So you’re doing a good job at work, people seem happy, and you want 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 it allows for real progress within an organization. Try these five ways to get more involved 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 by sharing your own career goals with him or her and talking about how you fit into the company’s future. When looking for opportunities, reflect on what skills or knowledge you want to develop and start there. 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. 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 more.
2. Look for busy, stressed out coworkers
Look for the people who need help, be it in other departments or in the cubicle next door. Make sure that you don’t become a victim of credit hogs, though: some people will attempt to have you do their extra work, and then take the credit. Learn to identify and avoid these people. Also, be sure to not overwhelm yourself with others’ work to the point where you risk neglecting your own responsibilities.
3. 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 you’d be able to reach out to others independently and showing that you can see what the next step would be.
4. Start with the fun stuff
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. It’s good for your coworkers to get to know you outside of your traditional professional environment.
5. 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 of doing this: set up a “Google Alert” for topics relevant to your industry, company, or team’s area of responsibility. Pick your search terms, and any articles featuring the terms you’ve chosen, for example: “Obama environment oil spill BP,” will be included in a daily update email sent to your inbox. 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.