reach a short-term or long-term goal.
If your manager does not feel you are quite ready, ask to shadow someone doing that work so that you can get ready. Ask questions, offer help, get engaged without any obligation on either your part or theirs.After some time, get feedback and start the process again.
In general, team members who want to grow and take on more responsibility are much appreciated as developing and retaining talent is a key focus of most companies. So, first excel in your current role, find ways to make an impact beyond that role, track your accomplishments, ask for feedback, clarify your goals, and make your pitch once you have plenty of hard evidence to show you are ready to take on more responsibility.