How to ask your boss for more meaningful work

Although a salary is important, many people wonder about trading their time for money. According to a McKinsey survey, 70% of US-based employees say their job defines their purpose and nearly half are reconsidering the type of work they do due to shifting priorities during the pandemic.

Instead of leaving your current employer to find a more fulfilling job, it’s possible to find a greater sense of purpose where you are, says Soon Yu, author of Friction: adding value by making people work for it.

One of the greatest benefits of work is that there is meaning attached to the effort. It can be learning something, teaching something, or getting better at something and being able to demonstrate mastery. A big part of the reward for a hard day’s work is knowing who you helped, how you moved the business forward, or what you proved to yourself today. Often these moments are based on times when you faced adversity and overcame it.

As companies realize they need to provide opportunities for professional development, mentorship, and career progression, employees can and should start asking for it. However, how you approach your request will likely impact your success.

How to frame the request

Don’t let demand fall into their lap, says Ken Coleman, author of From Paycheck to Goal: The Clear Path to Doing the Job You Love. “You might create a bit of unnecessary tension, even if you end up helping your boss,” he says. “Instead, you can be like a lawyer in a courtroom and guide them along the way to what you’re actually asking for.”

Do this by casting a vision. Coleman recommends showing hunger wrapped in humility. For example, “I’m grateful for this company and the job I have. I want to grow professionally and I’ve looked around me and examined my talents, what I like to do and the results that matter to me.

“I call it talent, passion and mission,” says Coleman. “Talent is what I’m good at. Passion is what I love to do. And my mission speaks to the values ​​and results that I want my work to create.

Then ask what you need to get there, such as additional training, new assignments, or additional responsibilities. Be sure to link effort to expected results, showing your boss what he can expect from you in the future.

“Paint a picture for your boss of what it will look like when you use the specific talents,” says Coleman. “You want to add more value to the business. This kind of specific and visionary casting will bring them in as participants and help get them on board.

For example, you might say, “Do you think it’s possible to make a slight adjustment in my current job?” I spend half my day doing a job that I love and would like to increase that number to 80%. I think that the extra time I devote to this type of work will generate [this benefit].”

Yu agrees that it is important that your application demonstrates the added value you will bring to the business. Another good way to phrase the request is to say, “I would like to get better at what I do, but I need help. I am willing to put in the extra time and effort if you are willing to help me. I would really like to take a course that is related to this project I am working on. I am happy to share what I learn with the team.

“Your boss would have to be an asshole to say ‘no’ to that, especially if you come up with concrete things that would help your control and autonomy,” Yu says. “If it’s in their authority, the boss will probably give you a try.”

But don’t ask if you’re not ready to put in the extra time and effort. “If you fall flat on your stomach, the probability of you getting the second favor may not be so great,” Yu says.

Meaningful work is also meaningful to your boss

Managing employees who excel in their role and add value to the business will have a positive effect on bosses. “Now you are their protege,” Yu said. [put] meaningful work in practice.

“There is humility [in] saying, “I want to bring more to the table,” Coleman adds. “It’s usually very attractive. What happens with this type of posture is that you bring your leader into the equation, and you don’t just say, “Hey, I want this.”

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