update: I suck at my job but am otherwise a delightful person

Remember the reader who realized she wasn’t very good at her job but knew her employer really liked her and was hoping there might be a way to make things work (first update here)? Here’s the update.

So my original letter was about how I’m a complete delight and everyone at my job loves me, but I really was bad at my job. My update indicated I’d found a new job I was really excited about and I’d been there about 3 weeks when I wrote in. Since then, lots has changed. Turns out…..I wasn’t well suited to the job I was hired for. I found the work interesting in a lot of ways, but despite a long training process, things just weren’t clicking the way they needed to. Probation of that job is a year, and I just was NOT getting it, despite my lead worker and supervisor being really supportive and helpful. My brain is just not wired that way! The people I worked with really liked me and worked really, really hard to help me succeed, and they even extended my probation, so I had until mid-December 2019 to improve enough to meet the metrics I needed to in order to keep the job. I was pretty discouraged, honestly, and had already been applying for other jobs, and even got pretty far in the process with two separate jobs – neither were exactly what I wanted, but I was pretty sure I could be successful at either of them, so I could have gone either way.

But then! A position in the Support area of my organization opened up, and that’s MUCH more my style – if I had a motto, it would be “I like to help!” – so I applied. And I got the job! And it is a MUCH better fit for me. I started that early last December, and because it was a new position to me, I had to start probation all over. Probation was another year, but I have passed probation and as of today, I’m a full-fledged employee who is NOT on probation, so hooray! My government agency is one that has actually seen an enormously increased workload during the pandemic, so my year of probation has been a little crazy, but I felt I had a pretty good handle on things by March, when things got crazy, and I’m so thankful for that! Most everyone in the office left to work from home – and there are currently only 6 people working in an office space meant for about 70. Luckily for me, one of those people is another Support worker with TONS of experience, and it’s been so nice to have her here in person for questions and even just to talk through things I maybe didn’t fully understand. This other Support person had actually transferred to our location only a few weeks before COVID, so I didn’t know her well AT ALL when everyone else left, and I wasn’t sure how that would go, but it’s honestly worked out – she is fantastic!

I know I’m incredibly lucky/blessed/fortunate and not every story like mine turns out so well, and I’m trying to not take that for granted, and to pay it forward with encouragement and support (ha!) where I can.

{ 35 comments… read them below }

  1. Momma Bear*

    Great update! I’m glad you found a position that was a better fit and didn’t have to leave the company.

    1. Diahann Carroll*

      I was going to say the same thing. It’s always nice when you can pivot within instead of having to jump ship completely.

    2. allathian*

      Yes, this is great. Maybe it’s because she works for a government agency? A one-year probation sounds long and wouldn’t be necessary in the private sector, at least in the US, where it’s usually much easier to fire people who turn out to be unsuitable for the job.

      Congrats on finding a job that’s a great fit for you!

      1. wittyrepartee*

        Yeah, it’s about the difficulty of firing people after they go off the probationary period. It’s an agreement they have with the unions. At least at my job, you also get a pay bump once you move out of the probationary period.

      2. Where’s the Orchestra?*

        I’m at a federal agency (but one of the very few that is non-union). We have a one year probation period so that you are fully evaluated, and fully know the job before you are off probation. Also, the formal process to get someone fired if necessary is much more involved after probation ends (there is still a multi step process during probation).

        We do get a pay raise at the end of that period as well (one full step in whatever grade you were hired on at).

  2. Brianna*

    I didn’t read the original posts, but I love these kinds of updates! Congrats on your new role.

  3. Dasein9*

    Good for you and congratulations! It’s really quite miserable to try to be something we’re not.

  4. I edit everything*

    I really just want to give this LW a hug and say, “I’m proud of you for figuring out where you belong!”

    1. Letter Writer*

      I accept your internet hug! Thank you! It was a sucky couple of years and really did a number on my self-esteem, despite me knowing I’m a delight, but I really feel like I’m finally kind of settled into something

  5. Kiki*

    I really love updates where someone finds a job or career that’s a better fit. I’m in the US and I feel like there is a strong and persistent cultural notion that if you are bad at a job, you are bad as a person and should just try harder. But that’s not really true! Sometimes jobs just aren’t a good fit– trying to squeeze a square into a circle just doesn’t work and both shapes are perfectly fine.

    1. Rhymetime*

      This is really well put. I’m in the same position as the letter writer and actively looking for a job because I just don’t feel I’m the right fit for the job I have now. Thank you, Letter Writer, for the update and encouragement for my own search!

      1. Letter Writer*

        You have my sympathy for your current situation, and my very best wishes as you search for a better fit! Something is out there for you! One of the things I struggled with during the initial move from the job that I sucked at to the new position that ALSO didn’t fit me, is that you really don’t know until you’re in the role if it’s going to fit you. You can kinda tell, but until you’re actually doing it day-to-day, you just don’t know. A job description and even asking questions at interviews can only give you part of the picture. I really started to doubt myself and my judgement. But on the other hand, sometimes you get into a role that fits better than you ever imagined, and that is what I’m hoping for you!

    2. Where’s the Orchestra?*

      I’ve been there as well. Not everybody will guilt trip you or think you are bad if you just fail to make a job work, but some people definitely will.

      If you’re not the right fit you’re not a bad person, just somebody who needs a different job. That’s what I was – and I love my current job.

    3. Forrest*

      I REALLY love this OP, and their ability to distinguish “I am bad at this / this way of working does not suit me” and “I am an otherwise delightful person who has many strengths and will succeed in another area”. I would like to bottle this and share it with everyone else who needs it.

      1. Letter Writer*

        It helped that I had had success in previous positions, AND that my managers/supervisors were so wonderful. Without those things, I think things would have been a lot worse for me. I can’t tell you how grateful I am for those manager/supervisors/coworkers who were so encouraging! I can be pretty hard on myself, so honestly, it’s due to them that I didn’t lose my sanity or self-esteem. As it was, I beat myself up pretty badly during this process, but I also learned a lot about myself, and I hope that I’m more supportive and encouraging to others who struggle with jobs that aren’t “hard” – it just means they aren’t suited for it, and that’s okay.

    4. DyneinWalking*

      One of the best decisions of my life was to drop out of a university program that I’d almost completed, and instead enrolling in a completely different program at a different university.

      I just wasn’t cut out for the field I originally studied. Towards the end of it, I was deeply depressed, cried regularly, and just generally felt extremely incompetent and worthless; I doubted that changing fields would make any difference and felt very uneasy about dropping out.

      Once I made the decision, though, I felt incredibly liberated. It’s not that the new field is easier or less stressful (in fact, most people would consider it much harder, at least intellectually), but the struggling and stress feel completely different. It used to be struggling and worrying and then sorta making it with a bad feeling – now it’s struggling and worrying and then succeeding.

      I could have become shy and insecure employee who’s trying hard but remains somewhat incompetent; instead I am now a new PhD student in a field I’m extremely passionate about, steadily gaining in confidence as I settle into my new role and keep getting positive feedback from my professor.
      It’s better for myself, but I swear that it’s also better for the world at large. What use are incompetent professionals? They do a bad job, and if they are halfway self-observant, they also have mental health issues on top as a result of the constant experience of failure.

      I can contribute so much more to the world as someone who’s competent at their job.

      1. wittyrepartee*

        I changed from a PhD program in bench science that I was extremely ill suited to, to a MPH in epidemiology. Best decision of my life. My doctor noticed that my blood pressure dropped a lot after I made the switch.

    5. Jess*

      I loved this aspect too- proof that success or failure in one role doesn’t define your professional prospects. Congrats LW, fantastic update!

  6. mf*

    Congrats, LW! This is a great idea of how a great employee with a great boss can still be a bad fit in the wrong job, even if everyone involved is doing their best.

  7. RebelwithMouseyHair*

    I can relate a lot to this, because I was initially hired to be the sales department secretary early on in my career. This would be perfect for my star sign. Except that star signs are obviously not a good indication of character! I did it as best I possibly could, but the fact was that I couldn’t put my heart into sales when I could see the Production department couldn’t possibly keep up with orders. I was lucky in that one of the sales staff saw that my potential, and told the boss to move me to Production, where I out-produced everyone and even produced some new stuff on the side, without the boss’s blessing, that ended up generating a fair amount of turnover.

  8. Bob*

    I’m a bit surprised it took several tries to find the right position but i am very happy for you that you have.
    And you have learned more about yourself and what jobs you don’t want to apply for in the future.

    Sometimes we can come to think we are just misfits and that we can’t ever fit in, but its often about finding who we are and figuring out where we do fit in.

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