What to Do When Your Boss Makes You Feel Incompetent

Last updated: Feb 26, 2023

Do your boss's words make you feel like you can't do anything right? You're not alone! It's a common issue that's hard to handle. Don't fret! There are techniques to change the situation.

Business Man Emotion

Read this article to discover how to control tricky conversations and take control of your workplace.

Understand the Reasons Behind Your Feeling of Incompetence

It's important to understand why your boss is making you feel incompetent. They may not mean it, or be aware of the effect. Check if expectations are higher, or if there's miscommunication. Communicate openly and honestly.

If it's not a miscommunication, it might be personal insecurity. Identify what makes you feel inadequate, and look for ways to improve. Seek out training opportunities, or attend seminars to boost confidence.

Once this is addressed, talk to your boss about how they can help. Ask what it is that's making them think negatively about you. Open conversations can help resolve issues in the workplace.

Identify Your Strengths and Weaknesses

It's normal to feel like you should just be “good enough” for your boss. But that's usually not the case. To figure out what you can control, and what you can't, list your strengths and weaknesses. That way, you can identify the things you need to improve and what you don't need to worry about.

Start by writing down all of your job duties. Then, rate yourself from 1-10 on each one. Be honest. If there's something you're not doing well, accept it and make a plan to get better. You might want to ask a mentor for help too. They can give you objective feedback.

At the same time, remember your successes! Even if there are some things you need to work on, your performance could be good enough that it doesn't need criticism from your boss. Track your accomplishments to remind yourself. It's important to stay positive and protect yourself from negative comments or expectations from other people.

Communicate Your Concerns to Your Boss

When you struggle with your job, it's important to tell your boss. This can be intimidating and uncomfortable. But it's important to let them know how you feel so changes can be made. An open conversation with your boss allows you to talk about why you're feeling incompetent. And provides an opportunity for them to recognize what steps you need to succeed.

  • Remind yourself that your boss gave you the task because they believe in your ability.
  • Think about solutions and steps to increase competency before talking. Be prepared with suggestions that'll help you improve and identify any necessary support or resources.
  • Showing initiative on projects or tasks shows understanding of improvements needed and commitment to change.
  • Objectively look at the situation. Don't take criticism personally. Keep a professional attitude throughout. Acknowledging concerns quickly shows maturity and leads to a better work environment.

Ask for Clarification and Guidance

If your boss has made you feel incompetent or unfairly criticized your work, it's best to ask for clarification. This will help you understand their expectations better and give you insight into how to prioritize tasks and improve performance. Showing that you are willing to ask for help and advice expresses that you are engaged and dedicated to learning and growing in the workplace.

When asking for feedback, keep an open mind and be respectful. Have a conversation in a collaborative way, not with fear or defensiveness. Remain professional, listen carefully and follow up quickly on any requests.

Before meeting with your boss, prepare "homework". Synthesize their feedback into actionable items (such as getting extra training or help) to aid in your development. Having a plan ahead of time will help keep conversations productive and everyone will leave with clarity on next steps.

Focus on Your Professional Growth

When your boss makes you feel incompetent, it can be hard to stay calm. But you can use this as an opportunity to grow.

  • First, make sure you understand the expectations and goals set for you. Note any deadlines or deliverables. See if the expectations are reasonable for this stage of your career. If not, talk to your boss.
  • Now, focus on setting realistic targets to achieve the results. Create a plan with achievable goals and milestones. This will keep you on track. Don't get discouraged. Instead, use this to learn more, develop new skills, and build relationships.

Remember: every obstacle can lead to growth! It's tough to handle criticism from someone in authority. But, if you stay positive and focus on professional development, it can lead to positive changes in attitude and performance.

Reevaluate Your Career Goals

Feeling incompetent at work is common. Even with the best intentions, you may feel your work isn't good enough or your boss doesn't appreciate it.

It is time for self-reflection and thinking about career goals. Consider why you feel this way and what sources of incompetence you can identify. Are you doing tasks not in the scope of your job or beyond authority without permission? Focus on what is expected in the role, and remain within boundaries.

You are an asset to the organization. What is unique that you bring? Think of times when your performance was praised or feedback was seen positively. Use these moments to fuel yourself when in challenging times. Identifying these strengths will help boost your confidence.

Remember to learn from mistakes but also seek achievements. Celebrate your small wins with yourself. Everyone has room for improvement. Don't view it as a reflection on personal worth, but a chance to grow. Focus on your strengths and make a plan for success.

Seek Support from Your Colleagues

When your boss's behavior makes you feel useless, it's easy to start believing that you're not valuable. This is dangerous.

To counter it, seek support from your colleagues. Talk to them, and get reassurance and encouragement. Step back and gain perspective.

  • See if other teammates have the same issues.
  • If they do, speak up as a group instead of suffering alone.
  • Sharing experiences with people who understand the situation can build confidence and create strength.

Take Steps to Boost Your Confidence

Competence and confidence are essential in any work environment. When your boss leaves you feeling inadequate or critiqued, it can hurt career progression and self-worth. To restore trust and confidence in yourself, assess the situation objectively. Don't assume the critiques are personal. If there is validity, use it as a learning experience and ask for clarification.

Try to build a positive relationship with your boss. Open communication and fewer specific questions will help build trust. Proactive solutions and being direct and respectful during difficult conversations also help. Show proof of progress and offer feedback. Praise from colleagues in superior positions can also increase motivation. Staying proactive and having meaningful objectives can increase productivity.

Frequently Asked Questions

Q1: How can I address my feelings of inadequacy when my boss makes me feel incompetent?

A1: It can be difficult when your boss makes you feel inadequate, but it's important to remember that it's not a personal attack. Talk to your boss about your concerns and ask for feedback on how you can improve. Additionally, seek out guidance from mentors or colleagues who can help you boost your confidence and provide honest feedback.

Q2: How can I handle my boss' criticism without taking it personally?

A2: When your boss criticizes you, it's important to take a step back and think about their feedback objectively. Remind yourself that it's not personal and focus on what you can learn from the criticism. Additionally, ask for clarification if you don't understand something and thank your boss for their feedback.

Q3: What if my boss' criticism is unfair or untrue?

A3: If your boss' criticism is unfair or untrue, it's important to calmly and respectfully explain your point of view. Try to focus on facts and use concrete evidence to support your argument. If you feel like the conversation is getting heated, it's okay to take a break and come back to the discussion when everyone is calmer.