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June 22, 2023

Embrace Change: New Work Responsibilities

Work Responsibilities

Today’s market demands hyper-responsive organizations that can rise to the market’s current needs and challenges. Teams must adapt at increasing rates to keep up with advancing technology, communication flow, and innovation. For this reason, teams do at times reconfigure, the way they get work done, and that can often mean individual employees acquire new and different work responsibilities. 

The change can be a great opportunity for an employee to stretch and grow professionally. Whether or not the employee welcomes a new way of doing things, change does disrupt familiar patterns and diverts some of their energy from doing tasks to learning tasks. Hidden costs tax the employee during this shift, and managers don’t always notice their impact. 

Employees have agency in the way new role assignments play out. A tactful strategizing employee isn’t the same thing as a complaining employee who just wants to avoid work. The way an employee receives new marching orders can say a lot about their character and diplomatic mindset, both of which illustrate their leadership potential. Employees taking on new work responsibilities can throw off their inhibitions and take these key steps to triage change orders more systematically and increase their effectiveness from a performance standpoint.  

#1. Communicate with your managers about new responsibilities. 

Set a meeting to review new work responsibilities and clarify the details of how new tasks will get done. The details help employees evaluate the impact the new responsibilities have on their current work process.  

#2. Make adjustments.

Often employees have the power to customize their workflow but they don’t use it. The employee can propose specific modifications that help the employee take on new responsibilities conveniently and effectively. 

If they’ve already exhausted their bandwidth, they can explain to the manager the projects and responsibilities they currently have, and ask for clarification on which of them can fall off to make room for the new responsibilities. This is a great step to take in the beginning because so many issues can be solved by simply updating the responsibility list. Managers with several employees who report to them don’t always keep up with their people the way they would like to. You can take the initiative to regularly calibrate your process and make sure you’re prioritizing tasks in alignment with the current strategy. 

Related reading: Understand Your Personal Values To Succeed At Work And Life

#3. Address knowledge gaps.

Employees should evaluate their current skill sets and capabilities, and ask for any support they might need to perform the new responsibilities at their highest level. Many efficient and effective resources exist to help employees upskill while still getting work done. Employees can inquire about what their employer offers in their standard suite of training and development offerings. If none of those resonate, they can propose another resource they find independently. The employee may also confer with the Learning and Development lead. After discussing the specific need they can entrust that person to source an effective solution. 

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#4. Set Boundaries to avoid burnout. 

Good boundaries start with setting clear expectations. Employees can set boundaries and still be prized members of the team. Employees who sacrifice their well-being and always say yes to change orders with zero customization can end up sabotaging their careers. They can end up overwhelmed with too many responsibilities which can lead to their underperformance or acceptable performance at the cost of their health and personal life. Workers can avoid burnout by proactively laying out proposed expectations for the manager. The manager and employee can agree on what success looks like for the employee given their new responsibilities. This illuminates future misunderstandings and letdowns. 

#5. Keep a “yes, if” attitude.

Employees have been through a lot in the last few years. navigating a touch-and-go work environment through COVID-19 and the post-pandemic reformation era. One positive takeaway from all the traumatic changes of these economic phases has been the way it normalized employees’ involvement in customizing their change orders. Managers understand the benefits of trying to align new responsibilities to complement the employee’s professional efficiency. But employees can get the most out of their managers’ willingness to be flexible with a “Yes, if” attitude, or more often than a “No, because.” When change comes calling with new responsibilities, the employee can look at what they may need to customize to accommodate rather than all the reasons why they don’t want it. 

New responsibilities are part of the evolution in just about any career. They can add variety to the workplace and keep teams operating vibrantly. Individual employees can use new things being asked of them to leap into new opportunities. Using an intake process for change and added job requirements can make sure the role stays fresh and doable for the employee.

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