How to Tell Your Boss You’re Bored (and What You Need Next)

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Cassandra Pratt17
VP of People at Progyny
July 25, 2024 at 7:42PM UTC

According to Gallup Daily, “51% of employees are actively looking for a new job or watching for new job opening.” And not being challenged is a top reason people leave their jobs

Harvard Business Review noted, “research shows that higher engagement in its various forms tends to predict a range of positive organizational outcomes, such as individual job performance, team effectiveness and customer satisfaction ratings. Meanwhile, lower engagement has been linked to a range of problematic outcomes, such as increased turnover, absenteeism and stress. Despite the organizational benefits of engagement, global estimates indicate that most employees are not fully engaged at work.”

As leaders, we talk about employee engagement and how to improve it. But sometimes, when it comes to the granular level, we need to be reminded that our reports need more. Before you walk up to your boss to say you’re bored, take some time to plan out the conversation. It’s an important topic, and deserves extra thought to ensure you can clearly explain your position and your solution.

Here are some steps to take: 

1. Evaluate what you do on a daily basis. 

Identify the most boring and repetitious aspects of your position.Identify your strengths.You can ask a coworker to also identify your top strengths to give you an outside perspective.  Are their aspects of what you do that a more junior person may view as a challenge? This may free up your time to work on something new.

2. Identify what you want. 

Is it a new challenge, with increased opportunity for learning a new skill or learning a different area of the business? Do you feel that the role you’re in now is a mismatch for your skills?  Are you looking for an immediate or future promotion?

3. Come up with solutions.

Yes, multiple solutions; at a minimum, two.  You want this to be a constructive conversation.  If you come to the table with only one solution, it could be viewed as an ultimatum.  By providing multiple solutions, you’re able to direct the conversation and show that you’re open to a variety of possibilities and you’re willing to work towards the best outcome for you and the team.  Keep the conversation positive.  By providing solutions and staying positive you’ll be viewed as a problem solver rather than someone who just doesn’t like their job.
  • If you’re looking for more responsibilities: identify potential projects or improvement areas for your team that you could lead.  Think about what you’d like to gain from the experiences as well.  What new skill or perspective will you gain?  How will that help your career now and in the future?
  • If you’re looking for a promotion: identify opportunities within your company that you think you’re a good fit for based on your strengths.  Don’t just invent a new job; create a framework to build on what you’ve done and explain a positive outcome that will be created for the team based on this opportunity.
  • Schedule the conversation: Set aside 45 minutes to an hour.  Know that the conversation might need a second meeting after you’ve presented your insights.
  • Be open and honest: Be transparent in both what bores you currently and what challenges lie ahead.  Don’t try to sugar coat or hide any potential obstacle you may face.  You want to build trust with the conversation. There is always a learning curve with new opportunities.
  • Make it a long-term plan, not a quick fix: If you’re looking to walk out of the first meeting with a well-defined new career path you will probably be disappointed.   Think of this as a leap forward in enhancing your career with your company.  A quick fix won’t provide lasting challenges or results.  You want to create a plan that will grow with you in the future. That needs a regular assessment to ensure it stays aligned with your goals and the company’s goals.

The CEO at a prior company told me one of his biggest frustrations was when a high performer would come to him to resign without ever having a conversation like the one above. It’s impossible to read people’s minds and managers and leaders want to know when someone is willing to take on more responsibility.  Before you give up on your company and become part of the 51 percent, give them an opportunity to meet the challenge.  You will probably be pleasantly surprised by the outcome, if not you’ll know you gave it your best.

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