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I work for a company that makes a software product. This is my first real job. I started out on a team with a bit of a bad rep in the rest of the company. At first, I thought it was because of the, as the CEO calls it, island-mentality this team has. Turns out, the team was rather toxic and contributed heavily to my anxiety disorder. In hindsight, there were red flags from the beginning, including my colleague explaining to me basic concepts like SQL select statements.

I was a bit of a special case when I got hired by this company. I was the second person ever to be hired while still in university. I was the first female developer ever hired (not that strange, considering this company mainly hires from the only local university and there were no females in that program for a long time). I was the only person ever to start as a "trainee" instead of just a "developer". My contract was temporary. I can only guess as to the reasons why, I just know that this was decided by my manager. A few months short of a year in, after impressing the whole company with some work I did, my manager asked the CEO to promote me. I got a promotion to "developer" with a 30% pay raise, to the salary mentioned in the handbook as the starting salary for the "developer" role and the end date on my contract got removed (vast contract in Netherlands).

Not long after, I got assigned a personal project. The description of this project was 1 sentence long. It seemed exciting and challenging when I started it. I started gathering requirements, mapping out data (there were over 500 tables with some having over 400 fields), figuring out how APIs that I needed to use worked and documenting that (they had no documentation) and other steps needed to just figure out what to do. I reported my progress to my (non-technical) manager every week. Not long after, about two months after I got my promotion, I wrote the question linked above. At that time, I got a performance review too, during which the CEO told me he got the impression that I got haughty and my performance dropped since I got promoted. My manager said that was because I wasn't progressing as fast as expected on my project. My manager actually had no idea on the size of the project, it was my colleague who said how long it should take. The CEO offered to transfer me to a different team working with newer technologies, hoping that would spark my interest again. I accepted, wanting to get away from that team badly.

I had no clue where that all came from. Now I realise a few things, working for this new team.

  1. Team managers are supposed to provide requirements documents.
  2. The priority on my project had increased and upper management was asking my manager questions about it.
  3. I got in trouble for not having written any code yet, even though that made complete sense.

Seems like I took the fall for someone else's mistakes.

I've been on this new team for a few months now. My new manager is very happy with me, my anxiety is recovering, HR is aware of my colleague's behaviour towards me. It's going a lot better.

I am now wondering what to do with upper management thinking I'm haughty. I think the CEO may have realised to some extend what was going on (there are just 2 levels of management, so the CEO is my manager's manager and the company is small, about 60 people) and attempted to save me. He replaced me by a socially much stronger person, who took on my project and defended the code I ended up writing to the manager and the CEO.

TL;DR: Management seems to have gotten the impression that I'm haughty when I didn't do as much work as expected, when instead I was suffering from a toxic team and my work got underestimated.

How can I stop this impression from coming to haunt me later? I plan to stay with this company for a long time.

  • 2
    Could benefit from adding a TL;DR to the end due to the length of the post :) – Uciebila Mar 21 at 11:51
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I'll agree with @Keith's answer. Do the work, do it well, get along with your new team, and it will fix itself. I'll go beyond that, though. You're fresh out of school. People expect that new students may have some difficulty settling in to their new roles. If anything, demonstrating that you can be a solid worker for the new team, and not overly egotistical lets your leadership pat itself on the back for having helped develop you as an employee.

If you want to push things a bit further, and you're concerned for some reason that the CEO hasn't noticed that you've improved, thank him for giving you the transfer the next time you happen to see him. Don't imply anything bad about your old team (Really. Don't.) but say something like you feel like you fit in really well with your new team, really like your new boss, are feeling a lot more productive where you are... something like that. Pick something you can say honestly. After all, you do appreciate having been transferred. Just present it as being good things about where you ended up, and how well you're fitting there, rather than bad things about where you left.

It's not necessary. I'd lay odds that the CEO already knows. Still, expressing appreciation to your superiors when they do things that merit appreciation is almost never a bad idea.

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The best way to fix a bad reputation is to put your nose down and do your work, and do it well. Don't give anyone a reason to say anything bad about you. In time it will fix itself.

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I wouldn't worry about it. He's the CEO. He could have you out the door in a snap of his fingers if he wanted to. Instead, he found you a new team to work with, and clearly things are going better now.

If he was interested enough to help you improve your situation, he'll surely follow up with your boss to see how things are going now. So focus on doing great work and keeping your boss happy with your work, and the CEO will find out and realize you're a great employee who was just stuck in a bad situation earlier.

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