I am not very good at my job

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afoolwithmoney
Posts: 42
Joined: Sun Aug 30, 2015 10:31 pm

I am not very good at my job

Post by afoolwithmoney »

I’ve been working at a major tech company for almost a year now. Never worked at a place this big before. I’m doing research work. The work is really interesting and challenging - it truly is a dream job. And yet I just don’t feel like I’m doing well, at all.

I’m having difficulties finishing tasks, taking way long to finish things than my teammates. I’ve been getting overwhelmed with my to do list and it causes me to be unfocused and even lazy throughout the day. Feels like some days I get one good hour out of 8, or less. And I’ve been pulling back socially, having lunch on my own most of the time.

A big part of it is feeling intimidated by all the geniuses that work here. I don’t know if I can catch up with their knowledge at my current slow rate. Just feels impossible so I find myself not trying very hard, or not for very long.

Any advice on how to get through this before my manager figures me out and gives me the boot?
Last edited by afoolwithmoney on Fri Jan 24, 2020 7:13 am, edited 1 time in total.
minimalistmarc
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Re: I am not very good at my job

Post by minimalistmarc »

50% of your colleagues will either be above or below average. You can be the “worst” but still performing perfectly well. Speed doesn’t always mean better, some people are slapdash.

Those in highly skilled/educated jobs like medicine/it/engineering often suffer from imposter syndrome. https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Impostor_syndrome

Sounds to me like you are conscientious, hard working employee
biturbo
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Re: I am not very good at my job

Post by biturbo »

How much of this is your feeling versus what you are hearing from your manager and others? You should have had at least one formal review by now and more frequent informal talks with your manager - what has feedback been like in those? Have you had any compensation changes since you started? If so, what did they look like?

I ask because a lot of tech companies do a poor job of onboarding people, and it isn't uncommon to feel like this when you join a new company. Beyond the job itself, there are always massive piles of undocumented stuff you run into, and data science jobs can be particularly tricky in this way. Years ago, I started a new job and felt overwhelmed and wasn't sure how I was doing. My boss called me into his office one day and I thought "oh boy, here we go.." and it turns out he thought I was doing great work and gave me a bonus.

Not saying this is the case for you - it is certainly possible you are actually underperforming to some degree, but I do think it is important to figure out how much of it is in your head and how much of it is real (at least from your manager or teammates' perspectives). If you haven't gotten a lot of feedback, don't be afraid to ask for it. I've done it before and I've had new employees ask me - it is a perfectly reasonable thing to ask "hey, how am I doing so far?" and you'll at least know where you stand after you ask it.

The worst thing you can do is what you are doing now - withdrawing and giving up. If you are right and you are underperforming, then you are just digging a deeper hole for yourself and foregoing any learning that can come from this. If you are wrong, then it will become a self-fulfilling prophecy and eventually you will actually be underperforming.

If you feel stuck on certain tasks, I've found that breaking them up into small chunks that are achievable in small amounts of time (half an hour to a few hours in most cases) can help you move forward, and often things that were making it hard for you to make progress shake out of that process. Often times a task is missing some definition that makes it hard for you to make progress, so one of your tasks may be to ask for clarification. Or perhaps there is data you don't understand because you haven't worked with it before and it is poorly documented, so now you know you need to ask for help on it. This might also make it easier to understand the areas that are tripping you up, and maybe you can get help on those or spend time learning new things to become more productive.

Small wins can help you get your confidence back and get you back into a productivity groove.

I have been in your shoes a few times in my career - don't give up! As long as you are still there (and not on a pip), it is possible to get back to feeling good about your job. Get feedback from your boss and take a step back to figure out why you are feeling this way and what is actually holding you back.
medic
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Re: I am not very good at my job

Post by medic »

If you're underperforming, your manager probably has already noticed. If you've been there a year, have you had an annual review yet?
If you're mid-cycle and worried about this, approach your boss more open ended. Ask him "I've been here a year now, and I wanted to get a sense if I'm on track?"

What's taking you a long time - collecting the data, the analysis, the write up, etc? If you can root cause what's causing the time issues then you can either self-correct or ask focused questions to your peers or boss like, "I feel like I'm sitting in on a lot of meetings that are interrupting my flow to get work done. Would it be okay if I blocked off my time from 8-12 and embargo all emails and meetings for the afternoon. THe mornings are my most productive time and I really want to focus."

Whatever you do, I wouldn't repeat what you have posted here with your boss. Managers want employees not to just pose problems, but show that they've put some thought into a possible solution. They also want confidence (note, not overconfidence) and are not likely to respond well to someone who indicates they're totally underwater.
politely
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Re: I am not very good at my job

Post by politely »

Genius is overrated - especially by those who are not... and those who think they are.
cogito
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Re: I am not very good at my job

Post by cogito »

I had serious imposters syndrome in my tech/art job for the first 5 years of my career. It actually helped me, because in reality I overperformed and had no ego, thanks to my mistakenly poor view of myself and my abilities. I would focus on doing the best you can, getting outside of your head, and realizing that most people are faking it till they make it anyways. It gets better, careers are long. Focus on what you can change, and what you can control.
manatee2005
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Re: I am not very good at my job

Post by manatee2005 »

afoolwithmoney wrote: Fri Jan 24, 2020 2:15 am I’ve been working at a major tech company for almost a year now. Never worked at a place this big before. I’m doing research / data science work. The work is really interesting and challenging - it truly is a dream job. And yet I just don’t feel like I’m doing well, at all.

I’m having difficulties finishing tasks, taking way long to finish things than my teammates. I’ve been getting overwhelmed with my to do list and it causes me to be unfocused and even lazy throughout the day. Feels like some days I get one good hour out of 8, or less. And I’ve been pulling back socially, having lunch on my own most of the time.

A big part of it is feeling intimidated by all the geniuses that work here. I don’t know if I can catch up with their knowledge at my current slow rate. Just feels impossible so I find myself not trying very hard, or not for very long.

Any advice on how to get through this before my manager figures me out and gives me the boot?
Fake it till you make it.
shess
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Re: I am not very good at my job

Post by shess »

afoolwithmoney wrote: Fri Jan 24, 2020 2:15 am I’ve been working at a major tech company for almost a year now. Never worked at a place this big before. I’m doing research / data science work. The work is really interesting and challenging - it truly is a dream job. And yet I just don’t feel like I’m doing well, at all.

I’m having difficulties finishing tasks, taking way long to finish things than my teammates. I’ve been getting overwhelmed with my to do list and it causes me to be unfocused and even lazy throughout the day. Feels like some days I get one good hour out of 8, or less. And I’ve been pulling back socially, having lunch on my own most of the time.

A big part of it is feeling intimidated by all the geniuses that work here. I don’t know if I can catch up with their knowledge at my current slow rate. Just feels impossible so I find myself not trying very hard, or not for very long.

Any advice on how to get through this before my manager figures me out and gives me the boot?
I hear you! After over a decade of having a clear notion of who the strongest people on the team were, I eventually got hired to my level, and it was intimidating!

I think an important thing to realize is that you don't need to be more talented than your co-workers, or even than the average co-worker - you only need to perform strong enough to be worth retaining. Different companies have different goals on this front, and some have negative goals (stack-rank and fire the bottom being notable), so this doesn't mean you're completely off the hook! Just that instead of worrying about how you're doing relative to other people, try to focus on worrying if you're doing the right work for you.

Keep in mind that at a FAANG-type company, there's a lot of hiring of self-directed people who are then cut loose to figure out what needs to be done, so building an infinite todo list is kind of expected. It's par for the course for talented people given resources to spare. Try to identify the things you really do need to do, and say no to the other things rather than dividing yourself too finely. Sometimes/Often those other things are things someone else thinks you need to do. That doesn't mean they're right! If you're not sure how to prioritize, consider giving priority based on how well you can do something, because doing good work is a morale booster even if it's not perfectly prioritized.

Also, maybe do some reading on burnout. I let it go "too long", to the point where when I decided to quit it was exciting, and three years later I'm still not finding myself as engaged as I used to be on software projects, and it makes me sad. Instead of pushing harder, it can sometimes be better to arrange to spend LESS time, to help focus. Also, consider whether there are ways to change the context which is dragging you down - go work for 30 minutes on a conference table with a paper pad and no computer, spend some time pair programming with someone, automate something minor which doesn't have so much pressure on it. Intentionally mix it up to give you brain a chance to relax.

Hmm. And if you're anything like me, it might also help to audit your internal mailing lists and discussion forums, and unsub and disconnect from those that generate negative energy. This is good to do when you return from vacation, because you can see a week of interactions all at once.
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steve roy
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Re: I am not very good at my job

Post by steve roy »

I once taught eighth grade history at a California junior high school (way back when they were still called "junior high schools".)

I thought I was awful at it. The kids were rambunctious and hard to control, and I began to yearn for a shotgun that I could fire into the ceiling to A) get their attention and B) quiet them down.

The weeks plodded along, and I moaned about my shaky classroom control to other teachers in the teachers' lounge. A few grizzled veteran came by to look for themselves. One of them took me aside and said, "Your classes are bad."

"I know that," I replied.

"No, no," he said. "I mean your students. They're bad, really bad. I've got a few of them, know some of the others. But you've got a whole bunch. All together! And they're the worst behavior problems in the school. Really."

I thought he might be saying the above (i.e., lying) just to make me feel better. But I decided he wasn't when, a month later, I left for a better-paying job and the Vice Principal tried ... and failed ... to get one of his most reliable substitutes to take over my classes. The sub said, "I'll have to look at Steve's grade book before I say yes." I took the grade book up to the administration office for him to examine; he flipped through the pages shaking his head and frowning.

"No ... no .... NO" These kids, I've had most of them. They're AWful. I'm not taking Steve's classes. No way."

The Vice Principal wasn't happy.

I relate the above because, reading about YOUR experience, I think you might be too close to your performance to assess it correctly. Your skills could be fine. The issue could be your demoralization and resulting slow-down that's the problem. Stick with it. And know that many people are insecure about their skil-lsets, even when objectively, they are quite good at what they do.
snowox
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Re: I am not very good at my job

Post by snowox »

I agree with what others have mentioned that what your doing now by isolating yourself is the worse thing you could be doing and the other extreme believe fake it till you make it is the better way to be thinking about it. Realistically somewhere in the middle is where I would try to have my mindset and find out if your being rational in your thinking about yourself by finding out what your boss feels. If you haven't had a sit down yet , there is no reason you cant be the one to initiate it simply by asking for a sit down. Then just simply impress on them you care and want to advance in your job so are curious if your going about things the way there happy with and if not what would they like you to concentrate on. Better to know some answers before climbing into a hole you might not need to be. And if its negative then you know to start looking and just buy some time till you find something else.
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mrspock
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Re: I am not very good at my job

Post by mrspock »

I've been at a FAANG type company for almost a decade, here's some tips I've learned along the way:

1. Leverage your Manager - At most of these companies they are there to support you, in other words, they work for you, not the other way around. If you feel you are having a tough time wading through the noise, ask for help from your manager -- this is their job, especially so if you are more junior. At the same time, make sure you "pay it forward" and look for ways to help your manager succeed, for example don't let them get blindsided or mis-informed, include them in the decision making process by asking them for wisdom or advice and give them credit/recognition when they've helped bring resources to bear on a project or unblock something.

2. Focus on what matters - Stop and think through what really matters to your team, to your org and to your company. Position yourself to work on that during roadmap planning or whatever process you use to plan your half or year.

3. Geniuses - Yes, small numbers of very gifted people are identified and leveraged, however they exist in too small of a quantity as to really concern yourself with "competing" with them. What moves these large companies is large groups of teams composed of smart, educated, dedicated and hardworking engineers who come together to build great things. If you get to know them, they came from all walks of life, all kinds of schools and all "classes" -- don't be intimidated, they are just like you!

4. Imposter syndrome - It's perfectly normal to feel as you do, nearly everyone goes through this. In fact, from time to time, I still feel this way -- but you need to have faith in yourself and whatever process your company uses to determine performance (it won't be perfect, but it should at least be fair and reasonable).

5. Feedback - Ask for (and listen for) it regularly, don't wait for your performance reviews. Are tasks or projects taking too long to get done? Ask for feedback on your project management style, if it's coding, then ask for feedback on your dev environment setup (IDE, UNIX shell, shortcuts etc).

6. Consider the people just as much as the "tech" - Yes it's important to work on the things which intersect your skill set and passions, however IMO, the people you work with are just as (if not more) critical to having a successful career, especially so when you are starting out. Choose wisely what team you join, choose wisely what manager you have -- when you get more senior, choose wisely under which directors or VPs you work for. You will not be able to out work or out smart poor leadership.

7. Save your money - If you are in a FAANG company, you are in the NBA, NHL or NFL of Corporate America and it's no surprise they have comp levels which rival those sporting leagues. Unfortunately, just as those leagues, long 15-20 year careers are not the norm so live as though you might be making this kind of cash for 8-10 years, after which you'll likely go in a new direction to better your work-life balance. There's a reason they call it a "ride" in Silicon Valley: it ends!

8. Leverage Strengths, work on weaknesses - You will have strengths and weaknesses, figure out what they are and leverage the strengths and put effort into improving your weaknesses. For me, grit was a strength -- I'm not that engineer who necessarily the quickest -- but I don't have to be... I can work far longer, far more consistently and with far less frustration than most. A weakness? x-team collaboration, this did not come naturally to me at all vs. my more naturally empathetic colleagues, I had to work hard to figure out how to work well with large groups of engineers, and I had to be very intentional about improving in this area.

9. Do you - You are the star of your life story, and your career. Learn from others, but don't compare yourself to them, they have their path, you will have yours.

10. Mentor and Teach - As Yoda said: "Pass on what you have learned". As you figure things out, help those who come up behind you by being a good teammate and maybe even a mentor, you'll be surprised how much you learn and improve just by helping others.

Good luck, you'll be fine!
Last edited by mrspock on Fri Jan 24, 2020 5:40 am, edited 3 times in total.
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ChowYunPhat
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Re: I am not very good at my job

Post by ChowYunPhat »

afoolwithmoney wrote: Fri Jan 24, 2020 2:15 am it truly is a dream job. And yet I just don’t feel like I’m doing well, at all.
This is a rare gift. Most people work to eat and pay the bills. It is glorious to work in a field and place where you feel valued and enjoy the work. Let's just start with the fact that you like what you're doing, and you matter as a person.
afoolwithmoney wrote: Fri Jan 24, 2020 2:15 am And I’ve been pulling back socially, having lunch on my own most of the time.
This is not good. In fact you need to be going in the opposite direction. Whether you're in introvert or not, having friends and a work-coalition is vital for success and your mental health. Find 1-2 people and take them to lunch...get started on this.
afoolwithmoney wrote: Fri Jan 24, 2020 2:15 am A big part of it is feeling intimidated by all the geniuses that work here. I don’t know if I can catch up with their knowledge at my current slow rate. Just feels impossible so I find myself not trying very hard, or not for very long.
These so called geniuses all have personal challenges and insecurities too. You don't know that because more than likely you're not close enough with them to understand. You'd be surprised what you'd learn with some investment in another's life.

Best of luck to you afoolwithmoney. You can do this.
A wise man and his money are friends forever...
HomeStretch
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Re: I am not very good at my job

Post by HomeStretch »

You may or may not be technically good at your job or as talented as your co-workers. But you are sabotaging your job performance by underperforming while distracted and lazy as well as withdrawing socially.

Make a choice whether to re-dedicate yourself and try some of the suggestions, above, or to look for other employment. Best of luck.
jharkin
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Re: I am not very good at my job

Post by jharkin »

Lots of fabulous advice above. Imposter syndrome is VERY real... Ive been there myself, thought that the demand of the job was ridiculous and couldn't understand how others finished before me.

Like you I feared the worse, until one day I... got promoted... and management revealed that they load us all on purpose to identify to weed out the true star performers from the the average folks. What I learned on the other side is that many of those folks who finished "fast" where just doing sloppy incomplete work that had to be reworked later on. You would be shocked how many people are good at "looking productive" but are really just mediocre at best.

Focus on improving yourself.. work on finding ways to stay engaged... ask your mentors for feedback. Network and be social even if you have to force yourself or do silly stuff like practice in front of hte mirror to get psyched up for it. It will all payoff down the road.
Cycle
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Re: I am not very good at my job

Post by Cycle »

Consider reading Deep Work by Cal Newport, or the cliff notes
Never look back unless you are planning to go that way
Nowizard
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Re: I am not very good at my job

Post by Nowizard »

Your posting reflects testimony to this site as a place where most anything can be posted with confidence that thoughtful responses will be received and that you are open to discussing your concerns rather than focusing on submerging them. It seems there are at least two aspects of your concerns: Is your anxiety reflective of a more general pattern of your personal psychology? Are there close friends or family who can comment on whether you generally function positively regarding your overall adjustment? Do they see any recent changes? Do others feel your general level of confidence and function are diminished generally rather than in the area of job performance? Secondly, are there colleagues you trust who can give you direct feedback on your job performance?

In other words, many say that anxiety is something "bad" that is to be eliminated by focusing on its symptoms with better eating, more exercise, medication, etc. In reality anxiety is a positive contributor to our functioning in the sense that it is a signal to take a look at its source to determine whether/where it is reality oriented or not and what changes are necessary. That determination affects the next step in an action plan.

Tim
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Watty
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Re: I am not very good at my job

Post by Watty »

Part of it could be that you have a bad manager. Often technical people who are promoted into management positions are terrible people managers.

Even if how you feel is real and you are not up to the job your manager should be working with you and there should be little doubt of where you stand.

Sometimes you need to actively manage your manager :D to make sure that you get the things from them that you need. You mentioned often eating lunch alone. Try to see if you can have lunch with your manager on a regular basis.

One thing you might talk with your manager about is finding someone to mentor you. This might not be someone in a manager position but might be one of the more senior technical people.

One huge advantage of approaching your manager first is that might give you some slack since it shows that you are aware of the problem and trying to address it. If it goes on until your manager feels that they have to "do something" then that is not good.
afoolwithmoney wrote: Fri Jan 24, 2020 2:15 am I’ve been pulling back socially, having lunch on my own most of the time.
If you have something like gym or exercise bikes that people use at lunch then start using those. You will see the same people there each day and even meet people in other groups. Getting away from your desk and getting some physical activity may give you a fresh start in the afternoon.

You might want to consider getting some counseling to help work through some of the feelings that you have. Some employers have Employee Assistance Programs(EAP) that you could consider working with.
mc2
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Re: I am not very good at my job

Post by mc2 »

Respectfully, I cannot help but think you are someone who needs praise-and I truly hope you get what you deserve. However, if you're an adult in a big company and you are doing your job, your reward is your paycheck and your continued employment. I'd encourage you to think about that-seriously.
Maybe it's my upbringing, but that's what I've typically regarded as praise. I never really had anxiety about my performance. I have 20 years of continued personal, professional and financial growth, the respect from coworkers. I do my job well, called in sick once, have been absolutely forthright with my employer about anything and everything. I don't hold my breath for any specific praise or recognition.

If you can't adjust socially and find yourself withdrawing, I would talk to your manager about a potential shift in your workspace/coworkers, etc. Withdrawing is a downward spiral.

I sincerely wish you peace and clarity-
deikel
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Re: I am not very good at my job

Post by deikel »

couple of thoughts

it usually takes a year before a new hire becomes fully effective, so no need to beat yourself up. Especially in a larger organization, it takes a while to see the non official ways how things work

you have not been fired after 6 months, so you can not be that bad

If the work feels overwhelming to the degree of you not even starting to work on it, go to your supervisor and tell them you have trouble prioritizing. Give them a list of all the things you have on your plate right now (in an ordered structure) and let THEM give you a priority list of these projects - then work on them in that order only (Managers like to have control of whats going on and you want to do work that gets attention/appreciation, so win-win)

Realize that if you are still the newbie, they might give you all kinds of work that is on the list of nice to have whenever someone has the time to do it - you might not see yet what is really important and what is not, so see above and ask

If you have your priorities, try to break them down in as little pieces as you can and work on them as little projects along the way - that way you show structure and focus and you have little successes along the way that may help.

Don't isolate yourself, start asking your peers questions when you run into issues or just tell them you need an ear to bounce of some ideas and listen to their answers - people like being asked questions and helping - keep it brief and focused on one question. Distribute over multiple folks and you start learning a little every day
Everything you read in this post is my personal opinion. If you disagree with this disclaimer, please un-read the text immediately and destroy any copy or remembrance of it.
Reamus294
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Re: I am not very good at my job

Post by Reamus294 »

Just know you aren't alone. There are a lot of good suggestions here and some I will be using. Using your manager to tell you what they think you are doing right or what you could improve on is a good thing. That way you aren't assuming you are doing it the wrong way.

I switched positions awhile back and can feel myself spiraling down sometimes due to feelings of inadequacy. For me, I think it is more about pushing myself into uncomfortable learning situations. I knew a lot in my previous position so I was able to remain in comfortable learning situations. I tend to hesitate, allowing myself to get distracted (by knowledgeable forums) so I don't have to be uncomfortable.

If you feel like you are in your dream job, you are way ahead of the game. Don't give up on it or yourself.
PVW
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Re: I am not very good at my job

Post by PVW »

afoolwithmoney wrote: Fri Jan 24, 2020 2:15 am And yet I just don’t feel like I’m doing well, at all.
Truly bad employees don't know or don't care that they are doing poorly. Self-awareness of your abilities and contributions means you are doing just fine, even if your current performance needs improvement. Improvement only requires changing your process or learning something new. Motivation is the most important quality in a good employee.
quantAndHold
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Re: I am not very good at my job

Post by quantAndHold »

I spent a number of years at a FAANG, feeling pretty much the same. Imposter syndrome is real, but my experience was also that about 80% of the people at a place like that are better than the top 10% at the place you worked at before. That’s why they get the big bucks and the people at your last place didn’t. Mrspock said pretty much said what I would say. You may have some skill deficits you need to work on, but they wouldn’t have hired you if you didn’t have something going for you. I would emphasize getting a mentor. Having someone who can help work through what needs to improve is super valuable.
Yes, I’m really that pedantic.
muffins14
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Re: I am not very good at my job

Post by muffins14 »

1. You were hired, so several people at the company believe in your potential to make an impact.

2. Your colleagues appear very smart because, in part, they are, but also because they've been working in their domain longer than you have. Once you've been leading a project for a while, you'll be the expert in your area and appear like a genius too ;)

3. You don't see behind the scenes -- many other people at work are going through the same feelings, and being good at their job isn't effortless for them either. They probably spend plenty of not-at-work time reading, studying, and building new skills, just like you need to do.

4. When in doubt, present more often. Sharing your work at team meetings or 1:1s will help you get unstuck, because people will be able to help you narrow your focus to what is most impactful/actionable, and then they won't be wondering "what is X working on?"

5. Present even more often

6. Realize you have massive resources and take advantage of them. Likely you have data engineers, visualization engineers, other data scientists, and an ecosystem that can help you get work done. Don't feel like you are supposed to do everything by yourself, because, in reality, you're not, and you'll make a bigger impact by knowing which pieces you should ask someone else to help with.

7. Say no way more often, as others have said above.

8. Feel free to reach out via PM. I have a similar role at a similar company, and your feelings are entirely normal. I'd be happy to chat more if it would be helpful
muffins14
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Re: I am not very good at my job

Post by muffins14 »

Cycle wrote: Fri Jan 24, 2020 8:57 am Consider reading Deep Work by Cal Newport, or the cliff notes
This is also great advice, and it's a quick read
KyleAAA
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Re: I am not very good at my job

Post by KyleAAA »

What does your manager say? Do they think you are good at your job?
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3CT_Paddler
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Re: I am not very good at my job

Post by 3CT_Paddler »

afoolwithmoney wrote: Fri Jan 24, 2020 2:15 am I’m having difficulties finishing tasks, taking way long to finish things than my teammates. I’ve been getting overwhelmed with my to do list and it causes me to be unfocused and even lazy throughout the day. Feels like some days I get one good hour out of 8, or less. And I’ve been pulling back socially, having lunch on my own most of the time.
A big part of it is feeling intimidated by all the geniuses that work here. I don’t know if I can catch up with their knowledge at my current slow rate. Just feels impossible so I find myself not trying very hard, or not for very long.
There are always some geniuses that seem to catch on to everything quickly... do you know how much time they probably spent prior to their current job to get where they are skills wise?

Anybody smart enough to get a FAANG job should know that effort is 90% of the equation to learning and improving skills - particularly math and programming, and you are telling us that you are not doing the one thing you have control over and that will most likely determine your success or failure at this job over the next 5 years? If you do not understand and believe that your own effort is more important than your innate intelligence then you don't have a chance.

How often are you spending evenings or weekends trying to catch up? Do you want to be successful at this career path and do you enjoy the work?
Monsterflockster
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Re: I am not very good at my job

Post by Monsterflockster »

afoolwithmoney wrote: Fri Jan 24, 2020 2:15 am I’ve been working at a major tech company for almost a year now. Never worked at a place this big before. I’m doing research work. The work is really interesting and challenging - it truly is a dream job. And yet I just don’t feel like I’m doing well, at all.

I’m having difficulties finishing tasks, taking way long to finish things than my teammates. I’ve been getting overwhelmed with my to do list and it causes me to be unfocused and even lazy throughout the day. Feels like some days I get one good hour out of 8, or less. And I’ve been pulling back socially, having lunch on my own most of the time.

A big part of it is feeling intimidated by all the geniuses that work here. I don’t know if I can catch up with their knowledge at my current slow rate. Just feels impossible so I find myself not trying very hard, or not for very long.

Any advice on how to get through this before my manager figures me out and gives me the boot?
You’d be surprised how much genius you can make up for by being sociable. Don’t pull back… Have a growth mindset, learn and have fun with your coworkers. It will go a long way!
ThreeFundPlay
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Re: I am not very good at my job

Post by ThreeFundPlay »

afoolwithmoney wrote: Fri Jan 24, 2020 2:15 am I’ve been working at a major tech company for almost a year now. Never worked at a place this big before. I’m doing research work. The work is really interesting and challenging - it truly is a dream job. And yet I just don’t feel like I’m doing well, at all.

I’m having difficulties finishing tasks, taking way long to finish things than my teammates. I’ve been getting overwhelmed with my to do list and it causes me to be unfocused and even lazy throughout the day. Feels like some days I get one good hour out of 8, or less. And I’ve been pulling back socially, having lunch on my own most of the time.

A big part of it is feeling intimidated by all the geniuses that work here. I don’t know if I can catch up with their knowledge at my current slow rate. Just feels impossible so I find myself not trying very hard, or not for very long.

Any advice on how to get through this before my manager figures me out and gives me the boot?
I think regardless of your actual performance right now, mentally it seems you already feel defeated and overwhelmed. You were hired for this job because someone thought you were a good fit and would succeed, and, in general, everyone wants to see you succeed.

I would start with a very honest, non-biased assessment of your strengths and weaknesses. Be tough, but fair with yourself. Then, meet with your manager and ask the same question (I doubt you can hide this or avoid your manager). If your manager has more positives than you do and more positives than negatives, you’re being too hard on yourself. If you both have more negatives than you would like or more major negatives, develop a plan to address them and set up a time to follow-up on progress.

I think you’ll find more job satisfaction and support if you engage more with your coworkers. It doesn’t have to be long lunches every day or happy hour a few times a week but enough that you can share work anxieties and frustrations and have more support at work for when it gets tough.

Best of luck! Let us knows how it goes.
Last edited by ThreeFundPlay on Fri Jan 24, 2020 11:33 am, edited 1 time in total.
Jags4186
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Re: I am not very good at my job

Post by Jags4186 »

In general I think you need to be incredibly bad to get let go these days. The cost to replace someone is astronomical and most people are job hopping every 2-3 years. It can make financial sense to retain below average employees.

I am not saying you’re below average by any means, I’m just giving you some perspective.
FI4LIFE
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Re: I am not very good at my job

Post by FI4LIFE »

Your coworkers are probably faking it too.
shess
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Re: I am not very good at my job

Post by shess »

PVW wrote: Fri Jan 24, 2020 10:11 am
afoolwithmoney wrote: Fri Jan 24, 2020 2:15 am And yet I just don’t feel like I’m doing well, at all.
Truly bad employees don't know or don't care that they are doing poorly. Self-awareness of your abilities and contributions means you are doing just fine, even if your current performance needs improvement. Improvement only requires changing your process or learning something new. Motivation is the most important quality in a good employee.
OMG, so much this. The two examples which torqued me are the terrible employee who just didn't care about the damage they were causing, and the ones who were decent people but who did bad work and couldn't understand it no longer how long you sat with them. OP post doesn't read like either of those cases, which means that if I were a co-worker or manager or mentor, I would be 100% willing to extend myself to work with them to help bring them back into the fold.
Alaric
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Re: I am not very good at my job

Post by Alaric »

As other have noted, if you are truly underperforming at your job your manager already knows that, so don't focus on trying to fix things before that occurs. Bring it up yourself. Don't wait to be called out. Ask your manager if you can have a little time to talk about your role in the organization and then let them know where you are coming from. You've been trying, you want to develop, but you feel uncertain of how to make it happen and would welcome more guidance.

One other thing: often physical fatigue and lack of physical activity contribute to mental lethargy and blockage. I have no idea what your physical fitness and activity are like, but it can be helpful to adopt some exercise and/or manual activity regimen outside your work hours. Even if it's late at night or early in the morning. You won't feel like doing it before you do it, but you be glad to have done it afterward. It has been long established that physical activity stimulates the mind, particularly its creative aspects.
shess
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Re: I am not very good at my job

Post by shess »

Alaric wrote: Fri Jan 24, 2020 12:24 pm One other thing: often physical fatigue and lack of physical activity contribute to mental lethargy and blockage. I have no idea what your physical fitness and activity are like, but it can be helpful to adopt some exercise and/or manual activity regimen outside your work hours. Even if it's late at night or early in the morning. You won't feel like doing it before you do it, but you be glad to have done it afterward. It has been long established that physical activity stimulates the mind, particularly its creative aspects.
This is very true. IMHO it's even more true if you're reaching your early to mid 30s, or if you're starting a family. When you're in your 20's, you can just power through a lot of this day after day, and as long as it doesn't go for too many weeks you hardly notice. Somewhere around 32 or 35 is where you'll start to see signs that your physical fitness doesn't take care of itself, and it can be a real surprise if you aren't an innately athletic type.

Personally, I got a lot of value from using endurance exercise (cycling, in my case) as a way to block out time and distract myself from negative work patterns. Any activity has diminishing returns, so your tenth hour of the day is nowhere near as useful as your first hour. I found that if I switched a couple hours a day from those useless trailing efforts into cycling, it cleared my mind and helped me focus, so I got more done at work in fewer hours AND I was getting physically fit. Real win-win, if you can maintain it. Also, sometimes worrying about a non-work thing made it easier to prioritize work things, just as it's sometimes easier to prioritize someone else's life than it is to prioritize your own.
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mmmodem
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Re: I am not very good at my job

Post by mmmodem »

I'm just piling on the anecdotes from the rest. I worked in constant fear for maybe 5 years that one day the company will find out I'm incompetent and fire. I don't really know why I kept feeling this way despite getting rave reviews and excellent raises. The work was extremely difficult and I couldn't understand half the things my colleagues said. I spend most meetings jotting down words to look up in the dictionary later.

What got me through all this was the mentor assigned to to train me. She kept saying I can do it. She was full of encouragement. And apparently I can do it. I'm nowhere near the best but I'm good enough to receive promotions and bonuses.

Over a decade later, I still spend a big portion of my time in meetings writing down words I don't understand. Apparently, I chose a difficult career and this is par for the course.
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warner25
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Re: I am not very good at my job

Post by warner25 »

steve roy wrote: Fri Jan 24, 2020 4:24 am I once taught eighth grade history at a California junior high school (way back when they were still called "junior high schools".)... I thought I was awful at it... you might be too close to your performance to assess it correctly.
Good story. My wife had a similar experience as a first-year public high school teacher. She gave up teaching after three semesters, and she's still convinced that she had poor classroom management skills, but other teachers explicitly told her that she had the worst roster of students. I suspect that the teachers with seniority, who already knew some of the students, arranged it that way for their own sake.

I suspect that it's not uncommon to do this with new hires: give them work that nobody else wants, or that others have already failed to do. I'm a few months into a new position, feeling like I'm struggling often, but my boss has said that he didn't assign this work to my predecessor because he knew the guy (along with other folks still in the office) wasn't up to the task.
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Sheepdog
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Re: I am not very good at my job

Post by Sheepdog »

Alaric wrote: Fri Jan 24, 2020 12:24 pm One other thing: often physical fatigue and lack of physical activity contribute to mental lethargy and blockage. I have no idea what your physical fitness and activity are like, but it can be helpful to adopt some exercise and/or manual activity regimen outside your work hours. Even if it's late at night or early in the morning. You won't feel like doing it before you do it, but you be glad to have done it afterward. It has been long established that physical activity stimulates the mind, particularly its creative aspects.
Yes...This is excellent advice.
Time is the school in which we learn, time is the fire in which we burn.~ Delmore Schwartz
gold99xx
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Re: I am not very good at my job

Post by gold99xx »

How did you get this job? And are they hiring?
knightrider
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Re: I am not very good at my job

Post by knightrider »

In tech it is very easy to feel out of touch if people around are fluent in all the latest technologies and you are not. The fix is to find some mentor who can coach you in some of this latest tech.. Alot of it can be picked up rather easily if you have someone to show you the ropes. Even consider asking for mentor through your personal network or even freelancing sites..
Seasonal
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Re: I am not very good at my job

Post by Seasonal »

In addition to the imposter syndrome, consider the Dunning-Kruger effect. One aspect is the highly competent believe they're doing poorly. They miscalibrate their own ability: "the miscalibration of the highly competent stems from an error about others".

I'll add another anecdote. At the start of my career, I worked on a project with a rather senior colleague. He'd check my work and always find flaws. I obviously felt bad about this. One day he prepared something and I checked his work. I was shocked to find flaws. I realized the issue was that there were often problems with the type of work product we were producing and the last to check would find some, rather than the sole issue being my incompetence (although he was much better than me at what we were doing and he found a lot more issues than I did).
Billionaire
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Re: I am not very good at my job

Post by Billionaire »

My wife was a teacher for close to 30 years. Every year it seems one teacher was saddled with the majority of the behavior problems. Can't really say there was ever any logic applied to which teach got the honors.

I worked in IT for 28 years. There are plenty of charlatans floating around in the industry. There were occasions where I spent a lot of time trouble shooting a problem and it ended up being a simple fix, but sometimes the debugging takes forever(was painful) for a variety of reasons. I also made sure I was communicating with my supervisor about any obstacles in the way that may be delaying the fix. Apply same concept to new development.
the way
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Re: I am not very good at my job

Post by the way »

Check out The Dilbert Principle.
Shael_AT
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Re: I am not very good at my job

Post by Shael_AT »

Hey, I’m one of the people who’s senior and working in this giant tech behemoths for the last 6 years.

We all feel the same. You are hired and kept for a reason. As you gain more experience your outputs will improve and your confidence will grow.

Fake it until you make it. We’re all just people. No one is necessarily more intelligent or capable than you, but they may know more than you.

Knowledge is something we can all obtain. How we leverage and utilize it turns into experience. Enough experience gives you wisdom. You got this, keep up the great work. Find mentors and learn everything you can.
venkman
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Re: I am not very good at my job

Post by venkman »

My first real job out of college was a position that required frequent interaction with people and a lot of self-starting. I struggled in that job for two years; toward the end, I would just come into work and stare at the computer and do basically nothing all day. I thought there was something wrong with me, and I eventually quit.

Many years later, I realize that I'm very much an introvert, and interacting with people all day just sucks the life right out of me. At the time, I got down on myself because I thought I was just being lazy. But the truth is that I was a terrible fit with that job. Tasks that were simple for other people (e.g. calling someone on the phone) were things I dreaded, because they drained all my energy.

My point is that it might be worthwhile to really delve into your personality, and what makes you tick, and see if there are any underlying conflicts between your personality and your job. It's something I wish I would've done a long time ago.
OldSport
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Re: I am not very good at my job

Post by OldSport »

afoolwithmoney wrote: Fri Jan 24, 2020 2:15 am I’ve been working at a major tech company for almost a year now. Never worked at a place this big before. I’m doing research work. The work is really interesting and challenging - it truly is a dream job. And yet I just don’t feel like I’m doing well, at all.

I’m having difficulties finishing tasks, taking way long to finish things than my teammates. I’ve been getting overwhelmed with my to do list and it causes me to be unfocused and even lazy throughout the day. Feels like some days I get one good hour out of 8, or less. And I’ve been pulling back socially, having lunch on my own most of the time.

A big part of it is feeling intimidated by all the geniuses that work here. I don’t know if I can catch up with their knowledge at my current slow rate. Just feels impossible so I find myself not trying very hard, or not for very long.

Any advice on how to get through this before my manager figures me out and gives me the boot?
Look up Growth Mindset and Deliberate Practice. Watch the You Tube videos and Ted Talks. It really works. It takes time, but it really works. Also seek out a trusted mentor.
KlangFool
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Re: I am not very good at my job

Post by KlangFool »

OP,

You are hired for what you can do for the employer. You are not hired for what you cannot do for the employer. Please think about this for a moment.

You may not be able to do X and Y. Unless you lied about this, you were hired to do Z. Hence, as long as you do Z, it is good enough for the employer. There might be a lot of people that can do X and Y. They need someone to do Z and that was why you were hired.

It is hard to start a new job. You were competent and well established in your previous job. Now, it is time to find your niche in the new job. How can you help? What can you contribute?

Focus on what you "Can do" versus what you "Cannot Do".

I had worked too many jobs across too many industries and many countries. It is not easy to transition. But, you are not totally helpless. You just have to do you.

In my case, I am a system person. I was a software engineer, Unix system administrator, network engineer, sales manager, product manager, and test engineer. I am not the best person in any single area. But, I have the breadth of experience and exposure across too many areas. For my lack of depth, I am overly-compensated with breadth. I am a good integrator, a troubleshooter, and an architect. My niche is to solve unknown and undefined problems. When individual experts cannot isolate and solve the problem, they called me in.

I am not the best person to solve any known problem. I am the best person to solve the unknown and undefined problems.

What is your niche for this employer? They hired you for what you "can do" for them. So, please do that while expanding your knowledge and capability to do more stuff.

KlangFool
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timboktoo
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Re: I am not very good at my job

Post by timboktoo »

I think that you're going to have to figure out what the truth is. I recommend that you spend a day alone reflecting on what's going on inside of you. Identify each feeling you're experiencing and be honest about where it is coming from. Go deeper than you normally do.

Sometimes, when a life problem of mine seems unsolvable, it circles 'round in my mind for months on end. It's even there when I wake in the middle of the night. When that happens, I find it's because I'm not going deep enough with the question why? I'm not being honest with myself. You can usually ask the why? question several times before you get to the root of what's really going on.

For example:

1. I feel like I'm not very good at my job.
2. Why?
3. Because I struggle to understand what I'm doing. Other people seem to be much better at it than I am.
4. Why do you struggle?
5. Because I am distracted while I'm working. I can't focus on the work.
6. Why are you distracted?
7. Because I honestly don't enjoy it. Research sounds like it would be great and I feel like it should be my dream job, but I guess it really isn't.
8. Then why are you doing it?
9. Because I'm not sure what to do. I don't know what I want.
10. Why?
...

It takes courage to do a full and honest assessment of yourself. But it should help you to determine to what degree your feelings are based on reality. Once you're sure about things, make a decision about where you want to go (your target) and create an action plan to get there.

I wish you the best.

- Tim
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Gray
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Re: I am not very good at my job

Post by Gray »

Here goes my “long, advice-ridden” post (see next one for context).

Ask for training. Ask to shadow someone who does it better. It may be that your organization doesn’t know that you are struggling, not challenged, or mismatched with your work from a passion perspective. Gently let them know. If you are truly bored and broken by your work, ask to change, or go elsewhere, but make sure the problem is the job and not you. Depression, for example, can generate many of the symptoms you describe.

Is your work team-based, or isolated. If isolated, ask to work on a team, but make sure the team culture is supportive.

I’ve acquired so many skills in my career, but there are things I just don’t care to do even if I can do them well. I suppose I keep moving forward, do what I’m asked, don’t stir up trouble, interact positively, show loyalty, and get results.

I just finished a 1.5 year project that I felt was as exciting as pushing a turdball uphill. The inter-office politics and self-defeating bureaucracy gave me no end of headaches, but I got results, networked, and my bosses think I did a great job given the circumstances. (I was also going through biweekly physical therapy from a broken shoulder, completing my Master’s degree, and helping my daughter with her college applications). My bosses saw what I had to deal with. They saw that I wasn’t deterred, and I kept moving forward with professionalism.

Helping others is also a way to network and build goodwill. Your boss is your second best advocate (after you) so it’s important to maintain regular communications. Even if I feel my boss doesn’t get it, sometimes you nod and wish them well (and try again later). Upper management has a ton of crap to deal with, so just being a “tryer” that isn’t a complainer can be a plus.

The bottom line is that you’re going to have to work hard, and show others that you are reliable, learning, and improving. Otherwise, you’re going to stagnate and/or get fired. Careers are comprised of many jobs, some good, some suck, but the key is to leverage each one to acquire skills, fine tune your goals, network, and move to the next stepping stone or ladder rung.
Last edited by Gray on Sat Jan 25, 2020 1:16 am, edited 9 times in total.
bogglizer
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Re: I am not very good at my job

Post by bogglizer »

This topic generates long, advice-ridden posts. You probably don't need more.

I was in your position when I started my current job. Then I reached my number for FI. Now I don't care. Lay me off, don't lay me off, whatever. I am just going to have fun.
JPM
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Re: I am not very good at my job

Post by JPM »

Sometimes people who are distracted and unfocused have adult ADD. People who are highly intelligent can often get thru school and lower level professional work by dint of intellect but at higher levels when focus and perseverance are needed for achievement ADD gets in the way. ADD people often have employment difficulties due to distractibility. Takes too long to get tasks accomplished due to distractions and difficulty focusing.
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