Going Above and Beyond at Work

GoingAboveandBeyond_June2013_webCareerBuilder recently shared a survey by Harris Interactive that asked “What is the strangest thing your boss has asked you to do?” The responses ranged from asking for money to seeking a surrogate mother to helping with pets. Requests like these can be awkward. But how should you handle a more typical assignment at work that is still beyond your job description? Here are few things to consider when evaluating a new request.

Can You Learn New Skills?
If you’re asked to take on a new task, like pitching in on a project or managing a contract with a new vendor, consider the opportunity to learn a new skill. If you’re not sure it aligns with your role, ask your manager to clarify your relationship to this project. Sometimes, a particular project won’t be in your current job description because it’s a new advancement for the company and it’s not yet on anyone’s responsibility list. However, if you’re worried the project would pull you further away from your critical role, don’t be afraid to share that concern.

Is it Safe?
While companies often have standards and rules in place to keep employees safe, you shouldn’t hesitate to ask what policies and procedures would directly apply to a new project. If you’re asked to do something new, find out what the training process will be and how your work will be reviewed. Showing your concern for getting the job done right should be appreciated. If necessary, check in with your supervisor or HR team to clarify whether the task and the work environment are in line with company standards and procedures.

Are You Qualified?
Ask your manager why he or she believes you are qualified to take on a new project. If it’s a task someone else has handled, ask what their experience and education was before they began the work. If the requested task isn’t part of your job description, you shouldn’t be embarrassed to say you don’t know how to do something or that you don’t understand the task.

To make things easier, now’s a good time to clarify your role prior to additional requests coming up. Get a copy of your job description and review it with your manager. An easy way to approach this is by telling your boss you want to make sure you’re clear on your responsibilities and essential job functions.

While it’s important to stay open to new opportunities at work, make sure they align with your professional goals and expertise to ensure the highest level of success. Do you have a story of when an extra task turned into a great skill building opportunity? Share it in the comments sections below.

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