Whether you have more work than you can do alone or you have employees looking for more to do, the time will come to give an employee more responsibility. Although you could throw more work on their plate and hope for the best, using the “sink or swim” mentality, not all team members will succeed. Instead, you can set up your employees for success by picking the right person for the task and easing them in to their new responsibilities.

Determining which employees can handle more responsibility

It’s a fact that businesses are comprised of employees who can take on more work and employees who already do all they can. The key to giving an employee more responsibility is to learn which of your team members are always looking for more challenging tasks and which struggle to complete their primary job duties. It’s important to spend time thinking about this because even your go-to person may be at capacity and unable to take on any more responsibility than they currently have.

In general, a good candidate for additional responsibility is someone who maintains their composure under pressure. As you know, the more work you give someone, the higher their stress level can rise. The ability to handle increased stress without compromising the quality of their work or attitude is critical.

Although it’s tempting to look first to those who never have enough to do, make sure you evaluate why the employee is done with work early. Is he or she able to finish quickly because of efficiency or is it because of cutting corners?

Assessing the skills of employees

Knowing the areas in which your employees excel will help you determine who can take on additional responsibility. For example, an employee who’s great with numbers is a natural choice for taking on accounting tasks. An employee who has trouble using a calculator, on the other hand, is not.

If you aren’t sure exactly what each employee can do well, consider providing a brief skills survey to each employee. You can do this by passing out forms or sending employees to an online survey site. Questions to ask may include:

  • If you could take on any additional duties within the company, what would they be?
  • What is your favorite part of your job?
  • What is your least favorite job duty?
  • What skills do you feel are underutilized?
  • What skills would you like to further develop?

Transitioning responsibilities to an employee

Once you figure out who will get more responsibility, it’s helpful to ease the person into the new duties by breaking it into tasks or phases they can take over one at a time. The main benefit is that your employee gets enough time to learn each new task before trying to learn the next. A secondary – but no less important – benefit is keeping your employee from feeling overwhelmed by their new responsibilities.