How to Take on More Responsibility at Work — and Why

Be the hero your boss wants you to be.

Reviewed by Chris Leitch

How to take on more responsibility at work

Nobody wants to do the same job or the same tasks forever, and one way to keep things engaging at work, to keep being developed and advance in your career is to take on extra responsibility.

Being more responsible at work can benefit many different stakeholders in many different ways, but it’s also not something that’s just dropped into your lap. You need to consciously work towards additional responsibility.

This article takes you through how to do just that: why extra responsibility is important, how you can prepare yourself for it, and 10 ways to take on more responsibility at work.

What does it mean to take on more responsibility at work?

Taking on extra responsibility at work involves being assigned or asking for tasks, duties or projects that are above and beyond your typical workload. There are many ways this can manifest itself but often involves taking on additional one-off projects or additional regular tasks that will be worked into your normal duties.

Extra responsibility at work can also entail taking on leadership duties, mentoring or buddying other employees, being empowered to take on more decision making, or getting involved in more complex problem solving.

Why should you take on more responsibility at work?

Taking on additional responsibilities is a win-win.

Your organization wins by engaging and retaining top talent. This also means it can demonstrate an agile and arguably more productive workforce — both important business key performance indicators.

For your manager, if the additional responsibilities they give you were originally theirs to do, then this means they have more time to take on more responsibility themselves.

For you, taking on extra responsibility shows that you are organized, reliable, passionate about the business and focused on results, and that you can be relied upon for both quality and quantity of work. Taking on additional responsibility also allows you to learn new skills, can lead to a raise, and readies you for promotion.

How to show that you take responsibility at work

Extra responsibility isn’t just given to anyone. You have to demonstrate to stakeholders that you’re already responsible for what you do. Here are three ways to do this:

Demonstrating flexibility

Demonstrate to stakeholders that you’re flexible and adaptable in your role. If last-minute or urgent requests come in, positively grab them with both hands and adopt a never-say-no attitude. Be diligent and reliable in all that you do in your current role.

Checking in with your team

Being a team player is a surefire way of demonstrating that you’re ready for additional responsibility. By checking in with your team, you’re not only showing proactiveness but also indicating that you have the time, leadership capability, willingness and skill to support them with their tasks.

Being proactive

Be perceived as someone who isn’t afraid to roll up their sleeves and take initiative at work. This includes not waiting to be given tasks, being solution-oriented (not problem-oriented), and volunteering for projects or acting-up opportunities whenever they present themselves.

10 ways to take on more responsibility at work

There are plenty of ways to take on more responsibility at work. These start from understanding your own workload and the workload of others, as well as grasping opportunities as and when they arise.

Here are the 10 best ways to take on additional responsibilities.

1. Identify your current responsibilities

The first step to taking on more responsibility is to understand what you’re currently doing. This might involve checking out your job description or undertaking a self-assessment or a time audit.

Analyzing what you’re currently doing will help you understand how much additional responsibility you can take on, and in what areas. It will also help you to avoid common pitfalls such as taking on too much, neglecting your current duties or focusing on the wrong additional tasks.

Ensure you take ownership of your current responsibilities and that they’re not dropped or delegated inappropriately.

2. Offer to be a buddy or mentor

A rewarding way to take on additional responsibility is to support other people with their development.

Being a mentor or a buddy means that you will develop yourself, help others at work, and show that you can take on extra tasks. It involves assuming extra duties; you will need to ensure your current role is being performed while looking after other people and supporting them whenever they need it.

This is another way for you to brush up on your leadership skills.

3. Create goals to meet responsibilities

Setting yourself goals to ensure you achieve your current responsibilities is one way of demonstrating that you can do more. Even if you’re set business goals by your manager, setting shorter-term targets such as weekly goals or monthly focuses can keep you productive and offer you more time to take on more.

When setting goals, keep them SMART: Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant and Time-bound. This will ensure they work for you while pushing you to be your best.

4. Demonstrate reliability and accountability

Managers will delegate to and empower those team members that are able to demonstrate their reliability and accountability. This includes basics such as having an excellent attendance record, meeting deadlines, a strong work ethic, and having some tenure in your role (don’t expect to take on extra responsibility if you only joined the organization a couple of months ago!).

Additionally, owning your role and stepping up when things get tough is a valuable asset. Be accountable for your mistakes and be honest, integral and sincere in all that you do at work.

5. Speak to your manager

Although extra responsibility might sometimes fall into your lap, don’t expect this to always be the case. On many occasions, you’ll need to ask your manager for these opportunities.

Arrange a time to meet your manager, perhaps in a one-to-one, and prepare yourself by explaining what extra responsibility you’re looking for, along with reasoning as to why you feel you’re ready for it. When you talk to your boss, make it a dialogue, and allow time for them to consider your request.

6. Seek out professional development

The benefits of continuing professional development to taking on additional responsibility are threefold.

Firstly, proactive CPD might help you understand which additional tasks you might be suited for. Secondly, it will prepare you for more responsibility. Thirdly, and most importantly, being able to demonstrate that you’re passionate about your development will help in influencing managers that you’re ready, willing and able for extra responsibility.

7. Delegate tasks

When we take on extra responsibility at work, the risk is that we’re all too eager to do so without considering our capacity to do so. One way to find time to take on more at work is to delegate some of your existing tasks.

When delegating, ensure that you do so appropriately — ie: delegating to who you are allowed to delegate to. Ensure you explain the task and train employees thoroughly, because whereas you are delegating the work, the accountability and responsibility remain with you.

8. Be proactive in your role

When looking for extra responsibility at work, look for ways that you can proactively step up in your current role.

For example, if you notice an opportunity to do something better, then plan out some rough details, and discuss it with your manager. Similarly, if you encounter a challenge, don’t just ignore it or go to your manager to report it. Either fix it if you can, or come to your manager with solutions, not just the problem.

Behaving in this way demonstrates to others that you are technically capable of more responsibility and that you possess the thought processes to do so.

9. Volunteer to lead teams

Taking on leadership skills is a clear way to demonstrate to peers and managers that you’re capable of additional responsibility. By leading others, you’re assuming responsibility for their actions and tasks, and therefore taking on a wider and more senior remit.

A good way to demonstrate to your manager that you’re capable of this is through leading informal teams such as working groups, project task forces or even just chairing meetings. Volunteering to lead these interventions when asked really raises your stock with senior leaders.

10. Be open to change and adaptable

Demonstrating to others that you’re comfortable with change and can adapt to dynamic circumstances is a great way to show that you can handle additional responsibilities.

Volunteering for responsibility in times of change shows that you’re positive, motivated and flexible. You’ll also get the chance to get involved in critical projects that can have a lasting effect on the organization. Even taking on a little extra work in times of change can lead to larger projects and a wider remit further down the line.

Key takeaways

Taking on extra responsibility at work is a win-win and is one of the most important things you can do to ensure continued career growth. When thinking about taking on extra responsibility at work, consider these main points:

  • Taking on extra responsibility at work benefits everyone: you, your manager, and your organization.
  • Often, you need to demonstrate you’re ready for more responsibility, through your actions and behavior in your current role, and with your current responsibilities.
  • Extra responsibility at work is rarely offered to you: you frequently need to ask for it or volunteer for opportunities.
  • Ensure your existing responsibilities are not neglected because of extra tasks given to you.

Hopefully, this article has prepared and guided you on the best ways to take more responsibility at work. The next step is to put your plan into action and take advantage of these opportunities!

How do you take on extra responsibility in your job, and what tips do you have to share? Let us know in the comments section below.

Originally published on March 14, 2020.