Is my job in peril? Should I be searching for another one? Why do I suck so much? These questions and so many more, answered after the jump!
Hi, I'm this
person, working as academic support staff. The suggestions you fine folks gave me were extremely helpful, and I successfully reduced stupid, careless errors on my part to near-zero. Now the problems I have at work are more on the order of mistaken priorities, not being able to divine what someone wanted on a task, asking too many questions, asking not enough questions, etc. It really feels sometimes like whatever choice I make is the wrong one, and I lack the common sense to figure out what to do.
Anyway, I thought I was doing a mostly pretty good job, with some minor kinks and growing pains-- I've been working for about seven weeks-- but today I was called into a small review meeting with my managers where I was told that I could be performing much more satisfactorily. I really, really don't know what to make of this meeting. Ostensibly it was also about how they could help me succeed, etc etc., but I got a strong sense of "you'd better figure out if you can step up your performance. Fast." I think they were trying to be nice, but the main gist seemed to be that so far I was really not performing up to par. Phrases like 'fit' and 'what this job entails' were thrown around a lot... Were they trying to give me a discreet heads-up to start looking for a new one?
In some ways, this job is a bad fit. Though I like my co-workers, the work that I support, and feel happy when things are totally under control, I mostly spend all day completely stressed out, worried that I'm doing something wrong or that I'm mis-managing someone's something. I spend so much time trying to read my manager's minds and deal with their huge (friendly, kind, and likable but also extremely picky, moody, and sometimes childish) personalities. I feel like I over-estimated my ability to be organized, which is basically my entire job, and that my real skills are in interacting with people, communication, writing, research, etc. In fact, now that I write it out, the idea that I should have been hired somewhere to organize other people is laughably stupid.
Should I be looking for a job? Who the heck is going to hire someone whose last two jobs were each three months long? On the other hand, my employer has a huge amount of cachet, and it seems like it would be much better to be That Guy Trying To Come To Us From Awesome Employer After Working Only Three Months than That Guy Trying To Come To Us After Getting Fired By Awesome Employer In Only Three Months.
Sorry for the verbal diarrhea; I feel so stunned by all this. I know in theory I should be able to just step it up and meet my managers' expectations, but that feels like such an impossible goal. I am working at a true 100% right now and I really don't see a way to get better. It's like I'm challenged and everyone else is normal; like there are these things that everyone else has figured out to be a successful worker and I just can't. What kind of idiot fails at an administrative job? It's weird that I can't pick up on these cues at all because I'm very outgoing and people-oriented. This seeming no-confidence vote from my managers feels really final; how can I ever feel as though my job isn't on the line now? I felt so proud and happy to be hired to this job after a very grueling and competitive hiring process, and now it's like, woops, sorry, turns out I suck!
I guess my real questions are:
1) am I totally over-reacting? Or am I actually circling the drain and should be looking for a next move immediately?
2) if I should be job-hunting, how should I be conducting it in a way that complements my situation?
3) is it possible that my managers have unrealistic expectations? Or am I necessarily being defensive and excusey?
Thanks for your time, and sorry to get all therapy on you. Having the talk about this in real life released a lot of the stress I've been feeling about this job into the open of my brain.