How to Ask Your Boss for More Responsibility

April 10th, 2020

When you’re ready for a promotion, how do you know? Does someone magically show up at your desk with a stamped certificate? Do you get a phone call from the mayor? Does the CEO of the company send you an email telling you it’s time for the next level? Maybe these types of things happen in movies, but in real life, there’s only one person who truly knows if you’re ready to take on more responsibility, and that’s you. Not your boss; she isn’t watching you as closely as you might think. Just you.

So when you’re ready, how can you let her know? How can you convince her to make your forward transition official? Here are a few tips that can help.

First, gather the evidence.

You might not even need it, but make sure you have it anyway. Create a list or summary of all you’ve learned and all you’ve accomplished since you started working in your current role. Make sure to include projects you’ve completed, ideas you’ve suggested, teams you led, teams you were on, problems you solved, new business you drew to the company, and any process that you learned how to make more efficient. If you did something extra special, like volunteer your time or go the extra mile during a crisis, keep that at the top of the list.

Get her full attention.

It never works out well to follow your boss down a hallway, blurting information in her ear while she scrolls through a tablet. Instead, say only one thing: request an appointment. Make your meeting as formal as your workplace culture indicates. You can either get verbal agreement from her to meet Monday at 2:00, or you can send her an email invitation, or both. But get the meeting first. Then make your case.

Focus on the company first, and start with the positive.

You may need a raise or promotion simply because you want one and you’ve earned it. But your boss will be more interested in her own needs and benefits than yours. Make sure you highlight the value you

bring to the company before you put forth what you want. But don’t take too long to make your point. Get from A to B in just a few minutes.

Anticipate objections and counter them.

Your boss may tell you that the company can’t afford your request, that you aren’t ready, or even that this meeting is the wrong time and place to discuss it. But those things are likely not true, so you’ll need to stand your ground. This can take a little nerve. Don’t be deterred or brushed off.

Don’t whine; just move forward.

If your boss asks for more information, return with it as quickly as possible. If she asks you to wait for a while, get a clear timeline in writing. If she asks you to meet certain milestones, get to work and start meeting them. If she insists on denying your request altogether, start looking for another job. Turn to the experts at PSU to find a position where you’ll be respected and compensated.

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