Advanced search

Mumsnet has not checked the qualifications of anyone posting here. If you need help urgently, see our mental health web guide which can point you to expert advice.

It feels as though the world of work won't let me be an adult

(75 Posts)
Lifeisgreaterthandeath Sun 10-Apr-16 20:07:58

I'm looking for advice because I can't work this out, but it feels like employers just don't want me to be an adult.. Or to put it another way, refuse to ever know, or use, my skills well and reward me, but always seem to think I'm crap and useless..but I'm really not.

I'm qualified with a business qualification, am imaginative, personable, and results orientated, have a series of roles where I have exceeded expectations, but never seem to get a good review and/or bosses seem to want to fire me, or help someone useless at the expense of me 'to give them a chance' but I don't even earn enough to have the family I desperately want. I can't go on like this, but it just keeps happening. How do I either become mediocre, but promotable, or get the promotions I deserve without getting fired? I can see that despite my abilities being higher than average, I am barely at out of school wages despite the degree. My peers are becoming directors on £80k salaries, and people I know are performing worse than me are getting promoted ahead of me. What is going on?

FrozenPonds Sun 10-Apr-16 22:07:05

Are you so difficult to work with that it outweighs any qualifications you have?

Are you over rating your skills?

If every employer you've had reacts the sane way, perhaps there is something you need to work on.

Are people promoted ahead of you just bringing more to the table? Remember, you are not owed anything, you have to earn stuff.

Ragwort Sun 10-Apr-16 22:17:28

Having a degree does not mean you necessarily have the right skills for the work place.

Do you have appraisals, reviews etc with your bosses? What can you learn from their comments?

JeanSeberg Sun 10-Apr-16 22:20:05

Is there someone you know who could give you honest feedback?

I have a staff member like this, excellent qualifications on paper but in reality can be hard to manage and come across as abrasive and rule-bound.

annandale Sun 10-Apr-16 22:22:31

Sounds like you could do with a mentor?

lougle Sun 10-Apr-16 22:48:50

There was a thread quite similar to this a while back. A man who rated himself as superior quality but just couldn't get or keep jobs because no one saw him for who he was. He, too, described himself as imaginative and personable with a results orientated approach. Sadly, as the thread progressed, it became really very clear that his view of himself didn't match the way he came across to others.

How have you judged yourself to be 'personable and imaginative?' On what grounds have you 'exceeded expectations' if your reviews have been negative?

Marchate Sun 10-Apr-16 22:50:48

I'll tell you what I think. Some people are in with the in crowd, some are not. I'm not, and maybe you're not either Life

LIZS Mon 11-Apr-16 07:43:27

You need to stop assuming your degree trumps performance and potential, as it makes you sound very entitled and/or naive. If your performance reviews are not positive focus on the specific comments . If feedback is woolly ask what you need to do to improve and that targets are SMART. Reviews can be more frequent than annually if you feel you need to have more input and guidance to keep on track. Don't concern yourself with how others are making faster progress, it may be through luck and bluster or it could be that they are gaining recognition for working hard and being a better fit in the organisation.

MummySparkle Mon 11-Apr-16 07:53:18

Can I ask why you have posted this in the Mental Health topic?

IMO, having a degree doesn't necessarily mean that you are more suited to the job. I have had a few jobs where a degree is usually needed and been absolutely fine, and employed again year on year, whereas my colleagues with BAs never came back. (Summer school)

lottiegarbanzo Mon 11-Apr-16 08:02:21

What's the connection with a mental health issue?

Getting sacked is quite a big deal, you must have been given reasons. Is that really what you mean, rather than not having a contract renewed, not being kept on after a probationary period or being made redundant?

Lifeisgreaterthandeath Mon 11-Apr-16 08:14:07

I posted in the mental health section for two reasons, firstly it seems like a pattern, as it seems people senior to me often construct artificial reasons to minimise my contribution, or even fake 'mistakes' ie I get bullied, but I also seem to be the sort of person that people allow their mask to slip with. This is positive, often, in that people tell me they feel comfortable as I don't judge them, but this also seems to give permission to office bullies to get more and more overt in their 'reveal' of nasty them. The second reason is that I am unable to develop my real life because of being kept down, even though I can see I'm at least as capable as more senior people, and it seriously affects my relationships, as I am constantly trying to make sense of massively unfair treatment and abuse of power by people responsible for appraisals.

Examples include being accused if threatening to damage an organisation, after I gave a presentation on how customer facing roles were a significant part of how an organisation is viewed, (it was interpreted by my boss as me saying 'I can really fuck up the reputation of this organisation' instead of what I was presenting which was 'realising and managing this gives us an opportunity to improve the image of the organisation') that started a campaign by that supervisor to dump work on me, and block all development opportunities.

Another boss said I had poor result, but when I asked what he thought they were, he was basing his discussion on less than a third of the actual figures, even though I had been reporting them to him. (He was a known incompetent, but it still had its effect). I had a supervisor in a temp job say they didn't believe I had the capability to give out instruction sheets to other callers in a call centre, and another boss who said a conference series I organised that was ahead of time, dramatically improved marketing, more than quadrupled attendance, and national press interest was 'terribly organised' (the person who said this then went on to do it themselves and missed all the deadlines and had gaps in the programme when marketing was released) .

It seems that I really annoy people by doing the job well, but I'm never promoted, only negatively reported on..but not for team interactions or anything like that..I normally have incredibly good work relationships with lots of people at all levels, so it's just so illogical!

LIZS Mon 11-Apr-16 08:23:36

What position do you normally hold, do you manage a team for example? It sounds as if you need to learn to manage your upwards relationships, listen to what they are saying and modify your attitude accordingly. This Is not something that can be "taught" as part of a degree. Have you worked in the frontline such as a call centre or customer service role to learn on the job or is that beneath you and frustrating. It is all very well to feel you do a better job and criticise others' methodology but that is not a constructive approach and won't get you very far.

EBearhug Mon 11-Apr-16 08:39:40

How long have you been with any of these employers?
Do you get any other sort of recognition, such as bonus or anything?
Do you know what the criteria for promotion is? In theory, ours is well-defined, but also dependent on budget and how many at a particular level are already in a department - although my director then days basically, someone needs to walk on water, which I have pointed out is not advice which is useful to anyone - it's an on-going discussion.

I agree with the advice you could do with a mentor. Have you been to HR in your current organisation to see if they can facilitate that at all? Also, is there a women's network where you are? If it's a good network, it can be very helpful, but not all networks are good, it does depend.

memememe94 Mon 11-Apr-16 17:05:10

Well I think that mental health is the wrong place for this--unless you're trying to say these problems are because you're mentally ill?

The work sections seem like a much more appropriate place for advice on developing work-based relationships.

lougle Mon 11-Apr-16 17:19:21

Was it you that posted about this before?

MummySparkle Mon 11-Apr-16 18:50:03

I have to say I am still struggling to understand why you have posted in mental health. Unless you believe yourself to have some sort of personality disorder that you can attribute these issues to?

How old are you? It sounds like you have worked for lots of different companies, is that because you don't stay long at each one?

You seem to hint a lot that you believe yourself to be more capable / competent / organised in certain situations that some of your seniors. There is a good chance that they have picked up on this hostility and therefore less likely to want you on the same / a closer level to them

Lifeisgreaterthandeath Mon 11-Apr-16 21:04:31

I don't think it's hostility? How would it come across as that? People always assume I haven't been with companies long, and it's fascinating that the same assumption is made so quickly here. I have stayed over 9 years with some.

MummySparkle Mon 11-Apr-16 22:05:20

Maybe hostility is too strong a word for what I mean, but people will pick up if you dislike them, even if you are perfectly nice towards them. I was hated by a colleague with the same job description as me because I was better at my job than her. She had worked there years whereas I was only there for one before I had DD and decided not to return to a full time job. The rest of the department thinks that she felt threatened by me and disliked that I was young. She also believed that I had preferential treatment as my hours were very slightly more flexible than hers. due to having a very young DS and a long car journey in sometimes I was up to 20mins late, however my boss and my department were fine with this because I always worked as hard as I possibly could when I was there and always staying late to get things finished if need be.

I wasn't assuming you moved around a lot. I am in my 20s, so relative to my age that's a lot of jobs in a short space of time. We don't know how old you are so I guess a lot of posters will put themselves in your scenario. Particularly with no reference to length stayed in each job.

lougle Mon 11-Apr-16 22:16:41

What do you think is the cause of these reactions? Once or twice is bad luck but if there's a pattern, you need genuine feedback to find out what you're doing wrong. With the greatest respect, anyone who writes about their superior skills and great interpersonal skills makes me wonder about their emotional IQ because it's not typical to be so self assured.

Lifeisgreaterthandeath Mon 11-Apr-16 23:40:06

Why isn't it typical to be self assured? Do you really thing being self assured is incompatible with high emotional EQ???

Lifeisgreaterthandeath Mon 11-Apr-16 23:48:14

I'm your example mummysparkle, it was the person who disliked you for being better at your job. That's what's happening to me. I don't dislike people senior to me, but I am aware that lots of my skills match and sometimes exceed theirs, but I don't necessarily reveal this. I do, though tend to do my job well, and I think that people quite often prefer it if people junior to them are worse at the job. Weirdly I prefer it the other way around, I LOVE working with people more skilled, motivated and qualified than me, as its usually much more stimulating and skilled people are also often more secure. There is something about me, though, that means bullies get obsessive towards me, but I can't see what I do, other than being good at what I do, and relaxed when I do it. That just seems to drive some people a bit crazy, but finding getting a foothold shouldn't be this difficult, but it seems to be for me somehow

lougle Tue 12-Apr-16 06:18:45

I've perhaps worded it inaccurately. I mean that it's not typical to describe o oneself so strongly to others. People don't usually tell others how amazing they are, especially in the face of work difficulties.

You are saying 'I'm amazing but no one sees it.' Most people who struggle to advance at work would say 'I'm not succeeding at work, what am I doing wrong?' I think that's the problem. If you come across to your managers as arrogant and 'above your station', they will want to 'take you down a peg or two.' If you get your head down and do the work with a bit of humility, it allows people to see your skills in action.

I can only go on your words on this thread, but you do come across (to me) as arrogant.

wannabestressfree Tue 12-Apr-16 06:35:20

If lots of people and jobs are saying the same thing and your ending up in the same position I would assume the fault lies with you.
Can you not just keep your head down , do what's required and go home. I teach in a school and there is a man desperate for promotion and he is an irritating twat who winds people up the wrong way... the only way he will be promoted is to leave.

eurochick Tue 12-Apr-16 07:21:59

There is something quite strange about this thread. I think it is the assumption that all the problem lies with (multiple) other people, rather than looking closely at your own behaviour or considering whether there are structural issues (e.g. No space for promotion) as to why you are not progressing.

lottiegarbanzo Tue 12-Apr-16 09:38:04

Do you apply for 'next step' jobs in other organisations? In the scenario you describe, wouldn't that be the best way to move forwards? That or setting up your own company?

People at the new firm won't have had a chance to become irritated by you / start to bully you before you're appointed and your current bosses would surely be happy to write an excellent reference for someone who is undeniably skilled at what they do but whom they find irritating / threatening, in order to get rid of you.

From my own experience and in general terms, I find the expectation of internal promotion unrealistic. Some people are fortunate to be able to progress, sometimes rapidly, within one organisation. But there are only so many senior positions to move into and always an element of luck, good timing and/or politics determining who gets them. Other people have to leave to progress, or else they get stuck at one level forever.

I have found some organisations and people within them very limiting, in that they view people solely in terms of the job they currently doing, don't have the resources or inclination to develop their staff, sometimes rely on people's deep knowledge of their current role to keep things going , so commonly overlook or actively hold back capable people in their midst, even those with real skills they are not currently being given the opportunity to demonstrate, in favour of external candidates. This is especially so if the organisation has been starved of resources or otherwise feels a bit down on itself overall. External candidates appear so much shinier and more dynamic, even if their skills are actually average and not all that well matched to the need.

The way to get ahead, if any of that might possibly apply (and I cannot think of an organisation with a structure so flat that there aren't more junior roles than roles at the next level) is to hop between organisations, moving upwards with each move, or at least diagonally sideways and upwards in a way that allows you to broaden your experience. I have seen people, who would never have gained rapid promotion internally, hop around and come back to the same organisation at a much more senior level because now they are regarded as a shiny, dynamic external candidate bringing new knowledge.

Back to you. It strikes me that you talk about your superior skills and abilities - which cannot have been tested, as you are not working at the level of the bosses you criticise - and that this is unrealistic and naive in any context. To summarise colloquially, book smarts only take you so far and alone, make you a skilled technician. You need street smarts - political nous - to get anywhere in management. That could be about the way you interact with people, prioritise work, present your work and ideas, schmooze the right people or fail to - all sorts of things that combine to create an image of you in the eyes of others. You may talk the talk but you cannot know for certain if you are actually able to walk the walk until you're faced with all the responsibilities that come with doing so. Skills are not experience.

All this is employment advice though. You posted in mental health. If you suspect you may have a mental illness or personality disorder and wish to explore that, then your reasons for thinking that, rather than your employment history, should be the focus of your post. (Having read the thread about crap CVs, you come across in this context, exactly like someone who instead of focusing on the relevant skills for the job - the topic of mental health and their relationship with that - has submitted a chronological CV making no links to the topic at hand).

Join the discussion

Join the discussion

Registering is free, easy, and means you can join in the discussion, get discounts, win prizes and lots more.

Register now