Career Advice

“I Suck at My Job!” 13 Effective Ways to Improve Your Performance

“I suck at my job!” You say in frustration, anger, or low self-esteem. And no matter how hard you try to improve, it feels like you’re just getting worse. 

You’re not alone. A HubSpot survey saw 85% of workers feel incompetent at work. Moreover, Ross McCammon, Deputy Editor of Texas Monthly, proves this point by saying:

“Failure is huge right now. It’s being studied. It’s being written about. It’s being blogged about.”

So is there a way to not suck at your job? Yes, there is! Today, I will give you the 13 effective ways to improve your work performance so that you won’t suck anymore. Let’s dive in!

Read More: 13 Ways To Stop Feeling Incompetent At Work

How to Not Suck at Your Job

If you’re on the brink of hating yourself or waiting to get fired, don’t give up just yet. Here are 13 effective ways to stop you from exclaiming “I suck at my job!”:

  1. Discover in what areas you suck
  2. Set realistic goals
  3. Stop obsessing about doing everything right
  4. Focus on your strengths
  5. Improve your work-life balance
  6. Seek regular feedback
  7. Ask for training
  8. Ignore negative judgment
  9. Take criticism 
  10. Manage up
  11. Speak to a therapist or trusted person
  12. Talk about the possibility of a different role
  13. Maybe it’s time to get a new job

1. Discover in what areas you suck

The first step to not sucking at your job is to find the root problem. If you know what areas you suck at, you’ll be able to find ways to improve on it. If you don’t identify the main problem, you’ll never know what to work on. 

So why do you say, “I’m terrible at my job”? Do you constantly miss deadlines? Do you make small mistakes and don’t realize it until it’s pointed out? Do you have no idea how to use a specific software?

Let’s say you keep missing deadlines. Well, you’ll need to learn how to prioritize your tasks, as well as how to manage your time well. You may need to set up a calendar that warns you about upcoming deadlines. 

What if you keep making small mistakes? One good way to counter this is to stop working under pressure. Again, this requires good prioritization and time management. If you have enough time, you’ll be able to go over your work completely before submitting it. 

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2. Set realistic goals 

So you’re feeling like you’re not quite hitting the mark at work. You’re always in a rush and not doing anything right. You feel overwhelmed by the list of tasks you need to do. You’re super disorganized. 

The great news is that there’s a way to turn things around. And it starts with setting some realistic goals. I’ll break it down for you. 

When you set realistic goals, you’re giving yourself a doable roadmap. If you say, “Tomorrow I will be super organized and have everything under control”. Well, that’s not exactly realistic, is it? 

You can’t just magically change your ways. Trust me, you’ll only get disappointed if you think this way. 

But if your goal is to clean your desk tomorrow and make sure that there are no typos in that document you need to send, now we’re talking! You’re setting a realistic goal that gives you something tangible to work towards. Treat it as little stepping stones that lead you to success. 

And when you start hitting those goals, even the smallest ones, it’ll make you feel good. This will also boost your confidence and keep you motivated. 

3. Stop obsessing about doing everything right

The team at LazyCrazyMisfit, a blog dedicated to helping workers become better, says:

“Obsessing with every pore of your being about doing something right is bound to make everything go wrong.”

Remember, we’re all human. We all make mistakes. So when you’re on the road to improving your performance, don’t beat yourself up if you make another mistake. Don’t think, ‘That’s it! I will never become good at my current job!” Instead, you should learn from it. 

I know that’s what everyone says. But it’s a very effective way to stop your constant thoughts of “I’m incompetent at my job”, “I’m a failure”, or “I suck at my job”. Easier said than done, right?

If you want to succeed, you need to change your mindset from a “fixed mindset” to a “growth mindset”. Carol Dweck, a Stanford psychologist, tells us the difference between the two mindsets:

“People with “fixed mindsets” believe their abilities are unchangeable—a belief that causes them to shy away from situations in which they might fail. By contrast, people with “growth mindsets” embrace challenges because they believe they can become smarter and more capable even if they don’t succeed.”

Read More: Developing A Winning Mindset: 15 Ways to Win At Work and In Life

4. Focus on your strengths

No doubt, you have talent. Why else would your boss hire you and keep you in the job for a year or two or more? 

The reason you probably feel like you suck at your job is because you focus on all the negatives, never the positives. If that’s true, you’ll constantly feel like you can never measure up to your tasks and responsibilities. And when you do make a mistake, that is your confirmation that you’re right about yourself. 

This is why one effective way to not suck at your job is to focus on your strengths. If you’re particularly good in one area, put your mind to that, while you slowly improve your weaknesses. This will help your lack of confidence. 

Also, if you’re very helpful in some areas to your manager, they may appreciate your work and won’t want you to get laid off. They may also see that you’re someone who’s trying to improve and not just accepting that you suck and that’s it. 

Read More: How to Find Your Strengths and Capitalize On Them

5. Improve your work-life balance

“I’m struggling at my job. I suck at everything I do.” One reason why this might be true is that you lack the motivation to do the job well. 

Here’s one stat you should know: Employees are said to work better by 20% when they’re motivated. So a common side effect of a lack of motivation is to make many mistakes.

If you want to improve, you need your motivation back. How do you do that? One effective way is to improve your work-life balance. If you focus too much on work, work, work, you’ll naturally burn out. 

So make it a habit that, when you leave the office building, don’t think about work. Do something that you love. Go ahead and enjoy a nice bath and book. Hang out with your friends and family. Watch Netflix with your favorite person. 

During the weekends, you can plan something fun instead of dreading Mondays. You might even want to ask your boss if you can do some remote work to improve your personal life.

When you take this time for yourself, you’ll feel refreshed and all pumped up to tackle work with a lot more motivation. 

Read More: Revitalize Your Work Life: How to Overcome Lack of Motivation at Work

6. Seek regular feedback

If you want to improve your performance, then you must seek regular feedback. Speaking about individuals with a growth mindset, Carol Dweck says this:

“They’re willing to get things wrong, but more importantly, they’re ready to listen to the feedback.”

You can’t do everything by yourself. So if you feel helpless in your pursuit to improve, then go to your manager, supervisor, or even just a trusted coworker and ask many questions.

Ask them where you need the most correction. Ask them what they think your strengths and weaknesses are. Ask them what you should do to avoid the same mistakes. 

Remember, there’s nothing wrong with admitting your mistakes. If you’re willing to work on it, that is already a great sign that you’re a hard-working employee. You’ll love to hear that a whopping 91% of bosses would prefer someone hard-working over someone who has natural talent

7. Ask for training

OK, maybe the reason why you suck at your job is because you lack skills and knowledge. You were thrown into something you don’t know much about. Of course, you won’t be great at it. 

If this is the case, then you can ask your manager for training. But “Asking for training makes me feel uncomfortable and self-conscious.” It might help to craft a well-thought-out approach. 

You can start by admitting you’re feelings of incompetency. You can then go on to say that you really want to improve to help the team. You can then suggest that extra training will be greatly appreciated. A good manager is likely to agree and appreciate your openness, honesty, and commitment to self-improvement.

But what if they reject your proposal? No worries. You can always find online courses and workshops that will help you. If you’re struggling with software, there’s no end of software training online. Don’t let one incompetent manager make you unsatisfied and unhappy about your work. 

Read More: “My Boss Won’t Train Me”: How To Overcome This Obstacle?

8. Ignore negative judgment

Not everyone in the workplace is your friend. In fact, you might find yourself surrounded by toxic managers and coworkers. If you’re already thinking “I suck at my job”, you’re going to feel it even more when others constantly point it out (whether publicly or privately). 

This is why, another way to stop sucking at your job is to ignore negative judgment. The LazyCrazyMisfit team gives a great explanation of this:

“When you’re typing with someone watching, suddenly the same fingers that can type “Do penguins have toes?” at 3 a.m. in the dark, don’t know where which key is anymore.”

In other words, if you’re always conscious of the negative eyes watching you, you’ll get nervous and make even more mistakes. So you need to ignore them and focus on learning and improving. You shouldn’t be afraid of them either.

Most likely, your coworkers also have feelings of incompetency. But instead of working to improve themselves, they try to put down others to feel better about themselves. It’s good to understand and sympathize with them, but never take their negative judgments to heart. 

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9. Take criticism 

With my previous point, you might think that you should block out all criticism against your work. I don’t mean that. Ross McCammon is right when he says:

“Sometimes even the most obnoxious smart-ass has a point.”

The truth is, you can learn a lot from criticism, constructive or not. So while it’s a bad idea to take negative judgment to heart, it’s good to examine yourself on what you’re being criticized for. Because a lot of times, we usually can’t pinpoint why we suck. 

So if Joe and Lucy keep mocking you that you don’t know how to do something right, you can check whether they are right or not. You can even approach them and ask for more details. Ask them to justify their criticism of you.  

If what they say is not true, then ignore them. If it’s true, then let them know that you’ll work on it so you become better. This is the best way to win over toxic coworkers. 

Again, this is easier said than done. It can be hard to take criticism, especially when it’s done with malice. This is when you’ll need all the confidence. Even if what they say is right, you need confidence to believe that you can improve on it. You need to have a growth mindset. 

Read More: 8 Great Tips I Used to Deal with Coworker Who Makes Me Feel Incompetent

10. Manage up

Someone on Reddit gave advice from their own experience. They said:

“I had an assignment given to me a month ago. I asked for a due date, but my manager didn’t give me one. A few days later, my manager was annoyed at me that I hadn’t turned it in. Was that fair? Absolutely not. But fairness isn’t part of the game. What I should have done (my brother later told me), was to provide my boss with a due date.”

Maybe the reason why you believe you suck is because your manager is incompetent. They don’t give you clear instructions. Then, they make you feel bad about not doing your job properly. 

If you notice this pattern, now is the time to manage up. This means you manage the manager. I’ll give you some examples of what this looks like.

You can send them updates on what you’re working on (when in reality, you’re reminding them what you’re working on). If you’re not 100% sure about some instructions, you ask for more details. As the person from Reddit said, provide your boss with the due date when none is given. If you’re given another task, let your manager know that if you do it first, you’ll have to postpone the other task you were already working on. 

11. Speak to a therapist or trusted person

Imposter syndrome is very common in the workplace. An Asana study discovered that 62% of employees experience imposter syndrome. 

What’s that, you might ask? It’s a psychological phenomenon where people doubt their abilities and accomplishments, feeling like frauds despite evidence of their competence. In simple terms, you don’t suck at your job but you think you do. 

Even if you do a good job, you’ll say it’s just luck or external factors – it’s certainly not your skills and efforts. If this is your problem, then it will be really hard to improve your ways. 

The reason I say this is because imposter syndrome is a complex matter. It’s influenced by perfectionism, fear of failure, comparison with others, societal or cultural expectations, personality traits, upbringing, workplace culture, etc…

This is why the best thing you can do is to speak to a therapist. They will help you navigate your thoughts and feelings to come to a safe and relieving conclusion – you don’t suck at your job. 

If you can’t afford a therapist, you can speak to family members or friends that you trust. You’ll be surprised to know just how many people feel the same way. You can help each other get rid of that negativity and start to foster positivity. 

12. Talk about the possibility of a different role

In some situations, you’ll have to admit it. Your job is beyond you. You keep making mistakes because it’s not the right job for you. You can’t fit a square peg in a round hole.

But that doesn’t mean you’re a failure. It just means you’re in the wrong position. You’ll probably be better off if you transfer to a different role that matches your skills and expertise. 

Now, you should be careful here. You need to be sure that the job is beyond you and not just because of the other reasons I mentioned above. What’s more, you should find ways to improve and be well-equipped for the job. 

But if you try everything and you’re still struggling at work, you can talk about it to your manager or HR. Be honest and tell them about your struggles, your effort to improve, your willingness to continue working for the company, etc… You can then ask them if it’s possible to try a different role that’s more suited to your skills, knowledge, and experience. 

I know that this will be an awkward and uncomfortable conversation. But transferring you to another job may be the only way to finally stop thinking, “I suck at my job!” Because this time, you’ll be doing tasks that you excel in. 

13. Maybe it’s time to get a new job 

This is your last resort. Let’s say you can’t stand the toxic work environment – it’s ruining your mental health and personal life. Maybe you’re not allowed to transfer to a different role so you constantly fail at your job. Or, maybe you lack motivation and can’t spark it up in the same boring workspace. 

If you’ve tried everything and still feel like you suck at your job, look for a different job. This is the only way you’ll be able to feel satisfied with what you do

Here’s one testimony from someone on Reddit: 

“I have been trying extra hard to give this job my all (even though I’m definitely not paid enough) it feels like every time I’m trying really hard to improve there is something that sets me back 10 steps. Sometimes I just want to quit because I feel I’m more of a problem than helping. I ended up getting laid off and now I do freelance work and I am 1000000% happier with life!”

Who knows, you may be like this person and feel 1000000% happier with your job and life. You just need to take the plunge. Of course, you need to plan carefully. So start looking for a new job the right way. 

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Final Words

“I suck at my job!” No one wants to come to that realization. But if you feel this way, don’t lose hope. Try out the 13 effective ways to improve your performance that I listed here. 

If nothing comes out of it, then your last resort might be to go through the interview process again. Find a new job that will change your life and make you happy with your work. 

About Author

Founder of With over 20 years of experience in HR and various roles in corporate world, Jenny shares tips and advice to help professionals advance in their careers. Her blog is a go-to resource for anyone looking to improve their skills, land their dream job, or make a career change.

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