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I live in Italy.

I refused another contract in my last company, because I was really bored, they gave me tasks that were too simple and after months I felt like I had nothing to learn any more from them.

Now I have a new job in another company, also as a programmer, and I like my job here. They give me tasks closer to my tastes, but my supervisor keeps giving me immediate tasks, things that I can fix or modify on the spot. I don't have a problem with fixing projects but.. I would like to do something more complex, like a new project.

I have the skills to do it, I know many programming languages and I feel like he doesn't trust me, even if many people told me (without me asking) that he said many times that I'm a really good programmer.

I tried to be propositive, yesterday for example, one of my colleagues noticed that he had too much work to do and he was in trouble, so I tried to tell them that if he needed help to end his tasks faster I can help him, but my supervisor ignored me.

Fortunately I feel like I can learn something here and my salary is ok, but this situation is boring for me, sometimes I don't have anything to do.

I think that I shouldn't talk with his superior, maybe he knows what he does, but I don't feel so good about this situation and I don't know what to do...

How can I convince my supervisor to give me more complex things to do?


Considering the answers, i'm adding some information:

  • I'm not a support, i'm a programmer of this team.
  • The boss just did a conference with us (while my supervisor wasn't there) and said that he isn't happy about how he's handling us.
  • I'm expected to work on projects and produce for the company
  • I'm worried about the risk to result like someone who doesn't want to do anything even if I'm asking for tasks to my supervisor
  • I'm thinking about starting to ask to the boss what to do
  • Are you a contractor or a direct salaried employee? – Snow Sep 22 '17 at 8:28
  • I didn't know this "existing difference" considering that, I suppose that i'm a salaried employee, but considering that I have 3 years of contract, I'm not sure ^^ – Marco Salerno Sep 22 '17 at 8:32
  • This is agood question and one I asked my self a lot (decades before SE go online). First you must tell us how is the software production on your shop. There are shops starting new projects all the time. There are ones where a some big products are getting new addons/plugins/upgrades from time to time and there are ones where a old big monolith system is already in place in many happy clients and only minor fixes and patches are being doing. With that in mind how much of the demand in your company is maintenance and how much is inovation? – jean Sep 22 '17 at 10:44
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Your current role sounds like, what in some companies I have seen called a Support Developer; programmers who are only employed to fix bugs as they are raised by users and are not generally tasked with developing entirely new solutions or improvements. I would look over what your contract etc. says about your expected responsibilities and progression and determine if there is scope to do more.

Have a look at what your other programmer colleagues are doing; are they divided between support and greenfield development? If so, you should approach your manager and express an interest in officially switching roles, citing your proven skills and experience. From the sound of it, even your fellow colleagues could back you up on this!

If your manager is still ignoring your requests, it may be best to look for a Product / Application Developer role elsewhere. If an interview comes around, your prospective employer will likely think your motive for moving is entirely reasonable; you want a more progressive and challenging job that you are not currently getting. You will still have to do support tasks, but it will likely not take up an overwhelming majority of your time.

  • Just added info on my question to let you answer properly – Marco Salerno Sep 22 '17 at 9:59
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It doesn't sound to me to be a case of your supervisor not trusting you or anything along those lines. I'm assuming from how your question is written that you are still relatively new at this company? That being the case it really isn't unusual for a lot of the "support developer" type tasks, fixes and so on to fall on the new guy for a while. So talk to him, I don't mean in the context of another's coworker like you have tried previously. I mean arrange a quick one-to-one chat with him and approach it something like this:

Hi [Boss], I was wondering if we could talk about upcoming work for me? I feel like I have found my footing here now and I'm keen to work on something I can really get my teeth into. Are there any upcoming projects that you think I can be of use on?

This sort of positive approach is much more likely to be well recieved then approaching it from a negative aspect such as:

Hi [Boss], I was wondering if we could talk about upcoming work for me? I'm finding my current work boring and I want something more interesting instead.

You're essentially saying the same thing in both but one gives the impression of a keen, enthusiastic worker that wants to step up and help tackle the business' needs and the other sounds like a disgruntled worker who needs to be kept happy or he'll be a Problem. It's not rocket science to work out which is going to get the warmer reception.

Something I think you need to bear in mind though is that ultimately you're employed to achieve tasks that the business needs doing and those tasks aren't always going to fall under the headings of "interesting" or "things you'd like to be working on", it's pretty much one of the reasons why we get paid to go to work - because they understand that you'd rather be doing other things with your time. You wouldn't expect to go into a restaurant and have the chef complain to you for ordering the steak and say that you need to order the lasagna instead because it's more interesting for them to cook! Certainly if there is nothing that interests you in the foreseeable future then it's absolutely okay to do exactly what you did previously and vote with your feet but it's unrealistic to always expect that there is going to be interesting work to do on demand.

EDIT: Just a few additional comments following the OP's update..

I'm not a support, i'm a programmer of this team.

I think when people have used the term "support" in comments/answers they were referring more to things like fixes or modifications to existing projects which is still programming obviously just not "greenfield" development.

The boss just did a conference with us (while my supervisor wasn't there) and said that he isn't happy about how he's handling us.

This would suggest to me that the boss might be the best person to talk to about your concerns rather than your direct supervisor. The approach I suggested above is still the same one I would take to be honest. You do need to be additionally careful however not to throw your supervisor under the bus in the process. Avoid saying bad things about them, even if the boss starts it. I've seen that sort of thing come back to bite people in the behind way too many times!

I'm worried about the risk to result like someone who doesn't want to do anything even if I'm asking for tasks to my supervisor

I'm assuming by this you mean you are worried about looking like someone who doesn't want to do anything? That being the case then this is precisely why I suggest the "keen and enthusiastic" approach above.

  • Just added info on my question to let you answer properly – Marco Salerno Sep 22 '17 at 9:59
  • did the boss elaborate on which aspects of your supervisor's actions he's unhappy with? If they referred to the same concerns you have regarding allocation of people to projects etc then I'd be tempted to take that as an opening to discuss your concerns with him instead of your supervisor – motosubatsu Sep 22 '17 at 10:03
  • yes that's what i did and what i'm planning to do, if i wait my supervisor i may look wrong – Marco Salerno Sep 22 '17 at 10:05
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The answer from @motosubatsu sums up what you could do to get work from your supervisor. I will talk about handling this from the other aspect.

There are two ways to handle this situation. One way is to keep chasing your lead till he gives you what you want. Second way, a little more difficult, is to create opportunities yourself.

Do you know any upcoming initiative in the organization where you can contribute? You need to build a strong network to be able to get that kind of information.

There is always work which is in pipeline. Can you do a quick Proof of concept and show it to senior management?

Then there is always upcoming stuff in the field you are working.It may be purely technical, like this new framework which has come in market. Can you do an analysis and list its benefits , where to use it?

Technical organizations often have places like blogs where you can publish your findings. If not, can you start one blog site on a server in the organization? Or on cloud which is not open to rest of the world?

Few years ago we formed what we called Center of excellences. It was essentially a technical group of like minded people in the organization who were considered experts in technology. You could start that.

You could also look at the latest in the business side. Is there anything upcoming in your industry where you can work and contribute as a tech expert ? See how technology/ product will get impacted by regulation? Can you suggest a new product / tool which can cut down time for developers/ any other improvement with numbers and proof of concept ( meaning something which you have tried and works, not just theory).

And lastly, in technology , lot of work happens on open source projects. If you are so bored, can you join a few and become active collaborator? It may not help you in your job directly, but will certainly help you in honing your skill.

The purpose of all these suggestions is to make you think that there are a lot of things you can do on your own which does not need your lead to assign work to you. You can make decision on what you want to do and just complete it. Not every thing you try will be successful. But if you persist, eventually people will notice. And someone higher up will be more comfortable assigning you extra work because you have proven yourself.

Please do keep in mind to keep your assigned work complete. It should not happen that you are chasing some extra things at the cost of your current assignment.

If you do that and are able to contribute to 2-3 areas on your own without management allocating work, sooner or later it should get noticed. Even if it doesn't, you will grow and get out of boredom.

Personally, I appreciate people who can find work for themselves when they have less on their plate. If you keep your focus on finding work which suits you without messing up the work assigned to you, people will start looking at you as the go to person and growth in terms of role, complex projects etc will start coming to you.

People get picked up based on what they have done, not what they think they can do :). Work first, and then demand. Create a value for yourself, management will run after you to keep you happy.

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