Sunday, September 21, 2008

Should You Always Take More Responsibility?

I am one of those people who will always do whatever it is to make sure my team succeeds.  If it means staying late, picking up more work, or doing whatever it is nobody else wants to do, I will do it.  Now at most companies, there are more problems than there are people to solve them.  Those who are willing to step up and grab responsibility for a problem will tend to be the ones who advance their career the fastest.

This week, I found out that one of my peers will be leaving my company.  This leaves a huge hole as this person was responsible for majority of engineers in the largest division. Despite the fact that I am no longer in the development org chart, I do program management, my boss has no logical person to temporarily take charge of the team while we find a replacement.  So I, being the person that I am, told him I would step up and manage the team.  He understands that other things will drop from my Program Management plate.  In reality, I just doubled my work load as there is nobody currently to back up my Program Management responsibilities and they are too important to not get done.

But was this a good idea?  I'm still not sure.  This takes me out of my core competency and means I will do two jobs at a lower level than my normal standards.  Now, I'm sure I will get brownie points for stepping up, but will it be worth it?  In the end, I think so, I would not have done it otherwise, but is the extra stress and workload worth a few extra brownie points?  I guess we will find out.   What do you think, should you always take on more responsibility?


  1. Before my comment, just wanted to state that I enjoy reading your blog periodically. My comment is that If you have a genuine concern to help your company or that boss regardless of brownie points, then I'm sure that will carry you through on those days when you wonder why you ever got into it in the first place. There are no guarantees of getting brownie points from anyone. I'm sure it's a lot of work, try not to get burned-out.

  2. Thanks for the kind words. I'm glad you enjoy reading my blog and I hope you keep coming back.

    I'm sure that in the end, it will be worth it. I'm not one to do anything just for brownie points. I have faith that it will work out by either a raise, a promotion, or both. If it didn't, I have a way to remedy that like anyone else; I just won't be there for too long.

  3. I don't think doubling your workload this way will hurt way, as your boss will understand what you're going through and will definitely appreciate it. In my opinion, it will be fun, and challenging, and you will be able to strengthen your position even more (much more) in your firm.

    Another way to do it was to actually wait for your boss to explicitly ask you to take the other job on top of your own (in case you thought s/he will ever ask you to do it). This will probably put you in an even stronger position.

  4. My boss did explicitly ask me to take the job. I turned it down. The problem is that the job, while potentially a better title and higher position, takes me away from what I’m interested in. It was much more important to me that I enjoy what I do and I stay on my career path, than to get a quick promotion.

  5. Just be careful that you don't become "the guy who will do it". It's good to help out, but don't set yourself up to be the one to always take the bullet.