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I started a job with relevant experience but the business domain was completely new to me. I was told that it would take six months to a year to have a good grip on the domain.

My boss told me to take my time to complete a task as it was important that I understood it completely. He said if I needed two weeks that would be okay. I completed the task in one week, then my boss said that I needed to be quicker as I was paid more than my colleagues and it was expected that I would work faster.

I responded by saying that this contradicts the messages I was given and that it is making me very anxious and insecure and that I'm still getting to grips with my job, yet I can see clear improvement each week.

How should I react to this? Should I resign?

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    No you shouldn't resign, your boss might be trying to challenge you by holding you to a higher standard. From what you said, your boss never said that he expected you to take the full 2 weeks, or even 1 full week. He mentioned it would be okay if it took you 2 weeks. Technically, he never said what he expected. I wouldn't have told him that he was making me anxious and insecure, but just a simple "Boss, didn't you mention 2 weeks was okay on this task? Isn't 1 week good in terms of that?". No need to resign, or feel anxious and insecure. Your boss obviously thinks highly of you. – Prodnegel Mar 9 '17 at 0:53
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    @Prodnegel why not write that as an answer? – Kate Gregory Mar 9 '17 at 1:38
  • You should revise the end of your answer. You give background and ask a question, but is that really the best question to ask? – corsiKa Mar 9 '17 at 3:07
  • So what did your boss say? You're leaving out the most important part of the situation which makes this effectively unanswerable. – Lilienthal Mar 9 '17 at 9:45
  • @KateGregory, because I did not have time to think it over, but wanted to give my input. I feel John's answer is good enough though now. – Prodnegel Mar 9 '17 at 14:19
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Dealing with managers' quirks is part of the job

Part of almost every job in the world is dealing with managers and their occasional flaws. Maybe he gave you mixed messages, maybe he didn't; either way, your worth to the company is greater if you are able to work with him than if you are not. Frankly you should consider yourself lucky you have only one manager!

Sometimes they are testing you

I have actually witnessed some (pretty experienced) managers set a goal for an employee and then offer almost no support, and then wait and watch to see how the employee deals with it. She was testing this employee's proactivity, because she was considering him for a promotion. Sometimes they will throw a little crazy at you like that just to see how you perform.

If you are worried about your performance

Ask for regular feedback. Set a 30 minute meeting every other week and discuss how you're doing, and make sure that your work is in alignment with expectations. The feedback that your colleagues can do the same work in the same amount of time but for less pay-- treat that as valuable information, not as a criticism or insult.

Do you really feel over your head?

It is normal for competent people to feel incompetent at times (see Impostor syndrome). Tough it out. You might be surprised how things go.

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