So I have been employed with my current company for about 6 months or so as a software engineer. This company is a Silicon Valley type technology company of a modest size.

Unfortunately, I ended up resentful from the level they brought me in as, so in many ways the resentment started almost from the very beginning when I found out what their levels actually mean. I was brought in at a level that was way below a level that actually corresponds with what I can do and used to do in previous environments. Basically a near junior level. I did not find about the nature of their leveling and how they choose to characterize people based on it until after I joined. It feels like a serious step back in my career and is pretty demeaning in reality.

I have not been rude or unprofessional to anybody. I have not caused any outages. I complete my deliverables. But I definitely have been very lazy, am only doing the bare minimum as of late, am not taking as much initiative, and am not being nearly as proactive nor am I really showing what I can actually do to others.

I would like to add that another part of this which precedes the laziness was starting on a team with a relatively inexperienced manager who chose to insult me from the beginning while refusing to provide specific feedback to improve after I had asked. Upon switching to a new team, the manager of the team and its lead chose to leave almost immediately, leaving a manager from another team who was forced to adopt it and an inexperienced team lead promoted to take place. Unfortunately, I understand that the context may not matter.

Given how much people talk about reputation, I’m concerned if the people here will start spreading rumors to other employers about how I’m a supposed ‘bare minimum’ kind of guy, and what will end up happening should I run into them again.

Ultimately, I want to know if I should tell my boss about my resentment or how I have been feeling to an extent so that he knows why he has not been getting my all. And so that an average or below average performance rating has some context to him rather than a perception of inadequacy. Would this be a good idea or am I not understanding this idea of reputation correctly to begin with and is it not even worth mentioning to anyone?

  • 12
    When did you stop giving your very best at work? You've only been at your new post for six months. I can understand someone throwing in the towel after a year or two but even after six months it seems premature.
    – Mari-Lou A
    Commented Oct 14, 2021 at 11:02
  • 3
    Is this your first job in the field? I felt the same about how I was treated at my first job, as my technical chops surpassed most of the veterans where I worked, but I made it my mission to SHOW them their impression of me was wrong, not sandbag them. Commented Oct 14, 2021 at 14:45
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    How much value have you brought to the company in the last 6 months for you to be able to feel "under appreciated"? What do you mean by "I’m not being treated relative to my experience"? People appreciate others based on what they've achieved and treat others according to the expertise they've demonstrated, not based on what's written on their CV. If you've been very lazy and you're only doing the bare minimum, then certainly how people treat you would reflect that.
    – NotThatGuy
    Commented Oct 14, 2021 at 18:12
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    You should edit that into the question. Commented Oct 15, 2021 at 8:22
  • 3
    @Mari-LouA: I can't speak for OP but it's not impossible to break someone's spirit in less than six months. Having worked many consultancy contracts in environments that had a severe staff shortage due to work conditions, I can attest to that.
    – Flater
    Commented Oct 15, 2021 at 14:11

9 Answers 9


Would this be a good idea or am I not understanding this idea of reputation correctly to begin with and is it not even worth mentioning to anyone?

You don't seem to be understanding what would happen to your reputation if you talk about why you are behaving the way you are.

You would simply go from "Underperformer" to "Intentional Underperformer".

From the point of view of many hiring managers, the latter is worse. I can work to help an underperformer who is trying hard. But if someone wants to hold their breath and underperform intentionally when they claim they are capable of better, I would never want to work with them again.

If you don't like your job, find a new one and leave. Don't sabotage your reputation. Jobs can be fleeting, but your professional reputation persists.

  • 2
    This is the correct answer. And, others may not consider you an underperformer. Verbally criticizing yourself to others is self-destructive. Don't do it. And, your boss is not your therapist.
    – wberry
    Commented Oct 18, 2021 at 0:14
  • Thank you for your answer. I have edited my question per Jon Bentley’s suggestion to do so after I had made comments about context. The answer above may still stand, however please take a look again. Commented Oct 19, 2021 at 5:13

I want to know if I should tell my boss about my resentment or how I have been feeling

Yes. If you don't tell anyone these things, then other people's perception of you will be based solely on what they can see from the outside (not applying effort, underachieving, etc.). Nobody can read minds.

When you approach your boss, be respectful and non-aggressive, but honest. Try to find out why things aren't going the way you'd hoped.

This is speculating, but there are probably reasons that the business isn't treating you the way you feel you ought to be. Maybe they don't give big, important projects to new employees, regardless of prior experience. You've only been there 6 months, after all. I don't know what's happening to make you feel demeaned or why it's otherwise not a very good environment, but these are all things you should absolutely take to your boss so that you can both reach a shared understanding. I think that if you approach this not from a mindset that you've been deliberately wronged, but from one that seeks to understand the situation in order to make it better, you'll succeed one way or another.


Joe Strazzere's answer makes a good point; you don't want to tell your boss that you've been deliberately underperforming, because frankly this is bad behaviour and will most likely cause a lack of trust. If anything I'd say that you've found it hard to get motivated.

  • 7
    Resentment is destructive, it's a personal problem and it's something one should discuss with a therapist, not one's boss (assuming you don't just remove yourself from the situation, which can sometimes be a good solution too). If I have an underperforming subordinate, I'd be generally optimistic about their ability to start performing well. But if they're resentful, then I'd suspect it's a lost cause. Mentioning some specific issues with how others treat you can be constructive, but mentioning resentment itself seems likely to do more harm than good.
    – NotThatGuy
    Commented Oct 14, 2021 at 18:20
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    I disagree. Don't share resentment with a boss. Instead, try to address the situations and issues that are causing the resentment. Use feelings as information to lead to a productive answer, don't use them to justify poor actions or as a pry-bar to try to get other people to change.
    – CodeSeeker
    Commented Oct 15, 2021 at 17:34
  • 1
    Although I agree that communication is important, I can't see a way to tell one's boss "I feel resentful and that's why I've intentionally been doing minimum effort for the past six months" and hope for good things to happen next. It can be good to mention specific facts and talk about things that can be improved, but personal feelings should be shared with a therapist, not with a boss.
    – Stef
    Commented Oct 16, 2021 at 19:16
  • Thank you for your answer. I have edited my question per Jon Bentley’s suggestion to do so after I had made comments about context. The answer above may still stand, however please take a look again. Commented Oct 19, 2021 at 5:13

I would go against the grain a bit here. I have been in your place. Firstly, do not tell your boss how you feel - keep your feelings out of the workplace. Your feelings are valid but they will only harm you when expressed inside the workplace. You can tell your boss what you have done and how the firm can treat you better - if he refuses then you owe it to yourself to find a new, fulfilling job.

The fact that you are not delivering a 100% of your potential is also fine to me- why can't employee effort exist as a function of reward? If you get rewarded more you work more, simple. However again, revealing this strategy to the management is going to backfire. So no point discussing.

TLDR: Do not discuss feelings. Discuss strategies, solutions, negotiations.

EDIT: Perhaps I should elaborate on one of the reasons I say do not discuss feelings. Your boss is another human being and has a very different perception of reality than you. Say you go to him and say "I'm not treated well and therefore I am unmotivated." Any of the following is a plausible reaction from his side:

  1. I wonder why my employee says he is not treated well. I have suffered much worse and I did just fine. The other team has it much worse than us. Perhaps this employee is entitled.

  2. I wonder why this employee is unmotivated, the company treats him/her they way it treats everyone else. He ought to work hard, that's how I made it to the top. Is he/she just too fragile? I wonder if they can handle a leadership position.

You don't want your manager to be thinking that, whether they are right or wrong. Instead, provide factual feedback, something you can back up and they can't contest.

  • 1
    The converse actually does not mean what I said is false. And I don't disagree with you either. Can go both ways at the same time too. BTW, I had worked my backside off and after every cycle the management had a barrage of excuses as to why I would not be paid/promoted on merit.
    – user121416
    Commented Oct 14, 2021 at 14:12
  • 4
    Don't know why this was downvoted. There's no point in discussing your feelings with your boss. My boss would tell me to go see a therapist if I ever told him how much my work makes me depressed. And he'll be right
    – Doliprane
    Commented Oct 14, 2021 at 14:43
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    @DWGKNZ I would rather always explain cold facts rather than feelings/perceptions, because everyone reacts differently. And explaining feelings is something to consider when you and the firm are committed to a long term, mutually beneficial relationship - when the firm is benovelent to you. That's 99% not the case. Even without context, "leave your feelings out of the workplace" is my advice, because the firm and the management sure don't feel a lot for you.
    – user121416
    Commented Oct 14, 2021 at 15:52
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    @JoeStrazzere Which makes you wonder why people say "Here we have a firm that treats me like shit. Why don't I work my backside off so the it rewards me?". OP is in a lose lose situation where the best option for him is to leave - it has the benefits of being true to your potential and having self respect.
    – user121416
    Commented Oct 14, 2021 at 15:58
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    @DWGKNZ What you've said sounds reasonable. The difference seems to come in what is actually stated to the employer. This might be okay: "I really want to do well in my job, and there are some situations that are causing me to feel demotivated which is making that harder. Do you mind giving me advice on how to improve those situations so I can recover my motivation?" But going any deeper into feelings is not an effective strategy, in my opinion. The point is not to "express your feelings." That is NOT the goal, at all. Feelings are just one element to assess for solving the whole situation.
    – CodeSeeker
    Commented Oct 15, 2021 at 22:56

What you are describing is engagement, or in your case disengagement. It's essentially a disintegration of the relationship between an employee and the organization. You do not offer a lot of context on the organization, and how your colleagues act, behave and feel so it's hard to understand if it's a wider cultural issue within your team, department or company. I'll assume it's isolated to you primarily and that your colleagues are engaged in their roles.

You need to speak to your manager rather than bottle up what you are feeling and leave with resentment. Employment is a two way street, employers need to offer more than a paycheck and most realize this. You are perfectly entitled to raise your points and expect them to be understood and if necessary addressed. Just ensure that when addressing them that you remain as calm as possible and are phrasing things as objective, non-judgmental and factual as possible.

It's very likely that your manager has noticed a drop in your performance and will be building his own explanation in his head. You need to get out in front of this if you want the relationship to be repaired or at least remain neutral. 6 months is a fair amount of time to assess a company, and can be explained to future employers if you do decide to move on. You'll need to have a script prepared that does not show any of your resentment but it is simple as "I worked at X for 6 months but ultimately I found that culturally it wasn't a good fit for me and left on good terms."

I do not know if the organization does engagement surveys such as Gallup's Q12, but it is a good place to understand what contributes to good employee engagement. Reading the 12 questions below might help you understand what you're currently missing in this role and what you should be addressing in a conversation with your manager.

  1. Do you know what is expected of you at work?
  2. Do you have the materials and equipment to do your work right?
  3. At work, do you have the opportunity to do what you do best every day?
  4. In the last seven days, have you received recognition or praise for doing good work?
  5. Does your supervisor, or someone at work, seem to care about you as a person?
  6. Is there someone at work who encourages your development?
  7. At work, do your opinions seem to count?
  8. Does the mission/purpose of your company make you feel your job is important?
  9. Are your associates (fellow employees) committed to doing quality work?
  10. Do you have a best friend at work?
  11. In the last six months, has someone at work talked to you about your progress?
  12. In the last year, have you had opportunities to learn and grow?

I've been in a similar position as you where a new manager came in with a significant direction change for the team. We were like chalk and cheese and my performance dropped. I had been a consistent high performer who was leading the delivery of a number of innovative pieces of work. Under the new manager these pieces of work were deemed secondary to other shinier but less tangible pieces. Our approach with contractors were significantly different and relationships I'd developed over 18 months were suddenly contentious. It killed my motivation and I got to the point where I was definitely underperforming. After a number of talks it was clear that things weren't going to improve and I ended up leaving the organization. It has come up in subsequent interviews (small industry) but I've explained what happened and it hasn't impacted me going forward. The manager asked me to come back on contract shortly after our "I don't think we can work together chat" though!

  • Thank you for your answer. I have edited my question per Jon Bentley’s suggestion to do so after I had made comments about context. The answer above may still stand, however please take a look again. Commented Oct 19, 2021 at 5:13

Most often, your reputation will depend on your contribution, so improving the latter will improve the former. Having said that, it takes a long really concerted effort to cause industry-wide reputational damage; most often it will merely be local - which is easier to manage by either improving the work ethic or moving on, thus allowing the problem to fizzle out.

Concentrate on improving your work ethic - instead of explaining away your lack of contribution. Sadly, no one will care about the underlying reasons; you will merely be viewed as lazy AND a whiner. You will demonstrate to your boss that you know you are underperforming - and that you don't intend to improve at all. That cannot end well for you.

The below doesn't really address your question, but here goes:

You do seem to be in a bit of a hole at the moment - and it can quite often be difficult to escape. The couple of times I've been there, baby steps turned out to be the way - not grand promises of 'Come Monday, I'll go in with a completely transformed attitude'.

It takes time to leave the bad cycle and turn it into a good one - but it can be done and takes weeks rather than days. If at all possible, find some tasks that you usually like(d) doing and cut out distractions (cell phone, social media). If possible, volunteer for new tasks among people where your reputation hasn't yet been compromised.

Don't expect a quick turn-around; in fact - try to not think about your mental state. Hopefully, things will begin to improve.

  • Thank you for your answer. I have edited my question per Jon Bentley’s suggestion to do so after I had made comments about context. The answer above may still stand, however please take a look again. Commented Oct 19, 2021 at 5:13
  • @AlbertoBalsalm: I have merely added that you (probably) need not worry about gaining a bad industry-wide reputation, as that most often requires a long sequence of sub-par employments
    – morsor
    Commented Oct 19, 2021 at 5:25

You have maneuvered yourself into a difficult position - you felt underappreciated, so you did everything to give people a reason not to appreciate you, and now you basically want to tell your manager that you would have performed better if only people had appreciated you more.

Instead, you should have talked to him when the issue first arose. At this point in time, your manager might take you a lot less seriously.

You still need to talk to your manager. A good manager will work with you, partly to ensure your own wellbeing, but mostly to extract as much value from you as possible, and if the way to do this is to accomodate some reasonable request when it comes to work environment, he will do so (at least if your refrain from phrasing this as "I resent my workplace").

Reputation might be a thing, but more important are practical concerns - your manager will care about reasons for mediocre performance only to the extent that they can be remedied with reasonable effort. Talking to him just to tell him that you somehow could do better if only circumstances weren't against you is going to accomplish nothing (because talk is cheap and you didn't give any proof). You need to offer him something (which as per your post you do not plan on doing, which is a position you should reconsider). You are not going to get a better performance rating based you some potential you have so far hidden from your employer.

So, talk to your manager if you plan to change something (come prepared with actionable items, and start showing more than minimal effort in the weeks before the meeting). If not, save yourself and him the trouble. And next time, do not wait six months before you talk about your work problems, the sooner you address them, the sooner they can be fixed.

  • Thank you for your answer. I have edited my question per Jon Bentley’s suggestion to do so after I had made comments about context. The answer above may still stand, however please take a look again. Commented Oct 19, 2021 at 5:14

"Simmering feelings like this one" are pure poison. You need to ask to speak to your manager, go into his or her office and close the door. (That's why the door is there.) Then, very frankly say to him or her exactly what you just said to us here.

First, your manager is going to listen. Then, s/he might ask to think about it for a while. Then, s/he is going to tell you things that you won't like to hear. S/He is going to give you a completely different interpretation from what you, in your present self-centered and self-absorbed state, never allowed yourself to consider. But, it will be very-blunt statements that you must accept and even take to heart.

  • 100% agreement that such feelings are pure poison. However, I'd encourage anyone to avoid talking about feelings with a manager and try to talk about the problems and the necessary solutions. But I do like your part about asking for frank feedback and expecting to be surprised by the feedback. The key is to step outside of the self-centered view and to try to look at the situation from the outside, more objectively. Feelings should never be dismissed, they should be *acted on*—although sometimes the action is to decide not to act, or to act later, or to work on changing the feelings.
    – CodeSeeker
    Commented Oct 15, 2021 at 17:47
  • Thank you for your answer. I have edited my question per Jon Bentley’s suggestion to do so after I had made comments about context. The answer above may still stand, however please take a look again. Commented Oct 19, 2021 at 5:14

1. There isn't a problem with your performance, don't create one.

  1. do not tell anyone you're lazy, under-performing, or bare-minimum. That will only make demeaning or under-appreciating behavior worse, and perhaps even start the rumor that you were afraid of, of you doing the bare minimum. If you were being treated less than your experience called for at first, spreading this information about yourself would only make it worse.

2. You are giving it your all, don't believe otherwise. Imposter Syndrome.

  • Given your surroundings and treatment by others, your current output is the best you can do under the circumstances. There's little you can do about how others treat you, especially because you're new.

3. Correct untrue statements, clarify vague assumptions

  • If someone says something untrue about you, provide the correct information. If someone says something vague and general about you, ask them for specific evidence, times, and places that the behavior happened. Even if someone says something partially true, or distorts the truth, provide the rest of the truth.

4. consider a SHORT INTERVIEW PROCESS somewhere else

  • if they ask why you're looking, you can say your current company has an unhealthy environment and you know the new company has a healthy environment.
  • limit the amount of interviews you do,
  • don't feel pressured to respond to every recruiter that bombards your phone, your time is valuable and belongs to you, not them.
  • "Given the surroundings and treatment by others" yes. Commented Oct 16, 2021 at 23:14
  • Thank you for your answer. I have edited my question per Jon Bentley’s suggestion to do so after I had made comments about context. The answer above may still stand, however please take a look again. Commented Oct 19, 2021 at 5:14
  • Thanks @AlbertoBalsalm for the added context. In the long term this season of laziness won't matter to future employers. Everyone goes through highs and lows in their career, and it's illegal for companies to spread rumors about you to future employers (in USA at least). I'd just stick it out, be content, if the bare minimum is all you have, just keep at it. I don't think your boss is as concerned about your performance as you might think, since he hasn't given you any warnings about it. Commented Oct 19, 2021 at 18:49

Look realistic on yourself

You say

I feel demeaned, under appreciated

But then you say, your biggest achievement is not causing any outage. So what achievement you expect to be appreciated for.

You say

I’m not being treated relative to my experience

But apparently, you have problem handling junior tasks. So what treatment relative to your experience you are expecting? Moving you to the reception?

Private company is not a public administration. Years of sitting behind the desk doesn't count. Only skills counts as experience, not years.

  • Thank you for your answer. I have edited my question per Jon Bentley’s suggestion to do so after I had made comments about context. The answer above may still stand, however please take a look again. Commented Oct 19, 2021 at 5:14

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