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Massive lack of confidence at work

(15 Posts)
lizzieoak Sat 04-Mar-17 16:09:56

Blah, this is not getting any better.

My exh was a verbally abusive bully and after a longish marriage we split up and my first long-term job (12+ months) after the divorce I was bullied. Changed depts but so stressed I left that sector and went to work at a not for profit. Fine for the first two years, boss retired, new boss hired a load of very aggressive types, I was bullied for 2 years (while hunting constantly for new work). Got fired.

Miraculously I got a job doing one of my interests, at a much better rate of pay than if ever had. 18 months in they sprung a very long layoff on us. I was offered a contract elsewhere and my supervisor said she wanted me back if it didn't work out. I foolishly thought I had the best of both worlds - job I loved and was so proud of to go back to and money to tide me over till we were recalled.

Started the new job & very quickly found they'd lied about the hours (forced to work evenings which was stressful as I'm a single parent to a teenager) & then I got a repetitive strain injury. I asked my former supervisor at beloved job if I could come back as soon as needed and she said "we've decided to look for a different skill set".

I've now left the contract job and am working on a contract w the government. My new supervisor had a mtg w me the other day where she said I wasn't working fast enough. She was very nice about but (v embarrassing) I got tears in my eyes and my voice kept breaking.

I'm so messed up about the bullying, and then losing the job I loved. I'm desperate for ways to get any shred of confidence back. I keep saying to myself in an Eeyoreish way "well, you're just not good at things". I am, but nothing that's valued in the workplace (am good at being nice/thoughtful to people, dressing well, sex, cooking, child-rearing, being thin - fast typist but that's not unusual, had to learn umpteen internal software applications in the last few years, but again, not unusual). I'm a big picture thinker but am in work where perfection in details is expected.

I can't sleep, cry all the time, am exhausted. Sorry this is so long.

lizzieoak Sat 04-Mar-17 16:43:00

I should add that I do try really hard and supervisors (who aren't bullying me) always comment on my good attitude. But even the nice ones find negative stuff to comment on (whether because they have to as part of the performance reviews or because it's a genuine concern - not 100% sure). I should be able to handle that, but because of my history I am really struggling.

yorkshirepuddingandroastbeef Sat 04-Mar-17 17:32:37

What type of work have you been doing and what industries?

I think work cultures can be very different and some can be very hostile/not at all nice. Not everywhere is like this though and you need to remind yourself that you are a great employee with lots of desirable skills.

dudsville Sat 04-Mar-17 17:52:39

I don't want to go into detail but I have a lot of similar experience. You need to sit down now and identify what you are going to do to help your confidence get back up to a reasonable level.
What do you value and what are your ethics and how do you or can you live up to them. Identify how you can get little aspects of control back in your life. Reviewed daily what went well. Seriously, don't continue beating yourself up, force yourself to list at least 5 things a day that went well - don't choose that rocket ship you built, i.e. don't aim too high, include the small stuff, that problem you identified before it became big, that person you helped at the bus stop, etc.,! Make a mix tape of songs that make you feel great to listen to on your way in to and home from work. Etc., etc., etc., Let this weekend be the time you reset yourself and begin feeling better. Good luck OP. And really, I know government jobs and I bet you anything that you're working to targets that are unreasonable. They hired you, other people have hired you, that means you've had good references and interview well and have performed well enough in the past. Sit down now and think about how to really help yourself in a positive way rather than telling yourself crap about not being any good at things to do with work.

lizzieoak Sat 04-Mar-17 18:39:02

Yorkshire, I don't want to get into too much detail in case it's identifying. The work culture in my current office is okay (though typical stuff that makes me feel infantilized - if anyone shows up a minute late they have to sit in the staff room till for a quarter hour till the next pay period starts, rather than taking a minute off their lunch).

Thanks duds, some really good, practical ideas there. I'm pretty practical in some ways, so that's good. I think I tell myself I'm not good at stuff as a way of preventing disappointment- because every time I get hopeful about romance or work I get kicked in the head. So if I could crush that mocking hope I'd be let down less often. But you're right, I can point out to myself successes in other areas. In some senses I think I'm a small-scale hero: I've single-patented well and go to work day after day when depressed and or with migraines. That stuff is hard! I try to be nice to people - my son & I made cookies for the homeless the other day before school/work (to be handed out by a not for profit that does street work here). People tell me I'm patient. But I tend to feel (accurately or not) that I don't get cut a lot of slack by people in general. That while I figure no-one's perfect, perfection is expected of me. But that may be my exh & work bullies talking.

I may have been slightly on the slow side (due to fears about reinjuring my arms) but the colleague who trained me gave me way lower targets to shoot for than the supervisor so the numbers she gave came as quite a shock.

The sun it out, so that helps. I made peach cinnamon muffins for my son (& me) for breakfast & we've got some nice plans for the day.

I'll try some positive reinforcement- I know the negative stuff is making me feel worse, but it's kind of slyly crept up on me as a misguided defence mechanism.

gandalf456 Sat 04-Mar-17 18:43:58

I think your environment sounds harsh . I doubt my boss would notice if I were a minute late. If I were forced to sit on the staffroom til next pay, he would get short shrift from me. I doubt that is legal anyway. No wonder you have no confidence. Are they taking into account your injury or making any adjustments?

lizzieoak Sat 04-Mar-17 19:24:50

Should say single-parenting, not parenting below - ffs.

lizzieoak Sat 04-Mar-17 19:34:50

Gandalf, I'm in Canada and that shit is pretty common here. Bosses tend to not trust their staff and staff pay them back by stealing time when possible (the boss gets in very early and leaves earlier than us so we all leave 5-8 minutes before the official end of the shift - I didn't at first but felt silly sitting in an empty office).

I don't know what our legal rights are when the bus turns up late (very common here) & then we're a minute or two late in. I do know if you buck against anything you just don't get renewed and most work in this sector tends to be contract now. If you don't like it you know where the door is, is the attitude. I find it infantilising - if they don't trust me then it doesn't build loyalty is what I see. The staff are adults, I think it would be better if they gave us some credit for wanting to do a good job, but that's not the case and has not been the case in a single job I've had here. I used to be obsessive about timekeeping but found that if once a year I was (literally) 1 minute late the dirty looks would start and so I thought "to hell with them". This place is a bit tighter than the job I loved and couldn't come back to (after loads of promises to the contrary - that gutted me as it undermined my trust hugely plus made me feel like I'd been set up for humiliation). There you could stick the kettle on if it was a bit quiet - my current job I got told off for getting a glass of water from the staff room (dry throat). I feel like a naughty school kid, though the work can be quite fiddly and requires some intelligence.

dudsville Sat 04-Mar-17 20:11:07

OP, you can't prevent disappointment - sometimes bad things happen. Sometimes you may have been able to do something to shift those things in a different direction but the past is gone and beating yourself up won't prevent future bad things from happening, learn from them where you can, increase your coping strategies for either occurrence. I'm preaching to myself here.

lizzieoak Sun 05-Mar-17 00:17:30

Duds, I never used to be a coulda, shoulda, woulda person. And I think I may even be a cheerful person. But so much painful stuff has happened over the last 20 years ... I've lost my sense of security and now trying to feel safe feels like the only thing I've got. And being criticized at work makes me feel very unsafe ... maybe because I catastrophise that we'll not be able to pay the electricity bill, lose the house etc (not impossible this could happen).

I've got to say, too, that for most people performance reviews would be more beneficial if they gave you a poop sandwich: good thing you contribute, thing you're shite at, positive thing. When it's all negative then a lot of people switch off or get defensive or move on. We lost one of our best IT people at a previous job because she was so stressed about the negativity in her performance review that she quit. I asked (when told I was too slow) if there was anything positive and then she said "your accuracy is very good", but why have to ask. Reviews should cover good and bad points.

daisychain01 Sun 05-Mar-17 07:51:23

Lizzie, I absolutely agree about performance reviews being very counterproductive to morale. It is incredibly difficult to stay motivated when you know you have done everything humanly possible to do a good job and the review is all about picking holes in you and more negatives than positives.

That said, can you try to take some crumbs of truth from their criticism and go out of your way to correct what they say they don't like? If only to say "Im listening to you". If it helps give you some sense of job security it will be worth it.

My view these days is "I'm not going to give any excuse for them to have a go at me". Timekeeping is something that can become an area of contention. Being in 5 mins early and staying 5 mins later than official time means they can't criticise. That's just a general example, there are other basics that can be the difference between a good review and an excellent one.

daisychain01 Sun 05-Mar-17 07:56:34

One thing I do know, most managers don't prepare sufficiently for Performance Reviews. They just turn up at the meeting, think about a few negatives, throw them at you but haven't invested in thinking Big Picture for a fair and balanced review.

My suggestion is for you to influence how they review you - by sending your manager a list of achievements proactively about what you know you have accomplished. In advance of the review meeting. They then have to respond to your info, not their appalling memory which is likely very inaccurate!

mselastic Sun 05-Mar-17 08:56:36

I am having the same issue.

Started a new job in January, thought I was doing Ok but told if i dont work faster I will be sacked. Two people sacked last week.

I have been given a list of new responsibilities last week and nooo training/guidance/support. How can I do a job with no training and support?

I am just expecting to be sacked shortly x

daisychain01 Sun 05-Mar-17 10:05:14

mselastic you could create a list of your new responsibilities, highlight any gaps in your knowledge or experience and recommend how those gaps can be filled.

Give them every opportunity to support you.

If they still refuse to assist, or show signs they are deliberately not taking your requests seriously, can you raise a grievance, so HR gets involved. You can present your documented request as evidence. Bad management is sometimes taken seriously by HR but it does take a fair amount of effort and meticulous records to prove your point.

lizzieoak Sun 05-Mar-17 15:04:10

Mselastic, sorry to hear that. My job has a lot of different ways to use the internal software and they're training me on how to use the various parts of it - but there's no documentation!! This boggles me, though it shouldn't as my previous contract was like that too. So I've got pages of scrawled notes. But if an anomaly they forgot to tell me about comes up, there's no notes, I have to go and ask. It's a huge waste of time and frustrating. If type notes up, but then I'd lose the time I need to meet my targets.

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