Unhappy at Work? Persuade Your Boss to Redefine Your Job.

Every morning, Jonas backs into a parking spot at work so he can leave faster at the end of the day—if only by seconds. Like nearly half of all U.S. workers, Jonas is dissatisfied with his job. His colleague, Ranjana, disliked her job too, until she persuaded her manager to redefine her role.

As a senior manager at a high-tech firm, Ranjana was skilled at getting cross-functional team members to collaborate, achieve consensus and complete large-scale projects. She was so successful at “wrangling cats” and tackling complex assignments. Her projects became increasingly bigger, more visible and more likely to involve contentious issues. Her work was having a big impact, but after two years of navigating politics, reconciling diverse opinions and juggling competing demands, Ranjana was drained.

After taking the time to reflect, Ranjana realized she wanted to bring her own ideas to fruition, rather than just integrating others’ ideas into a cohesive whole. To do this, she needed to convince her manager to change her job description. In the end, it was the following strategies that helped her make a compelling case for change—and they can help you do the same.

1. Prove you’re on top of things.

If you want to add responsibilities to your job description, you need to assure your manager that you won’t become overwhelmed or neglect the essential parts of your job. Before taking on new projects, streamline your existing tasks, especially the routine ones. Personalize the way in which you track your to-do list, manage your inbox and run meetings.

2. Point to the research.

Employee turnover costs businesses upwards of $600 billion annually, so smart companies strive to retain talent. One way to keep restless employees is to rewrite their job descriptions, thus increasing their overall job satisfaction. Research shows that employees of all generations prefer a meaningful job over higher pay or a prestigious career, and 89% of executives believe purpose matters. Those who find purpose in their vocations are 15% more likely to be satisfied at work. And happy employees are more likely to stick around.

3. Demonstrate you can do the new job.

Set yourself up for success in a new area by proposing a small pilot project that gives you the opportunity to learn new skills and show that you’re up to the task. For example, Ranjana offered to write the specifications for a new product feature when a colleague was unavailable.

4. Train a successor.

Easing the transition for your manager increases the likelihood of having your request for change approved. Ranjana not only suggested two people on her team who she felt confident could handle the work, but started training them and giving them more responsibility so that she could take on new, more intriguing work.

5. Leverage your learning.

The longer you’re in a role, the more efficient and effective you become. Giving your boss an incentive to keep you right where you are. Articulate how you can leverage what you’ve learned to have an even bigger impact. Ranjana’s insights from working across divisions gave her a unique perspective into customers’ wants and needs. By explaining how her vantage point would allow her to create technology that delighted customers, she was able to persuade her boss to let her give it a go.

If you’re unhappy at work, don’t assume that your boss won’t allow you to change your job description. The key is to take everything you’ve learned about what drives you (hint: we’ve outlined how to do just that in our “Career Challenge: Rediscover Your Purpose In 15 Days” series) and demonstrate how your redesigned role will benefit both you and the business. Then, you can transform a job you hate into the job of your dreams.

Connect with Sabina Nawaz on Twitter and/or LinkedIn.
This article appeared in Forbes.com on August 15, 2019.

Photo credits: Malvestida Magazine

Sabina Nawaz

Sabina Nawaz is a global CEO coach, leadership keynote speaker, and writer working with executives in Fortune 500 corporations, government, non-profits, and academia.  Previously Sabina spent 14+ years at Microsoft first in software development and then in HR.  She led the company’s executive development and succession planning efforts for over 11,000 managers and 700 executives. Sabina has spoken at hundreds of seminars, events, and conferences. Sabina believes the greatest privilege of working with leaders is bearing witness to their acts of courage.

Look for more stories, insights, and advice on thriving as a leader on Forbes, HBR, and Inc and her TEDx talk. Follow her on Twitter or LinkedIn.

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