If you’re like almost half of all workers, chances are, you don’t feel challenged enough at work. In fact, Business Week recently reported that 46% of women and 49% of men say they don’t feel like they’re being challenged in their jobs. But that doesn’t mean it’s time to jump ship and look for work elsewhere.
If you don’t feel challenged at work, here are five steps you can take to start raising the bar for yourself – and make yourself more valuable to your company.
1 – Ask for Better Work.
Start by having a conversation with your boss. Approach this conversation with respect rather than frustration. It’s not going to help your job – or your relationship with your boss – to complain about things. Be able to demonstrate your competency in your current work load, and then let your boss know you feel confident in the current tasks you’re assigned to and that you’d like to take on some additional tasks. Sometimes, simply asking for new work is all it takes to add challenge to your workday.
2 – Spur Your Own Growth.
Whether or not a conversation with your boss is successful at adding new tasks to your plate, professional development is a tried and true way to improve your work. By learning more about your field or industry, discovering how to use the latest trends in your current job roles, or observing new ways to approach old processes, you can rejuvenate your thinking – and maybe even challenge the status quo yourself. Professional development comes in many shapes and sizes these days, so try several approaches and see what works for you. Join a local professional group, befriend industry leaders on social networking sites like Twitter, or learn by teaching others.
3 – Develop New Ideas.
If you want to be the kind of employee who gets the best work, often, you have to be proactive and go after it yourself. Use the knowledge, skills, and ideas you develop through professional development and apply them to your current job role. If you have a spare hour in your work day, don’t use it to catch up on personal e-mails or peruse the Internet like most workers do. Instead, step out ahead of the pack and start something that will make your own work more challenging. Use your spare time at work to develop ideas you have that could help your department or company reach its goals, save money, or better serve customers and clients. Challenge yourself to develop innovative products, cost-effective processes, or cutting-edge concepts, and you’ll feel more energized – but don’t stop there.
4 – Propose and Present.
Simply spending time developing new ideas will help you feel more challenged at work, but to add value to your company, you have to take your ideas to the next level so you can actually implement them. Some of the best tools you can use to sell your ideas to your boss – and equip them to sell your ideas to their bosses – are the proposal and the presentation. Write a well-thought-out proposal to help you clarify your idea to yourself and sell others on its value to the company. Create a thoughtful visual presentation explaining your idea, and then set up a meeting to pitch it to your boss.
5 – Follow Up and Follow Through.
Once you pitch your idea to your boss, let them know you’re serious about moving forward by asking for their immediate feedback. Ask them to give you specific questions or ideas you can use to improve your proposal. Let them know you’d like to meet again in a week or two – to talk about moving forward. Then, follow up. If they don’t adopt the idea immediately – or at all – that’s OK. New ideas are proposed all the time, and not all of them come to fruition. Continue developing ideas, listen to the critiques of your boss, and learn from the process. And if your ideas do get the green light, make sure to follow through with excellence.
If you feel your work lacks the challenge you’re looking for, don’t make the common mistake of waiting around for your boss to notice your potential. And don’t assume it means you need to find a new job.
Take the responsibility for making your own work a rewarding daily challenge, and not only will you beat the Monday morning blues, you’ll start adding accomplishments to your resume and building the career you’ve been dreaming of.