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I work as an administrative assistant/receptionist at a Mental Health office. This is my first "real" job even though I'm 28, and I've been here for about 7 months now.

For awhile I felt like I was doing very good. In the beginning sure I was new, but after a bit my boss and I seemed to be on the same page and she said she was very proud with how much I have improved. About 2 months later now, after even applying for another job within the same company, all of that seems to have changed. I feel like I'm making mistakes and I don't feel as reliable. She told me that before I applied for the new job and in the beginning, she thought I just didn't care based on how I answered things.

No one has ever told me that before though so I'm not sure if it's true or not. Sometimes I'll answer questions with a simple "no" whether or not I did something. I'm just trying to be honest in my answers, so I only answer with that and give no excuses. Apparently that has come across as me not caring at times.

I'm feeling bogged down and upset about this. I want to succeed, I want to be reliable, and I don't want to be considered a weak link who doesn't care about his job. I do like my job honestly, but it's not what I want to do forever, so maybe at times that shows.

Any advice how I can turn this situation around?

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  • It's perfectly valid to answer with simple yes and no in job interviews, and wait for further questions before volunteering more information. So I don't think that this in itself would be a problem. – numenor May 25 at 20:40
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    If you had been asked (or expected) to do something and hadn't done it, the answer shouldn't be "no", it should be "sorry". – Philip Kendall May 25 at 20:42
  • @numenor - I am not sure I agree; If asked a question during an interview, that cannot be answered with a simple "yes" or "no" answer, you should probably, answer the question with more than a single word. It sounds like the author should work on their communication skills, their supervisor, is the best person to provide specific feedback on what they need to work on specifically. – Donald May 25 at 20:45
  • @PhilipKendall I think it was just certain times when I said just a simple "no." I like to think I'm empathetic and know that a sorry is good, I just don't want to say sorry and not do anything about it. I always try to correct my mistakes. – Adam May 25 at 20:53
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    @Adam, That is the good news. She is willing to help you, and you are willing to improve. Keep trying and you will get better. Good luck. :-) – Job_September_2020 May 25 at 21:12
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Sometimes I'll answer questions with a simple "no" whether or not I did something.

I'm sure this is not your only issue, but it's one worth addressing. When you're behind on something (and I assume this is addressing a question where the person assumed you were expected to have completed it already), it's best to do a few things.

  1. Apologize. If you haven't done something, a brief apology "owns" it. "Sorry, I haven't been able to complete that yet."
  2. Set expectations. Tell the person you're answering what they should expect. Give them a reasonable answer here - "I'll do it right away" is okay, but it's not necessary. You should give them as specific a time as possible. "I can get that to you by 2pm tomorrow". "I'll focus on that this afternoon."
  3. Plan for the future, both in your immediate conversation and after, as this indicates this particular tasks needs to be planned for. "I'll make sure this is done by Tuesday Evening every week from here on out." That shows the other person that you care about their needs, and are taking care of them.

Beyond there - I would talk to your supervisor and get specific, actionable feedback. Tell them you want to improve, and ask for what specifically you can do. Things like "Pay more attention" or "Care more" isn't what we're looking for - we're looking for things like "Get the accounts receivable receipts filed within 24 hours" and "Maintain at least 4/5 average customer service rating in at least 5 surveys per week". Supervisors like giving you specific, actionable things to improve - and it makes it really easy for you to show improvement, as you can focus on those areas. Then, in a month or two or however long makes sense, have another meeting, and if you've met or exceeded those expectations, you can set new ones. Normally you'd have this sort of meeting once a year (your "annual review"), but if you're falling behind, get on top of it before that happens.

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  • Thank you Joe. I'll try and schedule another meeting for tomorrow. – Adam May 25 at 21:04
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All the first, you need to think if it is really your performance, if yes, try your best to improve it, otherwise you would leave a bad impression, and broadcast to your new boss, you need to take very care of that.

Maybe next time before you apply for another position, especially in the same company, you should talk with you boss first.

Dealing with the relationship before and after is a very tricky part at the moment, there would be a lot thinking from your boss. But this would be case by case from people. You need to estimate your boss's character before you have further action.

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