Hello everybody, welcome to episode 208 of Optimal Living Advice, the podcast where we take any questions you might have about the many struggles of life and get them answered for you here on the show. Today's question is from someone struggling with feeling incompetent at a new job.
I’m your host, certified life coach Greg Audino reminding you before we begin that if you have a question you would like help with on the show, we welcome you to email it to us at advice AT oldpodcast.com
Now everybody today we’re going to take a look at a question that’s come in from a woman who’s feeling a little shaky about her new job. While she’s had success in the past, she’s now in a brand new industry and isn’t so sure if that newness is going to show more than she’d like to. Will her team like her? Will they think she knows what she’s doing? Common concerns to have when entering a new field, especially if you’re someone who wants to contribute and do their best. Let’s see if we can assuage her fears a little bit. Here’s what she’s got to say…
QUESTION: “I’m scared that people from my team won’t like me. Same with clients. I’m scared of saying or doing the wrong thing. I’m new at my job and I’m new to the industry. I have managed clients before as I have worked on a team before, but I’m more scared now that I will sound like I don’t know what I’m doing. I think the feeling makes sense, and my lack of confidence and overthinking just adds to my worry. I’m just wondering if you have any input or perspective that might help me get through this.“
Feelings and Our Behavior at a New Job
Ok, great question! You’re right, the feeling makes sense. Any and all feelings make sense. But what’s always more important is the behavior that those feelings translate into.
I’m glad you sent this question in, and believe it or not, I’m quite sure your employer and coworkers would be happy to hear that you sent this in as well! That may sound off to you – your fear about them not liking you or not thinking your capable might lead you to believe that your goose would be cooked if they found out you were uncertain about how well you can perform this job.
But what I’m here to tell you today is that that isn’t the point, anyway.
Productivity and Expertise
Of course, productivity and expertise play a big role in the workplace; a bigger role there than in personal life since “time is money” (which is nonsense because time is certainly more valuable).
However, it doesn’t play such a big role that you can’t be a likable and contributive worker without it. This is especially true at the beginning, as you’re not necessarily expected to be a master right away in a new field. While it’s important to hone your skills over time, you’re not in jeopardy right now as long as you capitalize on the other things that will keep you in good standing with your team.
Think about what makes a good coworker in any industry, or even just a person that others enjoy teaming up with. People want someone they can relate to. People want someone who’s competent. People want someone who puts in effort.
And people want someone who does what they can to help others. These are all essential at work, and they can all be maxed out regardless of how well you’ve mastered your industry.
So in the spirit of this, let’s talk about what you can bring to your job now while you sharpen your skills and knowledge of a new field.
What is Relatable?
What’s relatable? Being honest about being new there is relatable. Everyone knows what it’s like to be new and vulnerable somewhere, and though it may feel taboo at work somehow, it’s relatable to be up front about all the learning you have to do.
This also gives you the opportunity to ask others for help, which is not only you being vulnerable, but puts your coworkers in a position to be significant and feel like they’re offering something as long as you’re not constantly breathing down their necks for help with every little thing.
Their patience with you will be plentiful if they see you being honest and putting in the effort to learn what you ask them to teach you.
There’s a lot of relatability in reminding them that just because you’re managing them doesn’t mean you can’t learn from them and improve yourself. There’s also a lot of effort that is shown by being so willing to learn – another thing I mentioned that people like. And effort can always be put forth.
Surely you’re already presumably putting effort in by learning as much as you can about your position as quickly as possible, but another great way of showing effort while you’re learning more about your role is to be certain that you’re not missing a beat on the tasks that you can do with confidence. If you can do it, be sure that you do it thoroughly.
Be Kind and Listen
Also find other small things that are maybe out of your jurisdiction but will take something off of someone else’s plate and make their life a little easier. This is where being that kindhearted, yet useful coworker kicks in. Be kind by doing things for them within reason, but also by listening to them.
Especially as a manager, it’ll be crucial to understand the concerns of others and hear where they’re coming from. This will not only help you get a better grasp of the business, what it entails, and how your company could be more competitive, but to really pay attention to how your coworkers think about the many facets of work is invaluable.
You want to know their needs and their desires. And they want someone who will listen to them, so they can be reminded that they are not just numbers.
They want to feel valued, and as people that have been selected to work in the positions they do, they should be valued. Doing this will help them perceive you as not only compassionate, but competent for (hopefully) seeing where they’re coming from and understanding their side of the story.
Feeling Incompetent at New Job: Conclusion
Look, these are all skills that you’ve already got in your back pocket. Don’t forget that. Managing and working with others is something you already know how to do.
Bring those skills to the table in this new job while you work your tail off to master the specific job skills required, and not only will your coworkers likely hold you in a higher regard, but you’ll have confidence in knowing that you did everything you could to be a good worker, even if you’re a noobie in this job.
And thanks so much to our asker today for reaching out and trusting us with this. Whether it’s at work or somewhere else, this question and episode serves as a great example for the many intangibles we can bring to any situation in which the skills it calls for might be lost on us.
You might not be the best player on your sports team, but you can outwork others, you can uplift others, you can help others, seek guidance from others, etc. There are a million different ways to contribute, and whether or not we are experts, we can and should always look to these other ways when it comes to times and places in which we want to perform the best we can.
So consider the other ways you can help and be effective if there are areas of your life in which you’re still learning or currently coming up a little bit shorter than you’d like to. You’ll be surprised at what a little brainstorming can do.
Time to wrap up though, everyone. Good luck with all of this and how it might apply to your own lives. I’m going to get out of here but I’ll be back here on Friday where we’ll help an asker out with her evening routine and what she can do to sleep better at night. See you all there.