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How to Clarify Job Responsibilities With Bosses

Ideally, your job description encompasses all possible responsibilities for your position and explains the duties in a clear and specific manner. Unfortunately, job descriptions are often incomplete and may result in you performing duties that are too challenging, too easy or otherwise incorrectly assigned. Whether you've been at your current job for 10 years or 10 minutes, such confusion is not unlikely. The best solution is to assert yourself and approach your boss with your concerns. Review and Make a List Review a copy of your job description. Remember that job descriptions aren't always an exhaustive list of all of the job duties your boss expects you to perform. Make a list of job duties you have been routinely performing but that are not in your job description. Write down questions you have about the duties, such as whether you have the authority level to perform them. Note the job duties that you perform that are significant to the job or particularly challenging. This analysis will help you explain your workload to your boss. Extra duties: Submission of quarterly compliance reports to the federal government. Approving leave requests submitted by clerical staff and verifying time cards.

Ask for a Meeting Ask your boss for a meeting to clarify your job responsibilities. Bring a copy of your job description, the list of "extra" duties and the questions you have about specific duties. For example, if you believe one of your listed job duties isn't specific enough, plan to ask your boss to clarify the duty and his expectations. In addition, take a notepad and pen for jotting important notes during the meeting.

Example: I want to do the best job I can for the company. My job description indicates that I am responsible for staff development training. Could you clarify the frequency and goals of the training you would like me to plan and present?

Discuss Your Job Responsibilities Tell your boss that you understand the duties in your job description, or ask questions about the ones you do not understand. Discuss your current workload; duties that are too difficult or too easy; tasks you propose because they satisfy an unfulfilled need in the workplace; and issues regarding your level of responsibility. The discussion is an opportunity for you to characterize your workload and for your supervisor to convey his expectations. If you've taken on more challenging responsibilities without having any lesser responsibilities removed, politely offer ways of addressing that issue.

Example: Would it be possible for you to delegate some job duties to another employee? Paraphrase to Clarify. When listening to your boss' explanation of your job duties and his expectations, paraphrase what he says to clarify. For example, if your boss tells you that he expects you to perform the role of team leader, supervise the team's efforts on the days that he's out of the office and report to him via email, paraphrase to make sure you understand.

Example: So, in your absence, you want me to supervise the team and report progress and problems to you via email? This will ensure that you and your boss share a common vision of your responsibilities.

Follow Up After you have clarified your job duties with your boss, you may need to clarify your duties with other people in the workplace, such as co-workers or other supervisors. For example, ask your boss to inform your co-workers if you're taking on new supervisory responsibilities. Other supervisors in your department need to know of your new status so they can confer with you as needed. This will make the transition easier for both you, your co-workers and other supervisors. In addition, follow up with your boss as soon as possible to let her know whether your newly clarified job responsibilities are satisfactory or not. If some of your job duties are not satisfactory, ask your boss for guidance to improve your situation.



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