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A year and a half ago I graduated college with a degree in EE and started working at a big company in my home town. At the time, my father was terminally ill with cancer (which was a large factor in me taking a job in my hometown). 4 months after I started, he passed away. Needless to say, my training was slower than it would have been under normal circumstances, and my work suffered a lot due to grief/depression over the next few months.

I only really told my direct supervisor, my team manager, and a couple close co-workers about my situation, and only right before my father passed. They were very understanding for a while, but it seems as though it didn't take long for them to forget that I was grieving. I am not the type to make excuses, so when I had trouble focusing and didn't accomplish much, I never blamed it on my loss.

Now that it doesn't have such a profound impact on my daily work, I've found that my supervisor is very slow to give me new responsibilities. I tell him on a fairly regular basis that I need more work, but I get maybe 70% of the work load that my peers get. I believe they have all formed the opinion that I am incapable of getting much work done, not realizing that my situation was temporary even if it was long.

How can I convince my supervisor that I can handle more urgent tasks if he wont give them to me?

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    Have you received feedback that your current quality of work is great? If not, consider the question of how well are you delivering to merit being given more. – JB King Dec 9 '16 at 1:22
  • My supervisor has said he has been satisfied with my work and acknowledges that I have been innovative above my position. That's is part of why I am confused with his reluctance to give me more projects. – BlackThorn Dec 9 '16 at 2:10
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    Are you sure there's enough work to go around that you could be given more to do? Do you feel your co-workers are overworked due to you not being assigned a "full share"? – Toadfish Dec 9 '16 at 6:45
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    I have been innovative above my position, I don't know your position but maybe he expects that you use some of the free time to use that quality ? Do you know if there are real opportunities at the moment in your company to have new responsabilities ? – Walfrat Dec 9 '16 at 8:14
  • I believe they have all formed the opinion that I am incapable of getting much work done That is an assumption. There could be other causes. – Jan Doggen Dec 9 '16 at 12:27
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Losing a close relative is difficult and can be a trying time even for the most strong of heart, my condolences.

From the comments I gather that your supervisor is satisfied with your work and therefore we could assume that he does not see you as less qualified or a burden. He might out of care ease your workload to allow you time to grieve, sadness and loss does not come at opportune times and a smaller workload might help on days when motivation for work is reduced.

Have an honest discussion with him one on one and explain why you believe to be back at 100% and that you are ready to focus that energy into project A, B or C. Avoid being accusatory and thank him for being so considerate in your trying time.

As for what you can do after stating to your boss that you have no further tasks and he is still not giving you more tasks:

  • Ask colleagues if they need any assistance or any help
  • Use the down time to improve your knowledge in company rules/standards/etc
  • Train yourself in various courses that might help in your profession edx.org has a few moog's that are free and give a start in programming/economics etc. (They are not a substitute for university but better than nothing)

The important thing is to take the initiative, if you show that you are willing to work and that you are not simply wasting company time then your tasks will increase again.

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