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I have recently (3 months) joined a junior position, and am completely new to the corporate sector, hence, not very savvy in corporate communications. My official manager and work manager are different. My official manager once asked how's work going and I stupidly said, there's nothing assigned to me. My official manager had a chat with my work manager about why I wasn't assigned anything. Work manager said something to the effect of: 'Whatever work there is, he is not capable of doing it, hence He wasn't assigned anything'. I am not sure what I did to project that impression, and this has been eating me up since then.

Since then I have been assigned only a few trivial tasks and nothing tangible, or of value. How do I politely ask if this is because of something I did, that they think I am not capable enough, and to give me just one fair chance to prove myself.

Please help me out.

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    Why isn't "get a 1:1 and ask" the answer?
    – Aida Paul
    Commented Apr 21 at 12:13

4 Answers 4

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To answer your question, I don't think you necessarily should ask.

The issue I see is you are taking things too literally and personally, and worry about stuff that you think is an issue but actually isn't.

To be sure, this is typical novice communication mistake so don't be too hard on yourself -- we've all been there. You eventually learn that, more often than not, managers say things about their subordinates not because of something the subordinates said or did, but because of themselves -- to make excuses ("cover their butt"), rationalize judgments, and justify decisions. In other words, what they say about you says more about them than about you. This kind of insight and ability to 'read between the lines' comes with experience.*

To me it sounds like your manager simply gave their manager an excuse that popped into their had to justify not assigning much to you yet.

Your mistake was saying what you said and/or the way you said it to your official manager (even if it was true, which matters very little in corporate interpersonal communications).

Taking this to the level of 'why did you say X' with your manager is not going to earn you points. What will earn you points is hunkering down, focusing on doing good work with whatever little tasks are assigned to you, and (if there is absolutely nothing assigned) in a respectful, casual manner offering to your manager that if there's anything you could help with or learn about, you'd be happy to do so. Unless your direct manager mentions specific concerns to you directly, there is really no issue here, except the issue you make of this.

Until you feel like you are starting to get a hang of interpersonal communication in your corporate environment, try not to say too much to your official manager (or your work manager for that matter). Listen how others talk to them and learn. Good luck!

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    Thank you so much.
    – junfan02
    Commented Apr 22 at 19:31
  • Thank you for the vote and glad it helped. ;)
    – A.S
    Commented Apr 22 at 23:49
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Be proactive. Be your own advocate.

Ask for tasks. Also, ask others to help them with their tasks.

Comfort is gained through learning, repeatative tasks and put yourself in position to accept tasks.

Don't be afraid to ask questions. Choose your words. People new to the corporate world TEND to be uncomfortable or unsavy in how the word questions. If this isn't you - great, but from experience some new people may ask questions in a challenging way. That can be offputting to managers to the point that they assume a lack of skills. Fair - NO. Happens - Yes.

It is usually a low bar to turn the manager's opinion around for a new junior person. Make it less trouble for them to trust you as team member.

If you can find a mentor, that would be great.

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  • Thank you for the non-condescending response.
    – junfan02
    Commented Apr 22 at 3:26
  • @junfan02 You're welcome. Good luck.
    – DogBoy37
    Commented Apr 22 at 12:37
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"Hey, boss! How am I doing? What should I focus on? What do you need to see from me to justify my next raise or promotion?"

That's actually three distinct questions, but you want the answer to all three -- overall performance, near-term priorities, stretch goals.

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not very savvy in corporate communications.

Why not? It looks like you have got plenty of time on your hands, so you could spend some of this learning. It's not rocket science: read a book, take an online class, watch a few tutorials, etc.

he is not capable of doing it

Then find out what specific capabilities you may be lacking and start learning them. Be proactive, talk to your managers and ask for guidance how to get better and become more useful.

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