How satisfied and challenged are you in your work?
Do you feel like your job has meaning? Are you making a difference? If you want to leave at the end of the day feeling fulfilled but not overwhelmed, it’s important to find what Bill Hybels, founder of the Global Leadership Summit, calls your “sweet spot.” To better understand it, consider these three basic levels of professional challenge:
- Dangerously over challenged: You can’t stay in this zone for long, or you’ll burn out. Interestingly, your effectiveness decreases the longer you’re there.
- Appropriately challenged: Here, everything is relatively easy and routine. It may feel nice to coast through every work day and go home with a smile, but at some point, you may need to stretch and grow.
- Under challenged: You’re bored and probably spend a considerable amount of time watching the clock, surfing the web and counting the hours. You’re collecting a paycheck, but not feeling as though there’s a real purpose to what you do. You can’t remain here for long, either.
Hybel notes that your sweet spot is where “appropriately challenged” and “dangerously over challenged” come together. It’s like exercising: You need to stretch beyond your normal comfort zone without getting hurt and regretting your decision afterwards.
Questions to Consider
Do you have an idea where your sweet spot lies? At that point, is it a good idea to approach your boss and ask for more responsibility? The latter answer depends on how well you’re doing in your current role and whether or not you’re a valuable team player.
- Do I have a good rapport with my manager?
- Do I have a good overall reputation at work?
- Am I a valued team member?
- Am I known for going the extra mile when necessary – and has my boss noticed this?
Then, look at the situation from your manager’s perspective. As they consider your request, their questions may go something like this:
- How would changing your role benefit them and your company?
- What would be the advantage to your coworkers if you assumed additional responsibility?
- Would this move help solve a current pressing business problem?
Be Strategic with Your Request
If you want more challenging work, be strategic in how you ask for it. You’re most likely to succeed if you can relieve a pain point or help achieve a top-priority result for your boss.
- Timing is everything. The best time for such a request is shortly after you’ve been recognized for an accomplishment, while your success is still fresh in your manager’s mind.
- Respect your boss’s time. Approach them at a point where things at work are running smoothly.
- Have specific suggestions to offer. Don’t simply complain that you’re unhappy or bored. Anticipate some possible objections and come prepared with thoughtful responses.
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