MPW Insider is an online community where the biggest names in business and beyond answer timely career and leadership questions. Today’s answer for: How do you stay motivated at work? is written by Erica Galos Alioto, vice president of local sales at Yelp.
I am most motivated when I’m learning something new, which is why I always try to engage in at least one project outside of my everyday responsibilities at work. This can be something directly related to my role at work, like completely rethinking a particular process that we may have had in place for years, or a side job, inside or outside of my company. After a number of years in a particular role, you (hopefully) start to master it, and become more of a teacher than a student. So finding outside interests that create value and allow me to learn are key to staying motivated in my day job.
However, there are a few things to consider when you’re looking for a new project at work. First, assess whether or not it’s appropriate to simply ask your manager for more interesting work. Often times when employees ask me for an additional opportunity I don’t have one immediately available. To ensure your boss will think of you when new opportunities arise, it’s best to show a deep interest in a particular aspect of the business. This way, when a project comes up in that area your manager will automatically think of you.
But perhaps the best way to get a new project is by starting the project yourself. For example, by saying “I’ve been thinking a lot about how we do XYZ and I think we could do it better. Would you mind if I took a stab at a new way of doing this and test it out?” I love receiving this kind of interest from my team, for two reasons. First, showing this kind of initiative makes my job easier because it allows me to see the areas of interest and begin to create a path for my employees to expand upon those interests. And second, it shows me they are engaged in the business and thinking strategically about it, rather than just going through the motions. Additionally, it’s a great way to stand out from your peers. When I’m making promotion decisions within my team, I often seriously consider the people who are finding ways to add value beyond what is expected of them.
If you’re interested in pursuing a side job outside of your current position, the best piece of advice I can offer is be sure to vocalize that interest. A few years ago, my company started a new foundation. I wanted to be involved, so I asked how to get more information on the initiative. Before I knew it, the CEO and COO asked me to join the foundation’s board. If I didn’t express my interest directly to them, they never would have known I wanted to get involved. The work I am doing on the Yelp Foundation is some of the most fulfilling work I do, and as a result, serves as a motivator for me to do even better work in my day job.
Read all answers to the MPW Insider question: How do you stay motivated at work?
How this CEO finds motivation at work every day by Perry Yeatman, CEO of Perry Yeatman Global Partners.
The art of staying motivated at work by Beth Fisher-Yoshida, director of Negotiation and Conflict Resolution Program at Columbia University.
The best lesson I learned from joining a board by Juliet de Baubigny, partner at Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers.
5 secrets to stay motivated at work by Sarah Robb O’Hagan, president of Equinox.