So you’re doing a good job at work. Your boss seems happy. And now, you're ready to take on more.
Pushing yourself out of your comfort zone to take on more responsibility is a great way to grow personally and professionally. It can be uncomfortable and hard at times, but that's what will help you make real progress within an organization. So give yourself a challenge, and try these five ways to step up and have your colleagues see you shine!
1. Talk to Your Boss
Go to your supervisor and see if there are any additional projects you can work on. Make it a discussion rather than a direct question: you can share your own career goals and talk about how you see yourself fitting into the company’s future.
Think about what skills or knowledge you want to develop, and see if there's an opportunity that'll let you do just that. If possible, have a few concrete ideas in mind so you can suggest areas where you may be able to get more involved.
If you don’t have regularly scheduled meetings with your supervisor, try to get time on his or her calendar for the conversation. But if that’s a long way off, mention it in passing and follow up. A simple “Hey, I think I am ready for more responsibility and would like to help the team” may be just what he or she needs to know to give you the opportunity.
2. Look for Busy, Stressed Out Co-workers
Look for the people who need help, be it in other departments or in the cubicle next door, and offer to lend a hand. Make sure that you don’t get taken advantage of, though, or become a victim of a credit hog: those colleagues who will attempt to have you do their extra work, and then take all the credit. Learn to identify and avoid these people.
Also, be sure not to overwhelm yourself with others’ work. If you're risking neglecting your own responsibilities, you're going too far.
3. Become an Expert
Acquire new knowledge continuously and stay on top of trends or developments in your field. If you’re seen as an expert in a particular subject, you’re more likely to be needed for new projects coming up.
One simple way: set up a “Google Alert” for topics relevant to your industry, company, or team’s area of responsibility. Pick your search terms, and any new articles featuring the terms you’ve chosen will be sent to your inbox in a daily update email. Another great option is to use Twitter’s news hashtags.
When you find articles relevant to your team’s work, send them out with a brief accompanying summary. You’ll be helping all of your teammates look better and stay up-to-date on the latest industry news, which can gain you a lot of credibility as a team player. Remember though, when you send an article out to your team, make sure you anticipate any questions that may come up about what you sent.
4. Be Proactive
Sometimes you can’t wait for someone else to give you the green light. Take initiative, and do what needs to be done before someone asks you (or someone else) to do it. Start by identifying tasks that are falling through the cracks and completing them. Your foresight will be appreciated.
If part of your planned activity involves reaching out to clients or other external members of your company, make sure that you have approval to do this. “Jenn, I thought that a press search would be helpful here, and I wanted to reach out to Erik on the PR team” is a simple way of confirming your team is okay with you reaching out, and also of communicating what you're doing so it doesn't end up being done twice.
5. Start With the Fun Stuff
Lastly, some workplaces have extracurricular activities you can get involved in, be it the softball team or the sustainability initiative. Show your leadership skills there and get to know more people at work as a first step towards more official responsibility. Plus, it can be good for your co-workers to get to know you outside of your traditional professional environment.