Incompetent At My Job

Question to Ask the Workplace Doctors about feeling incompetentg in new job:

I’ve been at this job now for 4 months and feel like the situation has not improved. But it’s got to the point that even when I’m not at work I feel constantly sick at the thought of work. I hate being so incompetent at my job and feel it’s not fair on my colleagues that have to carry me. I keep making silly mistakes and always get told off. The problem is: I do not notice these mistakes until it’s too late. I can deal with problems that I know about, but if I do a piece of work and think it’s OK and it subsequently gets shot down, I lose a lot of confidence. I have brought work home with me to work on it before I go in, but am sitting here feeling hysterical. I just can’t do it! Should I give it a few more months and accept that if I can’t do the job and it was the wrong career move for me, or resign?

Signed, Sick At The Thought Of Work

Dear Sick At The Thought Of Work:

There is no way from here that I can know enough about you and your performance to advise what you should do. Why? Because I don’t know the difficulty of the job or if you have been given sufficient training. What I know from your brief description is that you feel incompetent and miserable and that you need to do more than suck in your guts and keep trying. You need to talk with your boss and coworkers to assess · Your skill level, · What are the mistakes you are making, · What might be done to prevent them, and/or · If it would be good if you should resign.

From you state of distress, it is obvious that you need to request an early appraisal of your work. Job evaluation is the job of a boss and she/he might enlist your coworkers in that if you so request. You say your coworkers must “carry you” and that when you make silly mistakes you are “told off.” Therefore it is time to learn from your boss and coworkers if they think you are doing as well as can be expected with four month of learning the job and if they think you can ever learn it.Learning some jobs is like learning one kind of dance. Learning others is like learning many different kinds of dances. But even learning one kind of dance without making a few silly mistakes for me takes more than four months.You notice that I’ve used the word “learning” more than once.

Your career path and this current distress over feeling incompetent are best seen as a process of learning where you fit. If you can see it that way, you will not be so frustrated. You also are learning if your current workplace is employee supportive. Did it give you enough training and if not is it willing to retrain you? Is your boss a coach and is your work group a team? And there is the bigger question: Is your work organization needed and making more than money; one that is doing well and also is doing good?

In short, can you see your current distress as a learning opportunity? Apparently you wrote the workplace doctors at a time you were deeply upset, so upset that you wondered if the job you are in “was the wrong career move.” At this moment an answer to that hinges on what you learn from your boss and coworkers, but it also depends on your career preparation and what are your interests. Finally, although I can’t provide a quick-fix answer you question, I can advise that you don’t play and replay the silly mistakes and telling and retelling your self how incompetent you are. Doing that, as you question to us indicates, is causing a state of anxiety. It is time for you to talk with your boss and possibly with your Human Resources. The fact that you have been there four months means they so far see you as doing something right or you would have already been fired. Now it’s time to assess your future. You are not working solo. You are part of a work group and a larger operation. Working together with hands, head, and heart takes and makes big WEGOS. Feeling a part of something big does not just happen.

William Gorden