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Advice / Succeeding at Work / Getting Ahead

3 Things to Remember When You Regret Asking for More Responsibility

You’re really good at what you do. So it’s no surprise that you have the desire to tackle bigger things.

A bigger project. A thornier problem. A larger team. A wider mandate.

That’s how you get to grow, learn new things, and have a heap more fun (oh, and hopefully add more value to your company, too). But what happens when the extra responsibility you asked for comes crashing down on you like a bear body-slamming a kitten?

Sometimes, the thing you ask for may surprise you (and not in a joyful, all-these-gifts-for-me-you-really-shouldn’t-have kind of way) and turn out to be a little more than you can handle. If you find your newfound responsibility too weighty, here are three things to keep in mind.

1. Remember That Asking for Help Doesn’t Show Weakness

First thing’s first: Asking for help is not weakness—it’s sensible.

If you’re considering asking for help juggling your newfound responsibilities, it’s easy to imagine that your colleagues will belittle you or your boss will smile crookedly and say, “Told you so.” That apprehension is usually based on a fear that people will find you out and determine that you’re not good enough.

To hell with that. You’ve come this far—and you’ve come really far—by making choices, and sometimes the choice to ask for help is the best, boldest, and brightest move you can make.

2. Remember That You Own How Things Are Done

You have more responsibility. Fantastic. Now, panic!

Actually, don’t. That sense of panic only sets in when you think you have to do it all yourself or when you overreact, wondering how in the world you can pull it together and make it happen.

While the responsibility may now be on your shoulders, that also means you get to choose how things are done. You can choose to draft in extra team members or track down people with certain skill sets. You can create a timeline that’s realistic instead of fantasy. You can delegate downward to your direct reports or upward to your manager. You can take the lead to clearly communicate where the risks and opportunities are.

You set the tone. And you can choose not to panic.

3. Remember Not to Focus on Judgment

People will judge you, no matter what. That’s simply what happens in workplaces. Employees judge the managers. Managers judge the teams. Teams judge the decisions made at a much higher level. Judgment happens when human beings are put into hierarchies—and there’s not a thing you can do about it.

With more responsibility on your shoulders, it’s tempting to get wrapped up in these critiques and start making choices you hope people will judge favorably. Do you avoid making a decision that you know people will criticize? Do you go with a safe plan, rather than one that flies in the face of how things are normally done? Would you dare risk your reputation or position by making a call that might set tongues wagging?

Making decisions based on how people might judge them is not responsibility. It’s fear. Cowardice, even.

Instead, what would it be like if you swept away the judgments or potential criticisms and focused instead on doing great work?

That’s what confidence is all about—being able to choose your behavior with implicit trust in that behavior. Not choosing your behavior based on what people might think or what might go wrong.

And that’s maybe the golden rule when it comes to having greater responsibility: Trust the process, not the outcome.

Photo of too much paperwork courtesy of Shutterstock.