I recently acquired an entry-level position at an in-store Starbucks at a Target. The first several weeks of the job were training, which I have now completed. A couple days ago, I had my first real shift and I made a fairly large number of mistakes, especially with respect to store closing procedures. Some of the procedures I have trouble with because (I think) I haven't been trained on them, while others I just did wrong (despite having previously been instructed how to do the task, I would misremember or fail to remember the instructions, and either do the task incorrectly or have to ask my manager how to do the task). Because of the nature of our work, some of my mistakes resulted in losses of product and thus a fairly significantly increased overhead (I spilled our months' supply of decaf beans all over the floor). Additionally, even the tasks I do complete take much longer than the time allotted for them, and I do not expect to meet my manager's expectations for speed any time in the near future.

What should I do in this situation?

As I see it, my options currently are:

  • Try to transfer (i.e. get a job at via the normal hiring process) to a real Starbucks, citing my currently active Starbucks Barista certification (which should save them ~1-2 weeks of training), hoping that the additional training on how to open and close shop will make up for my apparent ineptitude. I worry, however, that 1) my current company will lose out on the investment they made in training time, which will make them more reluctant to hire other persons in my situation in the future, and 2) the place I apply to may wonder why I am choosing to leave a job after such a short time and/or receive bad info from my manager causing me to lose both jobs.

  • Continue on at the current job, assuming the expectations that are stated are not the actual quality expectations, and my inept performance is acceptable. I worry, however, that 1) remaining in a position I am not qualified for, even if my employer tacitly assents, may be unethical (I'm not sure), and 2) I will get fired

  • Quit my job, explaining that I do not think I meet their personell standards for the position, and go back to job hunting. I worry, however, that 1) I will not find another job, as it took me over a year of hunting to get this one, and 2) My housing situation, which is conditional upon my employment, will result in me becoming homeless, further decreasing my chances of landing another job and significantly lowering my standard of living.

  • 7
    All of these options are about leaving. What about your options where you stay? Ask your manager for extra training. Bring your training manuals home and study them. Ask if you can stay behind on your own time, or start earlier, to practice and drill the tasks bit by bit. Set realistic goals for improvement, by day or by week. Make friends with your coworkers and management and be helpful so they want you around. Use checklists to avoid forgetting things. Commented Oct 27, 2015 at 23:34
  • this might sound negative, but if two weeks training isn't enough that you can avoid spilling the beans you might be in the wrong industry altogether
    – Kilisi
    Commented Oct 28, 2015 at 1:05
  • 1
    @Kilisi It's cool, that's part of what I wanted to check. It seems like that opinion is strongly in the minority though. Commented Oct 28, 2015 at 5:38
  • 3
    Did anyone complain about your mistakes so far? Also, the fact that you recognized your mistakes presumably means you are fixing them, making correcttions after noticing the mistake, improving your attention to detail, etc. Is this true? To me, "incompetent" implies making mistakes without ability to recognize what's wrong. For example, if you spill the supplies once because you were carrying too many things at once, this may be unfortunate but excusable. However, if you keep on repeating the same mistake and spilling things all the time, that is a problem.
    – Brandin
    Commented Oct 28, 2015 at 14:42
  • 1
    You are still wet behind the ears - Most (if not all) managers are expecting new recruits to make mistakes. In a couple of weeks time you will not be fretting at all.
    – Ed Heal
    Commented Oct 28, 2015 at 18:29

4 Answers 4


(This is my comment expanded as a full answer because thedarkwanderer suggested it. It's almost a duplicate of HorusKol's answer, but I think it's different enough to count).

tl;dr version: The job requires skills, skills are learnable. Consider seriously trying to learn them before deciding whether to quit or transfer.

I see in your question that all the options you list are negative - transfer, quit or stay incompetent. You haven't listed "become competent" as an option, but it is an option [1]. The other answers so far are telling you not to quit, that it's too early to worry - which is fine as far as it goes - but none have clearly said "determine what skills you need to become competent, set out a plan to develop those skills one by one, act on it like your job depends on it, and become competent".

Your exact options depend on who you can ask, what time and resources you have available, and how determined you are to do whatever it takes to become competent, no matter how much it seems unfair/silly/over the top. Maybe you can:

  • Ask your manager for extra training.
  • Ask if you can shadow someone else being trained, so you can review as well.
  • Bring any training manuals / instructions home and study them using any study method (writing them out by hand, flashcards, etc).
  • Ask if you can stay behind on your own time, or start earlier, to practice and drill the tasks bit by bit. Or if you can work longer hours to get more practise in.
  • Ask if you can swap tasks around with coworkers for a few days/weeks so you can get better at one particular one - e.g. if you can always do the setup and cleanup of a particular machine for a while.
  • Setup some training scenario at home to run through, using props, so you can rehearse what's involved in a job task away from the stress and noise of customers, coworkers, your manager watching.
  • Find some books/YouTube videos on 'how to do x well', for anything appropriate to your job. Study them, try to identify what's in their approach that differs from yours.
  • Record yourself doing a task at work, then watch it back in private and see if anything stands out, like "oh! I didn't realise I was doing that!". Idea taken from the way sports people record their and review them.
  • Do unrelated things which might indirectly help. You spilled a month's worth of beans, whoops, but how often do you (lift a large container in a confined space) (or whatever) in your daily life? Get a similar size and weight of container and drill yourself moving it around. Maybe exercises to build coordination.
  • Use checklists to avoid forgetting things. Checklists and procedures exist because people make mistakes. Checklists help NASA get into space, help surgeons avoid mistakes in patient care, and they help people remember shopping items. Grab any helpful idea from any other walk of life and bring it into play.

You might find that if your manager is complaining and your job is imminently at risk, that they're much more willing to give you more time and work with you if they see you working on improving with a clear plan and goals, than if you just say "I'll try to do better".

Another not-negative option you could have included is:

  • Make friends with your coworkers and management, so they want you around, become good at some other part of the job. It's not just about being the best at the job or else you're incompetent - everyone has a range of skills. If people want you around because customers love you, or you always sell more, or you're most willing to do cleanup, or work odd hours, they'll be less bothered about some mistakes in other areas.

[1] If they chose you, hired you, and trained you without firing you, it seems likely that you have plenty of physical and mental abilities to do the job.


A couple of days after completing initial training is not long enough to be worrying about this.

But, if you are worried about forgetting steps in procedures, start coming up with ways to help remember them - write it in a checklist or, for simpler things, make up a little song or story and act it out.

In any event - practice makes perfect, and you will get better. I would just focus on each task as you do it. Your boss will let you know if he is concerned or not, and you don't need to worry about that until he says something.

And to put the emphasis on @panoptical's answer: do not quit or jump

  • 1
    +1 for checklist. There may already be one. If there isn't, explain to the manager that you need one and ask him to go over the steps with you, creating one. Then use it. Commented Oct 27, 2015 at 23:29
  • 3
    So, I made a checklist and took the training manuals home, and now my manager is complaining that I'm working too hard XD; That's a better kind of complaint, though, so I think your 'worrying too much' thing was pretty spot on. Apparently closing is normally a two-to-three-person thing, but they put new people on it by themselves so... they can learn to deal with being overwhelmed? Or something. In any case, I have been reassured that it actually wasn't a big deal and we're all good, so I'm not sure what the lesson here is ^^; Commented Oct 28, 2015 at 5:43

First and foremost, if your housing situation and well-being currently depends on you keeping your job, do not quit your job. Being homeless sucks, and makes job searching that much harder.

As for transferring, keep in mind that the manager of your Starbucks will likely know the manager(s) of the actual Starbucks's nearby, and could recommend that you not be hired by them. After all, to them it would seem like you're cutting and running, instead of owning up to your mistakes.

If you haven't already, you need to take and accept the responsibility for the mistakes that happened during your shift. It seems like you're already doing this, but you really need to work out what the consequences will be with your manager.

Overall, your manager should be the one who decides what will happen. It's very likely he/she won't be so drastic as to fire you (especially since this truly was your first rodeo), but could rather pair you with someone until your manager feels you are ready to accept a larger responsibility. For now, I'd try to work out a solution with your manager.

Lastly, and especially since this job is the only thing keeping you from homelessness at the moment, treat this job as precious as you can. While mistakes can and do happen, if your manager tells you that you need to step it up, try as much as possible to step it up and remember as much as possible about the procedures you need to do to fulfill orders, even when you're not on shift.


I have to echo other people's advice on not quitting unless you have a job lined up.

Thus far it sounds like your "incompetence" is only something you concluded yourself. I think you're overthinking this and putting yourself in more stressful situations by assuming things. You should just go with the flow so to speak and not worry about error/mistakes you make, especially if you never done such a thing before in your life.

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .