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Thread: Feeling incompetent at my job

  1. #1
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    Feeling incompetent at my job

    I am the process lead engineer for my department (the only engineer) and we had a meeting this morning about reducing headcount by reducing or removing some of our quality inspectors. This was something my manager and the department supervisor would always talk about because the supervisor usually was the one to deal with the quality inspectors so I never really asked about or understood the whole logistics of it.

    Well in the meeting, I didnít speak much because I really didnít know what to say or what ideas to provide. Definitely a mistake on my part. The plant manager constantly called me out, asking me about my thoughts and all I could say was that I didnít have an answer right now. Iím not good when put on the spot and to be honest, I didnít even realize I was invited to this meeting until it popped up 5mins before on my phone.

    So later the plant manager asks me to go see him when I have time. He basically said that I was very standoffish and avoiding his questions when he targeted me and that makes him think that I either am not comfortable with speaking my mind in front of those people or that I donít know the process. He said I shouldíve came into the meeting with all the cycle time information and know exactly how many people we absolutely need to keep production running properly because I AM the process engineer for the department.

    I honestly do think that I donít know the process well enough and I know that is 100% my own fault but I told him that I am typically not good at speaking in front of people but that Iím working on it, which is true as well. We then discussed the topic again and I did give him my thoughts on what I thought would and wouldnít work. He asked why I didnít say all that in the meeting and I told him that now I had more time to think about it.

    Thinking back, I should have said something and Iím feeling extremely inadequate and incompetent because everyone else in the room was probably thinking the same thing, ďwhy isnít she saying anything, sheís the process engineerĒ.

    Iíve always felt a bit incompetent in this role... Iím definitely not qualified for it and most of the time I donít know what Iím doing. I was just hoping that I could ďfake it til I make itĒ but clearly people are starting to see through that.

    At the end of my talk with the plant manager, I told him that i understood what he was saying and that it was a good talk and that I would be more vocal next time. Hopefully that doesnít lower his thoughts about me... but this is showing how much this role doesnít fit me and that I need to find something different. This is my first job out of college so I was a bit timid starting and not really know how to learn everything so thatís something I will definitely do differently in the future.

  2. #2
    Platinum Member Rose Mosse's Avatar
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    Please kick back and do not internalize. It was a rough day but it doesn't mean that you'll be fired for it. It sounds like you were ambushed and weren't ready for the meeting. It might be a wake up call to be a bit more in tune with the company and your team if you aren't yet. Plug in with your teammates more often and don't rely on meeting invites to know what's going on.

    What areas do you feel you need the most improvement and familiarization with? Start engaging with your plant manager and figuring out more how things work. Temper your expectations and speak to the plant manager about expectations of the job also if you haven't been there long. They may be testing you to see whether you have what it takes to work in that company also in terms of your character and willingness to get beat up a bit and learn through the ropes. Things won't be handed to you.

    Take it easy. I think you did a good job speaking with the plant manager and staying cool giving him your thoughts on the situation. You may be new but you've still worked hard to get where you have and I don't think you're giving yourself enough credit as an engineer. Tune in more, stay a bit humble and don't be afraid to get knee deep in the hard work.

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    Platinum Member DancingFool's Avatar
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    Honestly, it comes across like you walked into the meeting completely unprepared and not knowing what the meeting would be about and what you need to bring to the table.

    Being fresh out of college, no job is going to feel comfortable and like you have any clue....because...well....you don't. It's your first job and you don't have the experience. That said, instead of beating yourself up and being self critical, LEARN.

    The lesson here, is when you see there is a meeting coming up, learn what you need to bring into that meeting and get it done. Ask the plant manager or whoever is leading the meeting, what is needed from you, specifically what info. Then come prepared with reports, paperwork, presentation, whatever you need. It also gives you an opportunity to think about what input or ideas you might have for the topic. While realistically, you can't prepare for every question, you will come across as competent and ready and then, if a few times you need to say that you'll need to get back on to them on whatever, it will be accepted. Be sure that you do make note and bring back that info.

    Basic rule of thumb is always know what the meeting is about. Know what your contribution to the meeting needs to be. Even if you are told that it's none, just your presence required, always have pen and paper ready, and if you are a manger of anything, know your numbers for your department, be it employees, attendance, productivity, profitability, output, etc, etc, etc. Whatever is relevant to your position.

    Finally, don't be so dramatic about constructive criticism in the workplace, learn from it. You showed up unprepared, now you know better. Don't forget to get back to the plant manager all the info that you didn't have that he wanted from you. That's how you redeem yourself. Overall, you are not the first or last to get caught in a meeting with your pants down. Happens to everyone. Not the end of the world, certainly not the end of your career.

    Don't fake it, learn.

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    Originally Posted by Rose Mosse
    Please kick back and do not internalize. It was a rough day but it doesn't mean that you'll be fired for it. It sounds like you were ambushed and weren't ready for the meeting. It might be a wake up call to be a bit more in tune with the company and your team if you aren't yet. Plug in with your teammates more often and don't rely on meeting invites to know what's going on.

    What areas do you feel you need the most improvement and familiarization with? Start engaging with your plant manager and figuring out more how things work. Temper your expectations and speak to the plant manager about expectations of the job also if you haven't been there long. They may be testing you to see whether you have what it takes to work in that company also in terms of your character and willingness to get beat up a bit and learn through the ropes. Things won't be handed to you.

    Take it easy. I think you did a good job speaking with the plant manager and staying cool giving him your thoughts on the situation. You may be new but you've still worked hard to get where you have and I don't think you're giving yourself enough credit as an engineer. Tune in more, stay a bit humble and don't be afraid to get knee deep in the hard work.
    Thanks for your response. Iíve been with the company for 2 years now, (1 year in this department) so I do feel like I really SHOULD know all the ins and outs of the process but I know I wasnít hands on enough starting this position and that my lack of confidence in my skills and abilities is what made me shy away from learning certain parts of the process.

    I know I should move forward from today and just try harder now that I know the things I should be learning and doing.

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  6. #5
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    Feeling incompetent at my job

    Originally Posted by DancingFool


    Basic rule of thumb is always know what the meeting is about. Know what your contribution to the meeting needs to be. Even if you are told that it's none, just your presence required, always have pen and paper ready, and if you are a manger of anything, know your numbers for your department, be it employees, attendance, productivity, profitability, output, etc, etc, etc. Whatever is relevant to your position.


    Don't fake it, learn.
    Thanks for your response. My manager was there and shared info about the department regarding employees, productivity, etc etc. He was actually the one to call the meeting

    When I spoke to the plant manager, he was saying that I shouldíve come in with all that information and know exactly how many people I needed based on the productivity. And I know I should know all that information as well, but like you said, I was definitely not prepared.

  7. #6
    Platinum Member Wiseman2's Avatar
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    Just keep saying o yourself "mangers manage and bosses boss" Take things in stride and just continue to do your job to the best of your ability.

  8. #7
    Platinum Member j.man's Avatar
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    I mean no, it's not a good look. That said, especially if you're in the engineering field, I'd take things at face value. He tells you that this and this are things you should come prepared with, it could be as simple as that. That's not to say he didn't expect better, but what are you going to do? Take what you've intuitively learned and the direct input he's provided and up your game accordingly. You'll learn and improve.

  9. #8
    Platinum Member Rose Mosse's Avatar
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    Originally Posted by jackie103
    Thanks for your response. Iíve been with the company for 2 years now, (1 year in this department) so I do feel like I really SHOULD know all the ins and outs of the process but I know I wasnít hands on enough starting this position and that my lack of confidence in my skills and abilities is what made me shy away from learning certain parts of the process.

    I know I should move forward from today and just try harder now that I know the things I should be learning and doing.
    I had one or two rude awakenings in my profession when I first started (things were not what I expected them to be). I had to retrain myself in a few things I thought I learned in school. You're still in your grace period especially if this is your first job out after graduating but past your second year, it's not surprising if your boss is expecting a bit more out of you. Take it as a well-earned challenge and enjoy the ride.

    Your boss is probably receiving a lot of feedback about how things aren't working very well currently and he's sitting in the hot seat trying to figure out how to come up with solutions because all eyes are looking at him if no one else has anything to contribute. If you haven't turned the tables around and asked him what he thinks of your ideas or what he thinks of your solutions or what his thoughts are, ask him. It doesn't sound to me like he's looking at you to pick on you for being inadequate. He seems more under pressure and stressed out and he wants you as his lead and to be his insight or sounding board. Don't shy away from the challenge.

  10. #9
    Platinum Member catfeeder's Avatar
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    This was something my manager and the department supervisor would always talk about because the supervisor usually was the one to deal with the quality inspectors so I never really asked about or understood the whole logistics of it.
    I'd go back to these two and tell them that you're being targeted by the plant manager as the subject matter expert on this process and need to review it with them to learn it.

    Consider any other areas of the job where you may be called upon by others to represent your team in meetings, and make the investment to review those processes with those who currently handle them. You can also extend such meeting invitations to those who can best speak to them.

    Managing a project doesn't mean you need to know every spec of everyone else's role, but it does mean that you must acquire the ability to identify the right people to have in a room for coverage of topics beyond your expertise.

  11. #10
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    Originally Posted by jackie103
    to be honest, I didnít even realize I was invited to this meeting until it popped up 5mins before on my phone.
    Explain this a little further, as this could help you out here with your manager.

    Did the meeting really just "pop up" on your phone with only 5 minutes notice, or was the 5 minutes notice an alarm to get to the meeting?

    Because if you truly weren't even invited to the meeting until 5 minutes prior, then yes, you can, and should, explain that to your manager, as there's no way to prepare in 5 minutes.

    But if you had the meeting on your calendar all along, and the 5 minute "pop up" was an alarm, then yes, next time I'd be better prepared.

    Either way, take this as a lesson learned, and for future reference: even if they call you in at the last minute, always be as prepared as possible. This isn't the end of the world for you, I promise.


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