I received this question through my "Ask Lisa"?? question submission page. It´s an interesting and unusual question, so I thought I would share it and my response with everyone.
Occupation: technical analyst
Question: This has happened in every professional job I’ve ever had: I get bored because I don’t have enough work to do. When I’m given work, I tackle it right away and do as good a job as I know how to do on it. I don’t ‘mete out’ my work just to fill 40 hours. When I start a new job, I always start by asking my boss for more work when I have time on my hands. In this job, I’ve gotten the weirdest reaction I’ve ever seen to this question.
At first, the reply was, "Just wait, you’ll be busy once you get up and running with our processes." Ok, I can buy that. But when I did get ‘up and running’, I still had time on my hands. When I asked for more work, I was told that I MUST NOT BE DOING ENOUGH WITH THE WORK I HAD. I about fell out of my chair when I heard that. There was no attempt to look at my workload vs. output. No attempt to give me more work.
So, boredom set in. Apathy set in. I stopped asking for more work because I got the same reply every time. I started working less than 40 hours a week (as a salaried employee, they pay me to do what they give me to do, and I was doing that). And what do you know? I get WRITTEN UP.
So, other than quit because my boss is an idiot, what can I do to make her see that a)I’m doing as good a job on my work as I can; b)that my best IS good enough; c)that I’m just performing better than she must be used to, so she should keep me challenged instead of punishing me when I develop apathy?
Sorry this is so lengthy. Thanks for your input!
Response: I must say, this is an unusual situation. I cannot see this occurring at any of the places I have ever worked. I have never known a manager to respond the way yours has.
I do not know you, so I am going to give you two responses based on two potential realities (I´m sure there are many possible realities, but I will address these two).
Here´s the first set of assumptions:
- The quality of your work is great and you are just super fast, focused, and efficient.
- You are not leaving parts of your job undone or ignored.
If this is the case, then you might try offering up suggestions for ways you think you can best contribute to the company. Be proactive in recommending projects or tasks. You might offer to train others or to prepare for upcoming projects. Offer to create and share helpful resources or spend more time working directly with internal clients.
I hear you that you think you boss is an idiot. That said, what are her goals? What gnarly problems are getting in her way? How can you help make her more successful?