Stuck in a Career Rut? The Secret to Getting More Responsibility

More than three-quarters of IT professionals are looking to change jobs in 2017, according to research from Investors in People. While better pay and flexible working hours top their wish-lists, 36 percent of tech pros cited a lack of career progression as a key reason for hitting the job market.
But if you’re pretty happy with your boss and company, staying put and taking on more responsibility might be less risky than changing jobs, noted life and business coach, Rasheed Ogunlaru.

Frankly, most bosses would be thrilled to have a capable staffer step up and take something off his plate. So what’s the secret to getting more responsibility?

“It’s all in the way you ask,” Ogunlaru advised. “Your request needs to be clean, crisp, compelling and aligned with the company’s goals.”

Ready to give it a try?  Here are three ways to set the stage for success.

Showcase Your Readiness

It’s no secret that high-profile professionals often get preference when it comes to assigning high visibility projects. The fact is that sometimes tenacity trumps talent. You need to be known and connected to score plum, career-enhancing assignments.

If you feel like you’ve been pigeonholed or overlooked, increase your boss’s receptivity before you ask for a meeting. Demonstrate your readiness to take on more by changing how you are perceived. Attend conferences and workshops and make an extra effort to keep your boss informed about what you’re working on. In other words, be someone who shows up week in and week out.

Finally, develop other people’s awareness of your abilities and strengths by building your network and establishing yourself as an expert and thought-leader.

“Blogging, volunteering to represent your team or speaking on a technical topic is a good way to raise your visibility with influential leaders,” noted Antoinette Oglethorpe, a leadership development consultant and author of “Grow Your Geeks.”

You never know when a sudden staff departure or new business initiative might create a growth opportunity, so put yourself in a position to pounce.

Help Yourself by Offering to Help

Asking your boss for a raise or promotion limits his ability to approve your request and offers you no escape.

“Don’t focus on titles or pay grades,” Oglethorpe said. “Describe your ambitions in broad terms and then offer to help the organisation and your boss by solving a pressing business problem.”

Put another way, don’t cause headaches for your boss; increase your chances of getting what you want by offering to take them away.

For instance, if production has been slowed by poor documentation, management turnover or a fragile code base, position yourself for a future leadership role by offering to mentor junior developers. Or, if a cloud project is running behind schedule, expand your skillset by volunteering to manage the performance of cloud-based providers. The bigger the problem you solve, the more likely you are to have your proposal approved.

Remember, requests for promotions should be tied to achievement and value. Show that you’re capable of handling more complex tasks before you talk about money. And while having a good relationship with your boss is vital, use facts to support your case until you prove that you can excel in an expanded role.

“Frame your request as a win for everyone and don’t issue an ultimatum, have a conversation,” Ogunlaru said.

Prepare Solutions and Alternatives

Demonstrate your ability to manage up by thinking through the implications of your proposal and bringing solutions to your boss’s concerns. For instance, will you still be able to handle your current workload? Will you need training? What will happen if you fall behind or struggle? The more you’ve thought through the issues, the more comfortable your boss will be.

Have more than one idea in mind in case your initial request is shot down. Be open to considering alternatives or suggest a trial run. Even if your boss can’t accommodate your offer, if he values you and your work, he will probably find some way to throw you a stretch assignment. Hey, it’s a start.

Of course, there’s always the chance that you and your boss won’t see eye-to-eye and that’s okay. Find out why he doesn’t feel that you’re ready to take on more responsibility and agree to meet again in three months.

Pushing yourself out of your comfort zone by asking for more responsibility will benefit you and your tech career, whether you stay right where you are or move to another company.

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