Turn Setbacks into Setups

How To Ask Your Supervisor For More Responsibilities

April 15, 2019


It’s finally happened: you’ve fully grown into your role at work.


This sounds great, but what it really means is that you find yourself with a lot of downtime. Tasks that once required your full attention come to you easily, and you’re tackling problems on your own instead of sending them to someone more skilled.



You’re an effective worker—and it’s making you bored.


Luckily, if you’re enjoying the next rung on the corporate ladder, this is a great place to be. It means you get to ask for more responsibility, to make your job a little more exciting, and to show off your enthusiasm for what you do.

There’s just more problem…walking into your supervisor’s office to say “I need more work” might not be the best way to handle things. You want to show that you’re ready to contribute, not that you feel bored or underutilized (even if you do feel that way). Even worse, you don’t want to look like a title grabber or to make your boss wonder if there’s enough work to keep you around.

So how do you get more responsibility—or even a promotion at work—the right way?



  1. Know your manager.


Think of your manager as your main client. With clients, you work for them proactively, know their preferences, and identify pain points automatically. Do the same for your manager as well, especially as you decide what to say when asking for a promotion at work.

Before you set up a meeting to talk, keep their current workload in mind. Avoid chaotic moments like layoffs and reorganizations. If possible, try to plan it at a natural transition point, like a yearly review or a regular one-on-one meeting.



  1. Come in with a plan.


  • Consider your passions. Prepare to reach out for the projects you’re most interested in, or to discuss your desire to work with a specific team.
  • Grow your skills. If needed, decide how you’ll recommend bringing your skills up to speed for more responsibilities. Can you take an online class? Is there someone you can shadow?
  • Manage your time. If you’re taking on more responsibilities, what happens to your existing ones? Plan where that work will go: will you eliminate some tasks, or delegate a project?
  • Share what you’ve done. Promotions at work are usually based on overall performance, as well as your ability to take on more responsibilities. If you have objective reminders about past achievements—such as hard numbers, successful projects, or happy clients—bring those with you to the meeting.  



  1. Think of this as a recommendation, not a declaration.


After you’ve said your piece, you should open yourself up to any questions or concerns. Don’t worry if there’s some back and forth: this is only natural. It shows that your boss is taking your ideas seriously, trying to decide how your recommendations could fit into the existing company structure.

Ultimately, you’ll need to initiate the discussion, rather than expecting your boss to sit up and take notice that you’d like a promotion at work. If you’re struggling to take the lead on this, don’t worry—we’ve got a little extra help for you!

Reach out to us for personalized support from one of our Hundred life coaches, and we’ll help you reach your goals faster.

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