Told I “Wasn’t Working Out” In New Assignment At Work. Now What?

Question to Ask the Workplace Doctors about going back to a former assignment
when a new one didn’t work out.



I was a warehouse associate at a company for a year, then I was promoted to working in the field. After three weeks in the field I was told “it wasn’t working out”. What can I do now? I’m not sure why it wasn’t working out and no one really told me. My old job is still available, is it automatically mine to resume?


Hello and thank you for sharing your workplace concern with us. The only way to find out whether or not you can go back to your old job is to immediately ask your supervisor, manager or Human Resources section. You were apparently doing well enough in it that you were promoted to something else, so they may be very happy to have you fill the position again so they don’t have to train someone else. I’m certainly hoping that is the case.

I assume you were only recently told that your new assignment wasn’t working out. If so, you obviously have to know where you are supposed to report for work next, or IF you are supposed to report for work. So, find out right away.

A statement about a job or assignment not working out often can be translated to say, “We thought you’d be OK in this new job, but we can see now that you’re not what we need,  because………” What follows that statement could be one of several things:

*Maybe you had trouble learning the procedures and methods in your new job. This could be because you weren’t taught them very well or it could be that the new procedures and methods are more complex than you’re accustomed to dealing with at work, so you had problems learning them.

*Maybe you and the people you worked with didn’t mesh very well because of different personalities or styles.

*Maybe there was something else, either personally or related to work, that your supervisor thought was a problem. He should have told you so you could correct it or explain your situation to him. However, few people like to have unpleasant conversations and your supervisor or manager avoided a long interview where you could talk about it, by only giving you a brief reason.

I have often said that work is like a romantic relationship in that it usually starts with great expectations and often ends either angrily or very unhappily or by saying, “He was a nice guy, it just didn’t work out.” That probably is what happened here.  None of this may be anything that is a fault of yours or a failure of yours. The job and you just weren’t a good fit right now. Maybe one day it will be and you will have another chance at it. At least now you have had an introduction to what it involves and can build on that.

Put your focus on ensuring you can go back to the work you were doing in the warehouse. At the same time, show you are a strong and confident person by being positive overall, in spite of what I know is a big disappointment. On the other hand, if you were doing well in the warehouse and not as well in the field, it might also take a lot of pressure off, which would be a good thing.

I think it would be tremendously impressive of you, if you would write a note to your supervisor or manager and thank them for the experiences you had in the new position. You could say, “I’m sorry I wasn’t able to continue in the assignment, but I appreciate the chance to learn more about the company. I hope one of these days to have another opportunity to work in the field.”

Best wishes to you in this situation. If you have the time and wish to do so, let us know what happens.

Tina Rowe
Ask the Workplace Doctors

Tina Lewis Rowe

Tina had a thirty-three year career in law enforcement, serving with the Denver Police Department from 1969-1994 and was the Presidential United States Marshal for Colorado from 1994-2002. She provides training to law enforcement organizations and private sector groups and does conference presentations related to leadership, workplace communications and customized topics. Her style is inspirational with humor.