As the title above explains it all, yes, I suck at my job. Almost 2 years into my job as a system engineer for the IT department of a manufacturing firm, I can confidently do about a portion of my regular tasks by myself. Everything else is just chaos for me and my seniors.

For coding most of the time I get my code ideas online (thanks to Stack Overflow), and when needed to I can copy and paste the code to other programs since they share the same functionality. However the main problem with me is I take way too long to troubleshoot what the problem is and how to fix it. A simple program modification will take me weeks to figure out while others can get it done in a few days, or even a few hours.

As for SAP, my actual job is to help Finance users with troubleshooting. But ironically they are the ones teaching me, while I fumble around trying to make sense of the steps. Luckily the finance team is kind enough to guide me through but I always feel guilty for taking their time. I tried online guides in SAP websites, but most of them don't make any sense to me.

Even in daily meetings, when I try to listen to everything my colleagues say and list down anything that involves me. They still expect me to remember stuff they said weeks ago and all sense of context is gone in my head by then, leaving me absolutely clueless on what they want me to do.

Sometimes, they throw me a bone and re-explain it to me but most of the time they just show contempt and just tell me to figure it out myself, leaving me a self-doubting mess for the rest of the day, even after the issue is resolved after a much longer time than it should.

Sometimes when they give me a task to do, they seem to assume the worst scenario from me, as if they know I'll screw up or ask too many questions. There was even a point where one of my colleagues asked me when am I ever going to get better at my job, even when I told her before I'm still learning. The tone of annoyance in her voice makes me want to rant in her face, but I decided to keep it to myself because a) it's inappropriate and b) I'm just too depressed because deep down I know she's right. 2 years in my job and I'm still mediocre at best certainly raises questions about my competence.

Granted, I tried to learn as much as I can, even making it a point to write manuals for myself for every SAP procedures I do, place stick it notes on my monitor as a constant reminder for things to the point where its almost full. Fortunately some of it works. I can use SAP to input invoice data competently and purchasing tech items for users is fine (although following up with vendors and keeping track of all purchase progress is still a challenge, but a work in progress).

But almost 80% of it never works or have mixed results. And all my other shortcomings plus my colleagues constant complaints about me even when I'm doing the best of my efforts always leaves my mind in a dark place, feeling like I'll never please them and I'll never get better.

Sorry if this feels like I'm whining, it probably is. I just needed to know what am I doing wrong in my job after 2 years of minuscule improvements at my performance. Feel free to be brutally honest with your answers. Thanks for your time.

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    Comments are not for extended discussion; this conversation has been moved to chat.
    – Jane S
    Commented Dec 25, 2018 at 23:12
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    Is this your first job, or did you have jobs/experience before this? If so, how did things go in your previous jobs? Commented Dec 26, 2018 at 11:08

19 Answers 19


Your post really struck a chord with me as it is very similar to how I felt at my last job. My previous job involved working in a very corporate environment on a complex system. The work involved a lot of maintenance on this system and essentially I was struggling. My colleagues seemed to get things that I didn't, they worked faster and produced better results.

After four years my performance was poor and my management and colleagues had begun to notice. I felt that I essentially hadn't improved from the day I walked in the door.

What I did is sit down and think, what am I best at and what do I most enjoy? The answer in my question was I enjoyed working on front end code and working on smaller/less complex projects. I didn't enjoy the grind of maintaining existing systems.

I then asked myself if there was the prospect for me to get a lot of this kind of work at my current employer. The honest answer to that question was no and my conclusion was that to regain my drive and improve I needed to find a job that was a better match to my skill set.

Eight months on from that honest assessment I am now working in my preferred language, in a small team developing apps I feel passionate about. Making the switch didn't make me financially richer but it has improved my mental health and given me a better quality of life. In my new team I feel more confident and have made valuable contributions to our product.

I am not saying moving is the right thing for you but you need an honest conversation with yourself. What are your strengths and weaknesses and how do those map to this job. Don't sit in your rut where you feel worthless as you'll never improve either way.

One final thing, don't compare yourself just to the people who are still there. Remember all the people who have been and gone in your time there. Clearly you're doing well enough that you're still there after two years.

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    This is the correct answer, to me. If you're not happy with your own performance (forget management) and attempts to improve aren't helping, it's time to figure out what you WANT to do and switch jobs. Not to say you should give up right away, but for the OP it's been 2 years. Life's too short.
    – Steve-O
    Commented Dec 20, 2018 at 14:24
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    +1 just for the importance of objective introspection. (Yes, I know that's oxymoronic, but I'm going with it.) Commented Dec 20, 2018 at 19:03
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    This is a very good answer, and Steve-O's comment, also. I can say, from my own experiences as a consultant/contractor that some environments (both technical and working) just don't work for me. In others, I can thrive and produce great solutions. Some times I can recognize it from the start, sometimes it takes 2-4 months to realize I cannot contribute in that position. And it is normal to blame yourself and get depressed from it. But only the perspective of leaving and moving on to something else (presumably better) will you see you were just too hard on yourself. Just move on!
    – mharr
    Commented Dec 20, 2018 at 19:20
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    This remind me of my first job. Thankfully I didn't stay there for too long, only 6 months. I also had difficulty grasping anything and felt like I might not be cut out for it. Then I switched to a different job and found out that a team leader can be a mentor and not just a slave driver. Ever since then my career has been going great.
    – user622505
    Commented Dec 21, 2018 at 3:47
  • This is the best answer because it makes OP think that moving on with a new job is a possibility and OP don't have to deal with more years of his/her life thinking he/she is worthless. Commented Dec 24, 2018 at 16:08

I just needed to know what am I doing wrong in my job after 2 years of minuscule improvements at my performance.

It's not clear from your question what you have done so far.

If you haven't already done so, you should discuss this with your boss. Perhaps there is training that could help. Perhaps restructuring your work could help. Perhaps you need some mentoring. Perhaps your self-assessment is too harsh and you are actually better than you perceive.

But if you have tried your best, worked hard for 2 full years, are doing everything you can to get better, yet still are actually "incompetent", then it might be time to conclude that this is simply not the right role for you. It might be that this role within this company is too demanding, or it might be that this role in general is too demanding and that you need to find a new career.

There's no shame in this - you gave it a good try. There's a great podcast about this The Upside of Quitting.

Find a new role that more suits your skills and abilities. Perhaps your current company offers one, or perhaps you need to look elsewhere.

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    "But if you have tried your best" : There is also the "how" that is important in the case. OP says that he doesn't remember information from weeks ago but didn't address it. He could take notes of what was said and rewrite it (writing it and rephrasing it allows to memorize) into a minute mail + putting it in a folder can correct this example of issue for example. OP seems to show good will so if he puts enough time on a task he should be able to achieve it if he executes it the right way. Commented Dec 20, 2018 at 12:36
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    @displayName That advice is all very nice to hear, but the fact is that companies that are going to survive don't pay people to try hard, they pay people who succeed.
    – alephzero
    Commented Dec 20, 2018 at 20:05
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    @displayName There's a cutoff where putting more work into something decreases the effectiveness of the work itself. This is often tied to burnout. The hardest worker I know just barely passed the same degree I was in, and the laziest person I know got straight A's and is working in a Fortune 500 now. I think Dustybin80 has a great follow up to this. But it may just be Imposter Syndrome, too.
    – Poik
    Commented Dec 20, 2018 at 20:32
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    @displayname Competence comes from working smart not hard. It comes from reflection and solving problems by going down the chain of causes to identifiable countermeasures. It does not come by applying more effort, but by changing the impact of your effort. Applying more effort is often just alleviating a symptom.
    – Stian
    Commented Dec 21, 2018 at 5:35
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    @displayname but in light of this discussion here, and what I am disagreeing with, is when you say all it takes to excel at something is hard work. People should quit more often and stop throwing effort around as a hammer that fixes everything. Failing rapidly and then changing what didn't work is the recipe. OP should have quit or changed position many months ago.
    – Stian
    Commented Dec 21, 2018 at 17:05

I don't believe there's a single answer for this, but one thing in your post did jump out at me:

even making it a point to write manuals for myself for every SAP procedures I do

This is a strong hint to me that you approach problems from a memorization standpoint, and not an actual learning technique.

IT is NOTORIOUS for teaching memorization, mainly because memorization is easy to test, and testing leads to diplomas / certificates.

And, in fairness a LOT of tasks can be memorized and performed.

However, once you start getting beyond repetitive steps and get into troubleshooting/diagnostics, and most certainly coding, you need to move up several levels in your approach.

And when I say "levels," I am specifically referring to Bloom's Taxonomy of Learning Methods:

Bloom's Taxonomy, from bottom to top. KNOWLEDGE: Recall of information; Discovery; Observation; Listing; Locating; Naming. COMPREHENSION: Understanding; Translating; Summarising; Demonstrating; Discussing. APPLICATION: Using and applying knowledge; Using problem solving methods; Manipulating; Designing; Experimenting. ANALYSIS: Identifying and analyzing patterns; Organization of ideas; recognizing trends. SYNTHESIS: Using old concepts to create new ideas; Design and Invention; Composing; Imagining; Inferring; Modifying; Predicting; Combining. EVALUATION: Assessing theories; Comparison of ideas; Evaluating outcomes; Solving; Judging; Recommending; Rating.

(And yes, I like the original noun-based version, and not the revised verb-based version).

Memorization is the "Knowledge" section at the bottom. A lot can be done there, but it is limited.

Troubleshooting and diagnostics is done between the Application and Analysis levels. Coding is done at the Synthesis level.

An aside: This is EXACTLY why people rail against "Standardized Testing" in schools. Standardized tests encourage focusing on the lowest, "Knowledge" tier, rather than progressing students to more advanced learning.

Now - the hard part - How to "Move up" in your approach?

Unfortunately, the best time to do that is between ages 8 and 12, and if your primary education system failed you, it's going to be very hard to do this as an adult. But it can be done.

You have spent all your time focusing on the "what." You need to learn to focus on the "How." How does the system you're using accomplish its tasks? What are the components and how do they interact?

Once you accomplish that, you will start thinking in terms of how YOU can arrange those components and manage their interaction in coding. That's the "Synthesis" level.

I wish I had an easy way to offer to help you move up through these levels. That's actually the profession of teachers in the 4th-8th grade levels. My mother taught at this level, which is how I came to learn so much about this.

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    @Feathercrown - Yeah, I don't know if that was the best plan (pushing it to students not studying education). To me, Bloom's is the IDE for teaching students, not the thing you should be teaching. However, once you're in charge of your own education, you should have a good bit of familiarity with it. Commented Dec 20, 2018 at 17:38
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    Wow, I never knew the position of 4th - 8th grade teacher was so important; you could really mess people up for life! As a student, I think/hope I turned out okay
    – Ovi
    Commented Dec 21, 2018 at 7:00
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    I had the same thought as this answer, especially sentences like "They still expect me to remember stuff they said weeks ago and all sense of context is gone in my head by then, leaving me absolutely clueless on what they want me to do." this screams memorization and not understanding.
    – Jim W
    Commented Dec 21, 2018 at 17:37
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    For many people, memorization of knowledge becomes orders of magnitude easier if they take that information and file it away using a comprehension of it and how it applies/fits in a larger system. It just takes less mental "space" when you understand it. I've seen many panicked people working desperately on that lower "what" (knowledge) level. In fact, I think that many people slide down/revert to the "what" level when they panic. The good news is you can do this! (to be continued...)
    – Azendale
    Commented Dec 22, 2018 at 19:05
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    You've been stretching (improving) your memory for the last 2 years -- maybe more than the people who understand what is going on. Now it's just time to change your approach and apply that memory "muscle" you've built in a different way so you can be a rockstar! You can win this 'case you're still trying. Take a deep breath, release as much stress as you can, and realize it's OK to forget a few knowledge things (for now). Then go try to understand how the system works to build a mental framework. Then fill in that framework with the bits of knowledge your co-workers pile on to you.
    – Azendale
    Commented Dec 22, 2018 at 19:12

It is rewarding to self learn, but sometimes it isn't as useful. It can take longer, you can miss essential core learning and miss out on having a solid baseline understanding.

Have you tried identifying the areas you are weak and requesting training? It really sounds like an SAP training course would do you a load of good - both in understanding the processes underlying the modules, but also in looking at how the code works.

If you have the basics down, you will find it easier to concentrate on the things you are told in meetings, items will fit into a more logical order or framework, and you will be more likely to progress rather than worry.

Update based on your comment around English language - having poor communication with colleagues/management will always make things more difficult. It seems like you have a large number of drawbacks you need to contend with, and trying to fix them all at once is unlikely, so focus on what you can. If you can't get training on SAP, think about a language course, so you can more easily work with your team. Or possibly spend more social time with them - I did this with my first job in a foreign country, and my understanding of their language was massively accelerated!

  • For SAP, self learning is the best that I can do right now. Since I'm only covering the finance portion of SAP only, and my main concern is understanding the steps. Plus the fact that some of the transactions uses customized codes and config. Though like I said, by creating personal manuals for each SAP procedures, I can have a better understanding. As for SAP code I'm not too concerned over that cuz the main branch in JP is in charge of that.
    – hjh93
    Commented Dec 20, 2018 at 10:29
  • As for my meeting issue, since I'm Malaysian, most of our English is sub-par, broken English everywhere. If anything my English is better than them due to early exposure. But sometimes when they explain things to my boss, due to their poor English, I can never grasp what they are talking about properly unless they are addressing directly to me. Sometimes they expect me to take action based on what they told our boss, and most of the time its not very clear to exactly what needs to be done and trying to ask them again only gives me the look of contempt like I said earlier.
    – hjh93
    Commented Dec 20, 2018 at 10:35
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    From these comments, @hjh93, it sounds like the language barrier may just be the major issue. You're Malaysian, what nationality/language are the majority of your coworkers? Is there another, common language that you might be able to switch to on occasion to help iron out a particular point?
    – FreeMan
    Commented Dec 20, 2018 at 15:24
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    I can use any language if necessary. It may not be as good as my English but I can still use it competently. But we generally use English cuz the group is multi-cultural. English is universal and we can all understand it. Its just their way of speaking where its disjointed or broken that I have issue with.
    – hjh93
    Commented Dec 21, 2018 at 0:34

I know exactly how you feel. I am also the weakest member of my team professionally and I can only pray that I will get better, but I also put in a lot of effort outside of work. I feel like if they are improving at maximum speed (the rate of which will change based on talent level and I have come to terms that I am not as talented), the only way I can hope to catch up is if I study outside of work. I can't tell if you're already doing that based on your post.

edit2: I have also personally experienced being held back by lack of confidence. Not believing that I was able to do accomplish something prevented me from completing a task that objectively I know I was capable of completing. I don't know what the answer is because I still experience it myself. Things that I have found helpful for this situation is getting enough sleep, balanced diet and exercise help. Seeking professional help is an obvious answer but I have not had the courage to do it for myself...

There's also the question of whether you like SAP and programming. If you just feel discouraged then just do your best and keep at it. If you find that you've begun to genuinely lose interest to the point where my suggestion of studying outside of work fills you with despair and dread maybe start spending your time on some other hobbies and try to try and find your talents. I like to think that we have enough freedom in the world to make a few career changes in my lifetime. For reference I entered the tech industry late. I regret it but I know many successful people who entered even later than I did.

edit: To add to some of the skill set suggestions, have you considered getting a formal education in MIS or CIS? I have not looked into MOOC options for this but a structured environment may help.

Also this is going to be a personal and controversial comment but please forgive your female coworker for her rudeness. I do not know her personally but this is a reality that faces many women in tech. Despite a potential skill difference (she may be more talented or more skilled) she probably perceives that you are still far more likely to advance further in your career than she is. This is possibly leading her to some misplaced bitterness. Please don't take it personally.

Tenacity is a virtue =) If you like what you do don't let anyone get you down, including yourself. Put in the effort to get better. Have faith that you will.

  • I did have a bachelor degree in MIS. But frankly what I leaned there had nothing to do with my current job. The only similarity was programming, but I was never really good at it in my university days.
    – hjh93
    Commented Dec 21, 2018 at 0:19
  • During my 1st few months working, she was generally alright with me. Its just after a ton of BS from me whenever we worked on something and teaching me the ropes on certain things (server shutdown, etc) was when she started to lose her patience from my constant repeating questions and screwing ups.
    – hjh93
    Commented Dec 21, 2018 at 0:29
  • What's more most of the time she's always mad at me due to misconceptions of my actions. When I'm busy jotting down things she's telling me to do, she instantly assumes I'm not listening to her and accuses me of being a brick wall when in actual fact I'm listening and writing exactly what she says so I can remember it later. Then she just gives me the cold shoulder and acts all bitchy towards me.
    – hjh93
    Commented Dec 21, 2018 at 3:17
  • @hjh93 I'm sorry to hear that and it's not right! She's the one with low EQ, try not to be so hard on yourself. What language are you programming in? Sorry I'm not familiar with SAP but if it's a language I use I'll recommend some resources for you.
    – jcai
    Commented Dec 21, 2018 at 15:29

I'm just too depressed

You already stated what (at least part of) your problem is. I suggest consulting a mental health professional, because a) depression is VERY SERIOUS, and b) Your chances of performing above average while you're depressed are very low.

All of the other excellent answers will help you, and you'll be really thanking them when you need to fight the cause of your "depression" (quotes since we're not psychiatrists), which from what you say might be your low performance. But you really, really need to consult a mental health professional, because those doubts and bad thoughts will always be hampering you, preventing you from learning as fast as you should be.


SAP and it's equivalent ERP systems from other vendors seem to cause a lot of grief. It sounds like your problem is that you lack the proper training to work with this system in the way that your job requires.

I've seen this with Oracle EBS and Agile-PLM as well, organizations buy these turgid systems at great expense, implement/customize them for their business, train up a few people to be power users/admins and then go into a maintenance mode where people keep doing the same things as users for YEARS and everyone forgets that it's a complex system that sometimes needs troubleshooting and new features.

If you are supporting an ERP, you NEED TRAINING not only for the product itself, but also for your site's implementation. To make matters worse, you are dealing with finance people which probably just assume that you've been trained and it somehow didn't stick and they blame you entirely.

It has probably progressed now to the point where there's not much you can do to salvage the situation, but if you can convince your management to get organized and provide training, I think that will help.


Just keep faking it, I've seen whole multi-decade lucrative careers ending in high position done this way. Mostly government careers though.

Develop strategies to make sure you don't end up being blamed for anything. Don't put things in writing, never admit culpability. Don't worry about what other people think.

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    @Answers_Seeker I wasn't joking, he hasn't got it sorted in two years....etc, turn a negative into a positive, we all gloss over our shortcomings a bit..
    – Kilisi
    Commented Dec 20, 2018 at 13:07
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    Is the negative remarks about government workers necessary. Seen a ton of <insert lazy workers here> do a worst job.
    – Donald
    Commented Dec 20, 2018 at 13:30
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    Some people do as you suggest, and appear to live their lives quite happily. The OP seems anything but happy. This isn't an answer that will help them. Commented Dec 20, 2018 at 14:56
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    The only sensible answer here.
    – Fattie
    Commented Dec 24, 2018 at 20:25
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    And scaped goat your coworkers I guess ? I don't think this can be considered as a "professional answer", at least not in my definition of "professional"
    – Walfrat
    Commented Dec 25, 2018 at 16:17

Having perceived myself as the incompetent worker, in certain positions, and not entirely without justification, I think I might have a few things to say in your defense. Let's put it all in perspective.

  • Praise, and criticism, are both innately worthless. Criticism is often unfounded, but so is praise. I've learned from experience that supervisors will sometimes offer praise to soften the blow of imminent criticism; or offer praise as flattery to incentivize high performance without the prospect of a promotion, payraise, or bonus. If you have an at-will employment arrangement, you will find out, sooner or later, just how worthless praise is. If you are asked to leave, it won't matter how much praise you got.
  • Notice if somebody else is subtly wanting you to feel insecure. Supervisors, and coworkers, can both have a vested financial interest in making you feel less-than. Supervisors don't want you to ask for a raise, or consider seeking higher pay elsewhere. Coworkers don't want you to apply for promotions or ask for assignments on exciting growth projects. And in addition, they may have soft, emotional-cathartic reasons for giving criticism and blame; maybe, venting, dissatisfaction with their love lives, or any other inadequacy in their personal doings.
  • Higher-performing team members have interests that are contrary to the company's; they have no interest in training or coaching less qualified team members, even when they are directly ordered by management to do so. It takes time, it hurts their performance metrics, and, worst of all, it might work! Workers who are used to getting accolades, and being on a first-name basis with everybody, have no incentive to share their secret sauce; especially since they are usually asked to do so without any extra pay from the employer. They can give sub-par effort to train, and they won't be disciplined, much less terminated; they have total impunity.

So what to do? Some possibly contradictory advice:

  • Don't internalize it. Realize that humans are irrational, and will give you criticism and blame for entirely selfish and irrational reasons.
  • Remember: size matters. Even if you are the weakest member on the team, the team would be crippled if it suddenly became one-person smaller. That could be the reason you are still there.
  • Remember: sunk costs are real. If your employment ends, your employer will have no more returns on the time and money spent onboarding and training you. They will have to invest that time and money again, and possibly get even less returns.
  • Remember: realistically speaking, your competition, your possible replacement, is an unemployed (or under-employed) person. The ideal, highly-talented, perfectly-qualified candidate to do your job is already gainfully employed somewhere else.
  • Time spent = documented experience. If you work at a place for 2 years, 3 years, 4 years, there is a paper trail that proves it; and then it won't matter if people talk behind your back and say you never did anything. That's not on paper. You have a huge, huge advantage in the job market, over a fresh college grad, even if that college grad is more innately talented and has just better gray matter.
  • Look for other opportunities. They exist; and I don't necessarily mean just in the same industry. Find ways to save money; network with other people who want to escape their day jobs, and be entrepreneurs. Listen to motivational speakers. Find a good hobby.
  • Hype yourself! The most successful people in the world succeeded because they did a better job of talking about themselves, their product, and their vision for the world, instead of giving somebody else the power to talk to them, rate or evaluate them. Put another way, you listen to managers tell you that you are not "worth" good money... but then those same managers probably spend wayyyy to much on sugary coffee, new smartphones, luxury goods. Are those luxuries "worth" what people spend? A new car salesman will walk away from a bad deal in less than an hour, and hype the same product to some other sucker.

My two cents.

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    You cannot assume higher performing co-workers and managers do not want newer people to succeed... the opposite is usually true. Their year end goals are generally not to 'do their job' - which they can already do perfectly, but rather to improve the performance of the department as a whole - and mentor junior team members.
    – Paul
    Commented Dec 21, 2018 at 14:17
  • -1 This answer seems to boil down to "OP is fine, everybody else is out to get him". I don't see how that helps OP at all. Yes, some people are mean to him, but all the issues he is describing are not clearly a product of some evil machinations. OP is describing very concrete, factual problems (paraphrased - "I cannot remember X after 3 weeks", "my mind seems to be a mess when I think about Y").
    – AnoE
    Commented Dec 24, 2018 at 19:30

You're clearly overwhelmed.

I gather your problems are:

  • you're obviously not familiar enough with SAP
  • you're inexperienced (in programming and professional workflows with complex systems, bugtracking and troubleshooting)
  • you're potentially in the wrong field (at least for now, maybe the financial software environment and / or troubleshooting is not your thing)

  • in conclusion:
    you're actually not ready to be in the workforce on SAP, maybe even in general (you can't write code on your own without fishing for ideas online - once you know the language / system and what you need to accomplish you should be able to do it with ease, like forming sentences to express your thoughts in your native tongue)

Suggested solutions:

  • ideally, quit your job if you can financially

  • go to school / training for the areas you're lacking

  • understand the system (i.e. SAP)

  • learn and understand bugfixing and troubleshooting processes (though I wager your subpar performance stems from insufficient SAP knowledge)

To your question:
If you have the luxury to chose, it is important that you enjoy what your doing professionally.
Bad work environment or hostile colleagues should not be tolerated if possible and a change of employer seems in order.

If you can't afford to quit it becomes an interpersonal issue that can range from honest one on one conversations about your junior status and the inexperience coming with that all the way to escalating it to managment.

Mind you, it seems the company and your colleagues were very patient with you(2 years).
Somehow you didn't manage to gain enough confidence / routine with SAP and you need to honestly answer for yourself why that is, before you can attempt to fix it.
I think their behaviour comes from their frustration with the afforementioned fact.
It doesn't excuse how they react but it sheds some light on the reason.


It sounds to me like you just need more sleep. It will help your emotional state. It will help you remember things (it sounds like you don't) and pay attention.

You also need to talk with your manager and get on a program where you have regular feedback and support from someone on your team every day. If you are an introvert (like me) it is hard to approach someone else and ask for help, but doing that after being stuck for 1 hour looks a lot better than doing it after being stuck for a week! Having a guide along the way will help you make that kind of decision.

It will be a long road to repair the reputation you imply. Start by taking care of yourself (sleeping) and approaching people proactively for help.

  • 2
    I don't have the rep on this site to post a new answer, but I wish this answer could be expanded to include other physiological causes: diet or personal lifestyle. Something may be affecting your body (over the counter drug especially those involved in heart treatment, other drugs, alcohol, or even herbal teas). It could be something you are NOT taking in: Some cannot survive properly on an vegan diet because their body won't process fats to ribose unless they have the proper type of protein (for instance). This affects the lining around nerve cells and you can't retain information. Commented Dec 21, 2018 at 15:39

In my experience, it could be a problem of environment and personality. Basically, about you and them. I will tell you about myself and if you find yourself in this story, we might find a solution.

The problem with you it is not exactly a problem. It is about the way you are. For example, I am the kind of person that is affected about what others believe about me. If colleagues at work see me as an incompetent, that would probably make me be even more incompetent than I already am. Because my effort of being better will always be simply destroyed by the stress of proving them that I am not incompetent and that I can do it. For some, this work as an engine to be better. For me, is more like a brake.

What is to be done?

  1. You cannot change that, it's the way you are. But you can control it.

Stop caring about others reactions. Listen to the task they give you. If their faces makes you feel inferior, or stupid, stop looking at them. Look down, but give signs that you're listening. Ignore their reactions.

Start working. Work hard but not with the thought that I have to finish this, I have to prove them! - no! Work hard thinking that you are human, and humans are limited. I will work hard, but I will do as much as I can do - because you can't work more than your limits are. Don't use your phone, don't text, don't play while you're working.

... or ...

  1. Find another job where the environment will allow you to grow.

You say that after two years, you take an order of magnitude more time than your colleagues to perform routine tasks, and you are very unhappy about this.

You may or may not be in the wrong career, but you are certainly in the wrong job, and it is doing you harm.

You need to get out of this soul-crushing situation as soon as possible. If financially feasible, give notice today. If not, start looking for another job immediately. Any other job that will pay the rent. A job hunt is difficult in the midst of a serious depression, but at the moment, it's more feasible than mastering the job you've got now.

I would hesitate to take another tech job when you're in this state of acute demoralization and despair. You don't want to put yourself back in the same hole again. Give yourself permission to take it easy for a while. Your worth as a human being is entirely orthogonal to whether or not you can do anything useful with SAP. That's not obvious to you now, but it will be obvious after you pull yourself out of this sarlacc you've fallen into.

You feel like you can't go forward and you can't go back, but that's the depression talking. Going back is an option. Take that option. You don't have to live like this. It's the one positive way you can take control of your situation right now.

Sometimes success is not an option, and you have to declare defeat and cut your losses. We live in a culture where positive self-talk is believed to be a sort of universal solvent, but it is not. It is not true that anybody can be anything, and it is not healthy to kill yourself pushing the wrong stone up the wrong hill, when you could be putting the same effort into something that makes you feel good instead of something that makes you want to die.

You aren't going to get your confidence back until you are out of that situation, and it is critical for you to get your confidence back in order to start moving forward again. The place to recover your confidence as a mountain climber is not at the bottom of a sheer cliff with your leg broken. The leg will heal, but not until you get yourself out of where you are.

You may or may not need to see a mental health professional, but you do need to get out of your job.

Source: Lifelong major depression, and once was in a job situation uncannily like yours. I quit and worked in a non-technical call center for a while, and a year later ended up back in my field. It's been several years and I'm doing well. But I had to get out and breathe fresh air for a while.

Note: I believe that this is not a duplicate because I am not saying that getting out of there as soon as humanly possible is an option; I'm saying it's the only option. I don't get the impression that other answerers here have walked very far in OP's shoes. Will delete if I'm wrong about that.


This is very much a personal situation and your post doesn't really contain any concrete questions to answer, but I will share some thoughts. I was in a similar situation when I worked in engineering; I started out as an intern and quickly outgrew my initial role doing routine work, but then lacked the educational background to transition into a full-worth designer.

Most people are, in fact, mediocre at their jobs (that's what the word means - average) and there are many who do not fully grasp what's going on at their office or even what their company actually does. Most people also polish their resumes liberally, and some even outright lie about their qualifications. In summary: we're all faking it, to some degree.

From your description, it sounds like you have stagnated. You lack knowledge and training for your specific tasks, but you are also stuck doing something you have little personal interest in. This is partly to be expected - it's called work and you get paid because it's not supposed to be super fun all the time - but there is a very real risk you will burn out, making it even harder to improve your situation.

First of all, you could try getting some therapy or personal coaching to deal with these feelings of inadequacy. You are probably not doing nearly as bad as you think - it can help a lot to just have someone neutral to ventilate with, without fear of repercussions. You can actively work with your own mindset and how you handle criticism (it takes a lot of effort, sure - but just by making this post you show that you are already trying to improve).

Next, think about what you actually want to do and look for a new job. In this age switching jobs after "only" two years is not uncommon. Even if you're not top-notch at what you do, you have still been working at the best of your ability for a long time and should be able to get a solid reference from your current employer. If things are really as bad as you describe (they probably aren't), they might already be looking to replace you, but they might find some relief and comfort in helping you get another job that you are better suited for, rather than just having to sack you.


Make sure that this is the right job for you.

  • How much is missing in your skills? Evaluating this may be more complicated than it sounds; to me it seems that you are oblivious to complete task levels of the job being asked from you.

  • Reconsider why you actually have these problems. Did you slack off during your studies? Did you oversell something? Are you under personal stress which keeps you from learning? Do you have any health or psychological issues (sleeping problem, depression, ADHS etc)? Are you stuck in commuting so much that your life is sleep-commute-work-commute-sleep?

  • Do you have the feeling that you are talented for something else?

If it is the right Job: Planning and communicating the fix - if you want to stay there

  • Think about how much time you can spend on the side to learn

  • Ask your boss to make a plan with you and ask for training

  • Plan your personal life a little better, and compromise on it. Maybe you cant go drinking with your buddies as often as you used to.


In my view, the first step to solving a problem is knowing you have one: You've done that.

Next step would be building towards mastery:

  • Read books (videos are good for practical reasons, but at the end of the day you need some level of academic understanding. Mostly because that's what gives you the tools to understand the problem at a basic level.) Get books, school books, technical books. Start from zero, whatever you need to do to learn, do it. Take courses. The point here.
  • Lose any ego you had. Ego is terrible for a developer. It let's them get comfortable or it's a constant stream of self doubt. All you should care about is results and learning.
  • Work outside work. The truth, you suck at your job. The only way you get better at a thing is doing more of it, at your own pace. (and with zero consequence) Repetition can help a lot. Practice makes perfect. The difference between people who are good and who aren't is simply drive. The drive to be better by putting in the time.
  • Do something that at least interests you
  • Read books on productivity, and self help.
  • This is just an "extra" because you said you've tried. But maybe you should learn how to learn. It's a difficult thing to do but really, it's the difference, long term, between good and great developers.

Experience take time. The famous saying that it takes 10000 hours to master a craft is not always quoted in a way that makes it clear that it is 10000 hours of concentrated work on getting better. Not just doing thousand things at once.

I do not have a full answer, except that you should talk to your boss in a 1-1 and say that you have these challenges and want to improve but you need help. You might get that, but you will also learn how the boss looks at your efforts. They might be happier with you than you think 🙂

What struck a note with me was:

They still expect me to remember stuff they said weeks ago

which indicates to me that this isn't written down anywhere. Or at least not in a form useful to you.

You can fix that. Be the one who do the meeting summaries! Nobody else wants to do this useful task, you get to write things down, ask for clarification about how exactly things should be written, and you remember it better. Also you can say, "Sorry, this was not in the meeting summary" instead of "Sorry, I don't remember" if this happens again.


It can be inefficient to improve in a large number of skills at the same time. I recommend identifying the top skill you need to acquire, and spend at least half of your spare time training yourself to become proficient at it. As you put in the effort, results will come and others things will become easier as a consequence.

  • As I see now, I need to focus on SAP since I prioritize on supporting finance. But most of my tasks comes in by demand. If task B comes along, I'm expected to put aside my main task A and do it cuz its more important. And with my slow learning plus the spontaneous nature of these tasks, I don't have a lot of time for improving on that specific skill when I need to be just as fast with my other tasks as well..
    – hjh93
    Commented Dec 20, 2018 at 10:40
  • Read "willpower", it will help you understand why you should only tackle one new topic at a time: amazon.co.uk/Willpower-Why-Self-Control-Secret-Success/dp/…
    – user38290
    Commented Dec 20, 2018 at 18:00

I'll address the "I take too damn long to troubleshoot what is the problem and how to fix it" part first. The key is to include EXHIBITs in your programs; code that displays the names of key variables and their values -- particularly the input to and outputs from a function. This is an easy way to find problems quickly. (Natually, remove the EXHIBITs before you check in the code. The word EXHIBIT comes from a very old computer language.)

Your boss is probably aware that you are a low performer and has adjusted your salary increases (if any) according to expectations. So maybe you are productive enough compared with that.

One more option would be to figure out what parts of your job you are good at, and try to move over into doing more of that. You could talk to your boss about moving into a slightly different role.

Good luck.

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