Feel stuck in a work environment where you are bored by your job? If so, you’re not alone. Only one-third of American workers are engaged in their jobs and a full 55% could care less about what they do.
If you are down on your job, chances are you’ve already “checked out” by doing as little as possible. You may even be actively looking for another position.
Until you find that new opportunity, there is a lot you can you do to improve the situation–and strengthen your credentials for that next position.
Here are five things to ask your boss for–requests that will enrich your work experience and give you more credibility with your boss (and future employer).
1. Ask if you can try out an idea
First off, come up with a new idea for your department or your company, and ask your boss if you can “pilot” it. If you’re bored, you probably have lots of mental space for such creative thinking. Don’t dismiss the possibility of making that idea a reality. Go to your boss and convince her that your idea is worth implementing.
When I was a speechwriter for a large bank, I grew increasingly bored by my work. It was the fourth speechwriting job I’d had, and the assignments seemed repetitive. But instead of mentally turning off, I proposed an idea that would help my employer–and make my job more exciting. I would offer a speechwriting seminar to the top executives who wrote their own material. My boss agreed. There was such enthusiasm for this program that it became the core idea for a business I launched and built successfully. Indeed, this “intrapreneuring” is a good way to try out a business idea.
2. Ask for a leadership opportunity
You may be a manager, IT specialist, assistant to an executive, or a VP. Whatever your role, you have a right to lead. So take the initiative, and ask your boss for a leadership role.
Suppose a departmental retreat is being planned. Single out a role you’d like to play–and think big. You might present the report on departmental metrics or prepare a video explaining why clients have rapidly adopted the company’s new offerings. Seize the opportunity to deliver visible value–and position yourself as a leader. It will impress others and strengthen your resume.
3. Tell your boss you’d like to mentor a colleague
Mentoring has growing increasingly important in today’s fast-paced and rapidly changing organizations. So create an opportunity for yourself (and help your department) by offering to mentor a new colleague.
Let’s say your boss has hired Gary to handle digital marketing. You feel you can help him get ahead by teaching him the “ins and outs” of the culture in your organization–how things get done, how collaboration works, and how to speak up without offending.
Say to your boss, “I’d like to take Gary under my wing. I’ve been here for 10 years, and feel I can introduce him to the way things work here. Would you mind?” What boss would say “no” to that offer? If this mentoring works out with Gary, you may become the “go to” person for mentoring new recruits to the department. Think of the impact you’ll have.
4. Ask if you can assist with a new project
Still another opportunity might come in assisting with a new project. See where your skills will be most valuable. If you’re a numbers wiz, you could work on the financials. If you have contacts elsewhere in the company, you might liaise with other departments.
Approach your boss and say, “You know that employee survey we discussed. I believe I can add real value to its development. Is there a role for me?”
When I was head of the company I founded, I was impressed whenever an employee offered to assist with a project. For example, a young woman named Niamh was someone I could always count on. One time when I thought I’d have to cancel a webinar because I was hoarse, Niamh offered to narrate it. She did so brilliantly–in her lilting Irish voice. I will always be beholden to her, and she has since been promoted.
5. Create a social activity for your department
Teams are held together not only by work, but by group activities that extend beyond the workplace–including basketball games and fitness classes. These not only recharge people’s batteries, but they provide an opportunity to share fun, humor, physical skills, and camaraderie.
If your department lacks such group activities, offer to develop one. Survey your colleagues and learn their interest in various possibilities. Then organize those regular basketball games or fitness workouts. Doing so will be a win for you, your colleagues, and your company.
Our job descriptions are only the beginning of what we can achieve. We can expand those roles and bring renewed excitement to our work. All five initiatives discussed in this article are things to get excited about. Who knows, you might even decide to stay put. Or if you move on you’ll be better able to sell yourself into that new role.