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I was hired by a small company few months back. Though I applied for a dev position, my boss got me on a different role which is not really the field I want to get into but since I was unemployed for almost months, I accepted the offer.

My boss recently started to interact with the employees to improve work environment little bit more & he will be individually meeting everyone.

It's not that I hate the current role but there are times it gets boring for me. I want to specialize in FullStack Web Development and build my portfolio around that. But I want to let him know politely in a way that he doesn't feel I hate my job. I like the office and culture but just I want to take on a different role and show my worth.

  • Have you considered how they will replace you if you change roles? – user8365 Nov 17 '14 at 15:35
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    Did you get baited into dev and switched into IT support? If so you may have a hard time convincing him cause IT roles are harder to fill. – Myles Nov 17 '14 at 20:04
  • @JoeStrazzere Not really, he will start doing that in few weeks. – user3777390 Nov 18 '14 at 3:12
  • @JeffO I haven't really thought of that – user3777390 Nov 18 '14 at 3:13
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This is best done in the context of a regular one-on-one meeting, performance review, or goal-setting meeting. I've successfully asked for changes in my work by saying something like this:

I enjoy (X, Y, Z aspects of current job), but I'd also like to be able to grow in (area A). I see that Project Such-and-Such (that uses area A) is coming up. Is there an opportunity for me to be part of that?

Your manager might respond in one of the following ways:

  • The timeframe doesn't work (I need you on Project Somethng Else at the same time). Ok, no Project Such-and-Such for you, but you're now on his radar. From time to time you can ask him about other opportunities to grow in A that fit the schedule better.

  • You're not good enough at A for their needs. Ok, you can say, what can I be doing now so that when the next project that uses A comes along I'll be ready? This leads to a discussion of individual development (and make sure you get a related performance goal in the next round).

  • Area A isn't important to us; that's just a one-time thing on Project Such-and-Such. In that case, if you really want to do A you may need to look elsewhere. Or you can explore the possibilities of B and C instead.

Finally, be prepared for it to take a while from the first time you have a conversation about your interest in A to when you're actually doing A. Even if he's willing to give you up, even if a project comes along that calls for your level of experience, and even if everybody's on-board with you making a career shift, he has to make sure your current assignment still gets done, that your successor is hired and taught the position, that you are properly mentored in the new role, that budgets align, that HR processes align... it probably won't happen quickly. Use your regular one-on-one meetings to talk about progress toward the goal.

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I'd ask him politely whether I can take part in a project with the particular stack I want to work in / learn.

Just make sure you emphasize that you like the company, the culture and the boss man himself :-), but you want to develop yourself in that area.

It's worked for me on more than one occasion.

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Try to see the scenario from your boss's view.

He hired you because he needed you to do THIS job, not another one. That doesn't mean he doesn't want you to do another job, but he needs the job he gave to you to be done first.

If he gives you other tasks, those you're working on now would not be done.

In your situation I would tell him in confidence that you applied for the job you got because you needed a job and also are able to handle it, but you would prefer that other one. Tell him that you like what you are doing now but sometimes you experience boredom.

He should not think that you are unhappy with your current position, since a unhappy employee doesn't work well. Make clear that you would perform better on that other role.

Sure, he won't give you another position if there's no need for it. Don't expect a new role when the company doesn't need it - but if your boss about your desire to move, he can react to it.

Maybe in near future he will need someone for the job that you want to do. If he doesn't know about your intent, he will hire just another person to do this. But if he knows you want it, he will give the position to you and hire another person for the job you are doing right now, which would be better for everyone.

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If it's at all possible, don't phrase it in terms of giving you what you want, phrase it in terms of how you can best serve the company (and him of course, since your good performance will reflect well on him). Depending on how important the human component is, and how important it is to the company to keep you, you might be able to get what you want by expressing your personal desire, but if you're able to convince your employer that the company will be more profitable, that his project will be more successful, or that you will be better able to serve the company in some way by taking on different responsibilities, that's going to the most likely path to success.

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