Tracy's blog

I’m Tracy Au and I have graduated from the Professional Writing program from university. I am an aspiring screenwriter, so this blog is used to promote my writing and attract people who will hire me to write for your TV show or movie. I write a lot about writing, TV, movies, jokes, and my daily life and opinions. I have another blog promoting my TV project at

Friday, April 3, 2015

“Ask for new tasks if you want to grow”

Feb. 16 “Ask for new tasks if you want to grow”: I cut out this article by Jodi Glickman in the Globe and Mail on Aug. 24, 2011.  This is a good article if you want to do more interesting things at work or if you’re stuck in a rut at work.


I've taken a job that seems to offer a lot of opportunity to expand my experience and move into a bigger role, but I'm continually bogged down with projects that are time-consuming and far from challenging - or even interesting. How can I deflect unwanted work in favour of projects that most interest me, and best show off my potential for a bigger role?


The most important thing to keep in mind is that you can't simply say "no thanks" when someone asks you to write your 100th press release or review another marketing brief. And you can't tell your manager you have absolutely no interest in the latest project that has landed on your desk.

What you can and should do, however, is be strategic in shifting a portion of your workload, over time, in favour of tasks that are interesting and challenging to you.

Strategically redirect

If you find yourself stuck doing unchallenging work, you have to speak up and find a way to redirect your workflow. The best way to do this is by knowing in advance which alternative or additional projects you would like to work on and then approaching your manager with several ideas about how to make that shift happen gradually. Think of the conversation not as an "either, or" but as an "in addition to."

Learn a new skill

One way to start the dialogue is to identify a project or task you'd like to work on that will accelerate your learning curve. Ask for assignments that are a stretch for you and acknowledge your desire to continue to push yourself to new levels. Highlight to your manager that you're trying to stretch yourself and frame the discussion in terms of how you can add the most value to your organization (while also acknowledging that you're not feeling particularly challenged with your current workload). Ask for opportunities to engage in more challenging work over the next few months as opposed to asking for a total redesign of your immediate workload.

Help others

Think about ways that you can assist colleagues with projects that appear more interesting. Is there a cool product launch or new marketing campaign that you'd love to be involved with? If you let your boss know that you're interested in helping a team in need, you accomplish two goals: first, getting more interesting or meaningful work; and second, helping colleagues meet their needs with your particular skill set.

Aim to stand out

Think about areas where you'll excel and where you can put your natural talents to work. Offer to work on something in the near term where you know you can hit the ball out of the park. If you have strong writing skills, offer to lend a hand writing a report, reviewing a team memo or helping to draft a new policy. Make sure to put those writing skills to use with activities considered outside your traditional role, so you can show how great you are while getting exposure to new ideas or projects.


You can also actively manage your workload by highlighting specific people or groups that you would like to work with and gain exposure to. There's nothing wrong with being blunt and letting your manager know that you've heard great things about Brian and his group, or you're eager for an opportunity to collaborate with Susan's R&D team. Raise your hand and ask for projects that will give you exposure to a variety of people so you can build your network and increase your profile within the company.

The most important factor is to focus the conversation on how you can add value to your organization by putting your talents to use elsewhere and/or by increasing your own learning curve.

If your manager pushes back and insists that you continue doing your job "as is," then, at the very least, try to negotiate some concessions. For example, work out a trade - "I'm happy to continue what I'm required to do if you will give me a chance to try my hand at something new and interesting in the next few months."

Jodi Glickman is president of Great on the Job, a Chicago-based workplace consulting firm.


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