I remember the day I turned in my resignation. It had been the longest year of my career life, filled with frustration and disappointment. Only months before, I had walked into the corporate headquarters of the major airline filled with wonder and more than a few first-day jitters. While I would be doing something I was gifted at—marketing—there was a lot of NEW to learn. Culture, communication styles, goals and objectives, even slang terms were all like a foreign land waiting to be discovered.
What I did discover was that I didn’t connect as well as I was anticipating with the place I was working. The people were nice, the work was challenging, and I learned a lot about the airline industry. But the cultural differences left me feeling disconnected. I was used to quick decisions and autonomy, and my “foreign land” spoke a decidedly slower and more methodical language. I wanted to do more than manage campaigns, but additional responsibilities—and money—were only granted as part of a process that seemed quite laborious and long. And so, when a lunch conversation with a friend and former manager turned into an opportunity to join her in a new business venture, I didn’t think twice. I walked into my boss’s office and told him I was leaving.
He was floored—and perhaps just a bit angry. As someone who has since sat in his chair, I can empathize. Hiring employees is no small thing. In fact, it’s one of the largest investments a company makes. The Bureau of Labor Statistics shares that the average tenure for an employee 25-34 is currently 2.8 years. Grace Lin, the managing editor of QARA, says she hears often from QARA readers that they become disillusioned after about one or two years of work. “They become lost, confused, or bored.”
I get it. I felt all those things.
Certainly, some jobs aren’t meant to be careers, but there’s something to be said for investing fully in every opportunity as we build those careers.
We grow as leaders and influencers when we look for ways to get more. We grow in wisdom, we grow in understanding. We grow in our capacity to mentor those who follow us. We grow in faith, confidence, and compassion.
Now, that next business venture turned out to be challenging too. The culture was still one I had to learn: restructuring and reorganization was a way of life, and in five years I held six different positions managing three different staffs under the direction of two different leaders. Did the lost, confused, and bored feelings threaten to rear their heads? Absolutely. But it was there I learned to invest and ask for more. That was rewarded with growth and opportunity—even when I relocated to another city and transitioned to a consulting role for the company.
Here are twelve creative ideas I’ve learned to help get more in your job. Yes, you’ll see that “ask for a raise” is on the list. But I want you to pay attention to the other eleven things on the list—because your greatest growth will happen with them. Asking for money is easy.
Asking for more responsibility or more wisdom or more fun requires courage.
Oh, and here’s a caveat before you ask for anything more in a job: make sure you are giving that job your full attention and commitment. Be known for your work ethic and integrity. Be a great employee. Give your employer a reason to believe.
Then ask for more.
1) Ask for more money.
Don’t be afraid to ask for a raise. Go in equipped with details of your contributions to the company, what comparable positions may receive in other companies or industries, and what more you’d like to contribute going forward. Don’t be afraid to give a specific number and be prepared to negotiate. The Harvard Business Review has some excellent tips on how to create value at the negotiating table. If you receive a “yes,” say, “thank you.” If you receive a “no,” say “thank you,” and if comfortable, ask for clarity on the process for receiving pay increases so you’ll be even better prepared the next time you talk.
2) Ask for more responsibility.
You might be thinking, “Wait—if I ask for more responsibility, will it appear I’m currently not using the hours in my day well?” The simple answer is “no.”
More responsibility doesn’t necessarily mean more tasks in a given workday or more hours in a work week.
Asking for more responsibility is about you leveraging your gifts and talents to their fullest in your current role. More responsibility may include participating as a decision-maker, or learning more about strategic planning, or helping with the design and leadership of team meetings.
3) Ask for more teamwork.
Take time to ask what you can do to support those who work with you. Elevate the value of teamwork by modeling what it means to be a team player.
4) Ask for more help.
Rather than waiting for critique, fresh insight, and feedback to be offered, be the one to request road-tested wisdom. Ask for opportunities to review proposals or projects or meetings with your boss so that you may ask, “In what ways might I…” Then listen well. Make note not only of the recommendations you receive to make improvements to your ideas, presentation skills, and problem-solving processes, but also listen for important insights about the culture in which you work. You just might learn how to better communicate with peers and leadership, how to better negotiate through challenges, and how to better identify new opportunities for growth and development.
5) Ask for more connection.
At the major airline, there was a program called, “Walk a Mile,” a job-shadowing opportunity that was encouraged and endorsed by senior management. At another corporation, there was a formal mentorship program that helped employees better picture their career path. Learn what your company has to offer when it comes to mentorship programs. But don’t let the lack of a formal program stop you; ask for ways to learn more about the company by connecting with leaders and influencers.
6) Ask for more involvement.
Another way to add to your arsenal of talent and ability is to invest in what matters to those around you—even if they’re not doing the same job as you.
Connect with co-workers whose job affects yours and be sure to laud them for their contribution to the overall success of projects or campaigns.
Then ask for ways to collaborate with colleagues so that the value of everyone’s work will shine even more.
7) Ask for more focus.
Of all the things you are capable of doing, there’s a strong likelihood that you are EXCELLENT at certain skills. They come naturally for you, and time spent doing them is energizing. In my career, that energizing “come naturally” thing has been crafting creative ideas that connect people to a solution. In yours, it might be breaking down large concepts into clear and achievable paths or building financial models that equip people to bring ideas to life.
Ask for ways that those skillsets may become indispensable by finding opportunity for them to become your specialty.
Ask for additional training, or for an audience with influencers and decision-makers who may offer career wisdom on how to best leverage your skills.
8) Ask for more education.
This should be part of your “must-ask” list, no matter your career path. Find out what is offered within your company for job-training. And discover what courses, webinars, mastermind groups, continuing education credit, or certification programs exist to keep you at the forefront of knowledge and on top of emerging trends.
9) Ask for more understanding.
Take time to learn about your company’s history, core values, culture, successes, failures, pivot points, and vision for the future. Seek out not only timelines and news releases but anecdotes from employees who have been part of the journey. You’ll often find your own position and purpose becomes richer and more meaningful when you see the storyline and heritage of the company itself.
10) Ask for more fun.
So, what might more fun look like for you and your coworkers? It might be approaching meetings with an interactive spin to inspire new ideas or participating in a team-building activity away from the office. Fun might be designing collaboration teams to tackle projects or campaigns, or it could be as simple as extending an invitation for a great lunchtime conversation. According to Forbes Magazine, fun in the workplace is “essential to keeping us emotionally connected and engaged, to feel part of the tribe, to blow off steam, and to create experiences.”
11) Ask for more flexibility.
There are a lot of ways to define flexibility, from working nontraditional hours to officing remotely some or all of the time, or sharing job responsibilities with someone else in order to create margin for continued education, side hustles, new business opportunities, or bold adventures. Be sure to do your research first, to see what types of flexible plans have been approved in the past. And remember the importance of approaching the idea as a “win/win.” The Harvard Business Review has great tips to share.
12) Ask for a great end to the chapter.
It may not appear to be a “more” ask but investing fully in your current job can set you up well for your next job—even if that next job is with another employer. Cultivating community opens doors for heartfelt conversations about next steps and big dreams. Invite your boss into those conversations.