I’m afraid I’m terrible at my new job

A reader writes:

I was laid off from my sales job due to COVID and scored my “dream job” at another startup as an account manager. I was so proud and excited to start this new-ish career path and felt qualified but also that I was going to learn so much, and I am.

The problem is, I just don’t feel like I’m great at the job, and I don’t feel I can get to a point where I’ve mastered it, or at least to a point when I don’t need my manager’s support on every issue I encounter. I feel like I’m sorely underqualified for this role with regards to strategic thinking and supporting accounts of this size.

I’ve been at the job for almost six months. When should I be feeling comfortable? I started off with tons of enthusiasm, but it’s waning now and I’m pretty much just doing prep for upcoming meetings but have lost motivation to go the extra mile for strategic planning for my accounts. Part of it is that I just don’t know what to do, and part of it is that my anxiety is paralyzing. I sit and stare at my screen and try to figure things out and can’t focus. My manager has told me it took him a year to feel comfortable, but at the same time, he had an incredible amount of success in that year despite not feeling comfortable, and I’m not awesome at the “fake it til you make it” mindset.

I feel like the company loved me during the interview but are now disappointed in me, although I have no real feedback indicating this. I’m not going to hit my upcoming set of goals, but the company also understands they created these targets based on unreliable data and my entire team is in the same boat. I have yet to have my 90-day check-in, and we currently don’t have any metrics to assess performance so honestly, I don’t know HOW anyone would know if I were doing well or not.

At what point should I look for a new job if I feel like I’m not able to do the one for which I was hired? Do you have any tips on how to get my managers to tell me what would be an indicator of whether or not I was a good fit and if I had potential to really excel? I don’t want to sit around hoping I’m doing well and wondering when the other shoe will drop and they’ll discover I’m actually terrible at my job. 75% of my team is new, and we don’t really have any visibility into what each other are doing. It’s also my first job where my performance is not 100% connected to attaining specific targets. Is this just imposter syndrome? Is this the company’s fault for not supporting me more? Am I passing off responsibility for my performance?

I don’t have the energy to keep fighting for feedback or for something that helps me measure my performance. I should note, I am the only woman on my team and the only one who seems to be worried about whether or not I’m doing OK. I know this is a more common thing for women but I don’t want to brush it off as just being that.

You can read my answer to this letter at New York Magazine today. Head over there to read it.