There's something unsettling about volunteering for more work, and for good reason. Taking on greater responsibility can expose volunteers to the anxiety of learning something new, the possibility of failure and, perhaps more importantly, a lack of return on one's investment of time and effort. An aversion to more "work" partly depends on how we define the term. If your job and the tasks it entails lack personal meaning, than raising your hand to do more is illogical -- particularly if the payoff is unsure. On the other hand, when your work is what you love -- or at least what interests you -- doing more of it, at a higher level, makes sense.
Engaged professionals are provided countless opportunities on a daily basis to do more. For many of us, the more pressing challenge is to do less, with greater impact. Jumping at every opportunity available is a fast track to burnout. We have to be choosy about the ones that will reap the greatest rewards individually and collectively. But how do we pick the real growth opportunities from the time wasters? Based on my own experience and observation, here are a five key questions to ask yourself as you consider taking the "more work please" plunge:
Before you can effectively evaluate an opportunity, you have to know what you're volunteering for. What specifically needs to be completed? How does the task support realization of the greater business strategy? How much time will execution demand? In peeling back the layers of the work, you'll not only build your understanding of what it entails, but also begin to assess how the activity might be refined to produce better results.
The inclination of most high-performers -- particularly those at the beginning of their careers -- is to raise their hands for more responsibility no matter its nature. We're taught that part of being a team player is to constantly do more and to prove your value by the growing volume of your responsibilities. The truth is that "doing more" is not always a gateway to leadership, nor is defaulting to the path of least resistance. Use the questions above to have a real dialogue with yourself, find the right balance, and pick the work that makes sense for you and your company.
What's your experience determining which new responsibilities to pursue?