You know the deal. You’re hired to do a job. That job comes with a job description or maybe even a contract that lists the responsibilities and duties assigned to you as said job holder. Next, you start to get comfortable with your new position. Soon, you’re doing well, and before you know it, you start winning the respect of your co-workers and even your bosses. You’re starting to feel pretty good about yourself, and this job – and that’s usually right around the time when things start to change.
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Little by little, inch by inch, your job starts growing. You’re given more responsibilities, assigned to an increasing amount of projects. You may even realize that suddenly you’re doing the work of two people, maybe more – absorbing another whole job description (and the relevant duties and responsibilities) into your own position, and your own life. Suddenly, you’re not so happy anymore – in fact, just the opposite. So, what should you do? Here are some ideas about what to do when your job keeps expanding.
1. Engage in rigorous prioritizing.
First things first: how are you going to attend to all of this work? Start by examining what needs doing and prioritize. Take care of the most crucial tasks one at a time – trying to stay focused on each individual item without getting overwhelmed by the big picture. You might have too much going on to settle in and write a to-do list; that would probably just overwhelm you. Instead, throw yourself into one very important task at a time. And, try to see action items through to completion as often as you can. The satisfaction of finishing tasks will help you stay positive during this busy time.
2. When it’s time to renegotiate, do so.
Review time isn’t just an opportunity for your boss to tell you where you can improve; it’s also a chance to look at your current responsibilities and future goals. Don’t hesitate to mention your increased job responsibilities.
It may even make sense to document what you’ve been up to so that there is no room for debate. Break down your data and present some hard facts to your manager during your meeting. If you’re spending 40 percent of your time doing work that wasn’t a part of your job description a year ago, it’s only fair that you bring this up to your boss. People who negotiate make more money – make sure you’re one of them.
3. Draw the line somewhere.
Contrary to popular notions about the tireless, ceaseless energy we’re supposed to bring to our careers each and every day, it is actually okay to say no to your boss. It’s something you want to carefully consider in advance (and definitely be careful with how you say it) but if done well, drawing a line about the responsibilities you’re able to shoulder could even score you points with the higher-ups. It’s commendable to want to handle all of your responsibilities well – and everyone knows that gets more and more difficult the more you have on your plate. Draw the line somewhere.
This is especially true when you’re literally doing more than one job. Perhaps you’ve absorbed another position while the company looks to hire a replacement, or layoffs are stretching a lot of folks thin as the organization recalibrates. Whatever the case, meet regularly with your boss. This will allow you to keep an eye on the hiring process (and have a sense of the timeline) and it will also give you the opportunity to discuss what you’re doing and potentially shift your job description into something that’s more to your liking.
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