This might be a very unique situation, but here are the details of my problem.

  • I was accepted as a front-end developer in startup with very good foundation.
  • During the course of my application, the "technical officer" who interviewed me at the time assessed my skills as "not very stellar" but that I had excellent communication skills.
  • The CTO and CEO liked me on my final interview and thus hired me.
  • There was too much pressure from peers and even the "technical officer." Whenever I would make a mistake the "technical officer" would coach me in front of everyone else, while for the others, he would talk to them privately.
  • I was part of the team that won the company's hackathon. CEO pats my back and tells me I have potential for leadership. Oh the pressure.
  • I decided to take a different career path, where I could be under someone else's leadership -- UX design. But after a long hiatus, I had a difficult time adjusting to the new demands.
  • I was assigned a big project which I failed to deliver in good quality. I was having a tough time at home and with personal issues (moving to a different apartment, relationship issues), and as a result, I couldn't deliver on time.
  • Now I'm assigned to a smaller, but new project, back as a coder, but was told that if there are any UX projects that need some help, I would be assigned to them to assist.
  • I asked the CEO personally for feedback and points of improvement and he told me that he appreciates me doing that. Now that I know what my mistakes are, how can I prove myself when I've been assigned to a totally different project and field?

Now I'm stuck. I feel bad but I also take responsibility for my sluggish delivery. I want to rectify this. I'm planning to email my UX lead and let her know that it's important for me for them to know that I was taking the job seriously but that I had a hard time with it. And that I want to be better. Will asking for direction and help sound needy? How should I approach this?

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    OP, can you edit the question to clarify the question? As it is now, it reads like a rambly tale of your employment history, and it's not clear what specific question needs to be answered. – shoover Apr 6 '16 at 15:09
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    I wouldn't necessarily be so quick to take all the blame here. Expectations at startups can be unrealistic. It's possible you were rated as having great communication skills because you don't push back on expectations you know in advance you can't meet. – Amy Blankenship Apr 6 '16 at 15:25
  • You don't need feedback from your bosses, you outlined the problem already. You let your personal life impact on your work. – Kilisi Apr 6 '16 at 20:22
  • @Kilisi I'm aware of that. But the question is, what do I do to approach the situation and alleviate things? – Ellesa Apr 6 '16 at 23:39
  • Sounds like you need to ask your boss what you asked the CEO. Next, you need to not care if your "technical officer" is "coaching" you publicly, and others privately. If you're all about self-improvement, and he's all about embarrassing you, you still get to choose self-improvement over embarrassment. People can't push buttons that aren't there, and you're the one who decides what buttons you're going to make available for others to push. – BobRodes Apr 7 '16 at 4:18

You did the first and most important step in proving yourself: Accepting responsibility. Take as "lessons learned" the fact that in the future, you need to ask for help earlier. Don't repeat your mistake by thinking that in order to prove yourself, you need to do it alone. Nobody does that.

Instead of thinking of it in terms of asking for help, reframe your references to think of it as collaboration. Wouldn't you be willing to help a coworker if he or she asked?

Your project and field may be different, but the way you act and the way people see you are still governed by the same principles. Be humble, ask for help when you need it, offer it when you can, and be collaborative in all of your work.

What your company is going to do now is watch how you act in your new position. Be mindful of your past mistakes, but don't be restricted by them. You earned HUGE points with the CEO by approaching him. Most people wouldn't do that.

The best way to prove yourself from this point on is to stop trying to prove yourself. Learn from your mistakes, put your nose to the grindstone, and do your job. You'll prove yourself by doing your work and doing well despite what happened to you. Your CEO probably sees your failure as part of the cost of doing business, which means he is very wise. You would do well as to look at it as "on the job training". Learn from it, move on. You're still employed with them, so they see potential. Develop that potential and you'll be fine.

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  • "Put your nose to the grindstone and do your job." I like how that sounds. My next concern is, I'm always anxious about how my co-workers think of my performance. – Ellesa Apr 6 '16 at 16:33
  • @Kaze I've been there. Ignore those feelings, they're irrelevant. I don't mean this to be offensive, but nobody really cares. Most people are far too absorbed with their own problems to give a damn about anyone else. The only time anyone really cares is when you are outperforming them. – Old_Lamplighter Apr 6 '16 at 17:09
  • @RichardU Cynic. :) – BobRodes Apr 7 '16 at 4:19
  • @BobRodes Yep, my back has sprouted daggers far too many times. – Old_Lamplighter Apr 7 '16 at 12:08

I was assigned a big project which I failed to deliver in good quality. I was having a tough time at home and with personal issues (moving to a different apartment, relationship issues), and as a result, I couldn't deliver on time.

This is one area where you may need significant improvement. Personal issues are not generally good excuses for performance drops unless they are of the level of just got diagnosed with cancer or death in the family. Moving and relationship issues doesn't even come close. So first, you need to learn to compartmentalize and stop letting home life interfere with office.

If the problem was that you were working fine during normal work hours but couldn't find the time to put in extra to get the deadline done, then that is something you should have brought up as soon as possible, that due to your move, you didn't have the hours available outside of the core work hours and they should have adjusted the plan accordingly. If you let these issues affect your work during the core hours, you need to stop that entirely. Leave personal problems at home as much as possible.

If it is not possible (see the types of reasons that might not make it impossible for work to not be affected) you need to coordinate with your boss as soon as possible and work out a plan. When my mother was diagnosed with terminal cancer, the first thing I did after hanging up the phone when they told me was to to got my boss and tell him and work out a plan so I could travel home every weekend as long as need be and still get my work done. We also planned for who would pick up my work when I took bereavement leave and I made sure that person was always up-to-date on what might need to be done in case I left suddenly. When my beloved died, I worked with my boss to rearrange and ease my work responsibilities temporarily knowing that I was not a full speed for several months. This is the responsible way to handle personal problems that could affect your performance.

Further, there is no indication here as to what you did to mitigate the deadline being missed. Even if it is cause by personal problems and not work-related issues, the company deserves to know that it is happening and why. Did you tell them as soon as you knew there was a problem or did you wait until it was already too late. If they know in time, they can rearrange the schedule or assign someone to help. If they don't know, then everybody looks bad all around when the deadline is missed. Many people think they will be able to just work more hours to avoid telling anyone the deadline is not going to be met. This is just wishful thinking and is something you need to nip in the bud if you did this.

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  • "Many people think they will be able to just work more hours to avoid telling anyone the deadline is not going to be met." -- I think this is what happened with me, though at the time I wasn't aware that this was the problem. I didn't want to look bad. – Ellesa Apr 6 '16 at 23:36

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