Recently I had a conversation with my supervisor, where I asked about my development. My initial performance when I came to the department a few years ago was not as high as we both would have hoped for and it seemed that I was more or less unwanted by several colleagues. After spending a lot of energy in improving my communication and main work skills, everything got much better, so I wanted to know if he thinks there is a direction in which I need to develop faster.

His response was that "frighteningly", I have developed in all directions and spectacularly fast. He was satisfied but advised me to start specializing in one direction.

What could he mean with "frighteningly"? I asked about it and got no real answer. Could it just have been a figure of speech (he was driving at the time and might have been less concentrated)? Or could he be afraid that I will leave the company if I keep on developing without a similar increase in responsibility? Surely, other colleagues would like to get promoted and it will destroy their morale if the new guy gets promoted within only a few years. The person in my position before me left the company most likely for similar reasons and this would justify such a fear. In this case, I suppose I am stuck at my current position unless I specialize.

Do these seem realistic? Is my manager trying to help me and show me the way up? Or am I just overthinking it?

EDIT: OK, I get it, I am over thinking it :-) But for me, there is a big difference between "you have progressed frighteningly fast" and "frighteningly, you have progressed very fast" which I understand as "I am afraid that you have progressed very fast". The word sequence (and his facial expression) showed that it was NOT meant to emphasize the word "fast". I accept my downvotes for asking an opinion-based question without even giving the exact German expression, but I am aware of the phrase "scarily/frighteningly/terrifyingly fast" and this is not what he said.

  • 3
    It was probably just a figure of speech, but it might help if you could remember his exact words. – Steve-O Jul 2 '17 at 17:12
  • Thank you for your answer. What I wrote was more or less the exact words. – FlatronL1917 Jul 2 '17 at 17:16
  • 2
    You are over thinking it. He just means you exceeded expectations. – Simon O'Doherty Jul 2 '17 at 17:33
  • This is a translation from German and you are asking about nuances. -1 – paparazzo Jul 3 '17 at 0:00
  • OP, this question belongs on ell.stackexchange.com. I urge you to ask there. – Fattie Jul 3 '17 at 0:07

Just a figure of speach. It was a compliment. But take his advice and really focus down on one thing and show you can knock it out of the park.

| improve this answer | |
  • Just for the record, it's not really a "figure of speech". It's a "word" :) You can look it up in the dictionary. There are many surprising words in English meaning "good" or "very good" - such as "dangerous" or "bad". – Fattie Jul 3 '17 at 0:09
  • By the way, OP, the next step that is even more good after "frighteningly", is "terrifyingly" :) – Fattie Jul 3 '17 at 0:12

Don't worry about it.

I had a similar situation when my workplace offered to pay for any IT certification exams that staff passed and got lumped with a huge bill from me when I sat and passed 5 exams in a couple of weeks.

He wants you to focus on one field, but that doesn't mean you have to, if you're happy progressing in multiple directions, then do so, you may not be working there forever, and broad quality knowledge is a huge asset in the future.

| improve this answer | |
  • You have a demented sense of logic. This answer does nothing to address the word "frighteningly". NO evidence specialize is based on cost. You intentionally saddled your employer with a huge bill without asking in advance? – paparazzo Jul 3 '17 at 0:07
  • @Paparazzi they offered the deal to all staff, I didn't have to ask for anything, I just took the offer at face value. I'd do it again without hesitation, a persons career should be their primary focus. – Kilisi Jul 3 '17 at 19:28

As you write you have been unwanted, it may be that these several colleagues are running "fear, uncertainty and doubt" (FUD) campaign behind your back, something kind of "he is progressing too fast but we cannot trust him so must stop him, somebody must be in charge to control him, we must set limits to him, otherwise we may lose the control over something vital. He develops software too fast, we do not have enough control over this [because we are kind of architects here yet do not write any specs, and he is our competitor].".

To counter-act, demonstrate as much as possible that you are the reliable team player (who cares about specifications, asks details about requirements, responds properly to bug reports, accepts criticism, able to share the task and not just do it all alone, readily makes tiny adjustments in response to the code review, nice person during the lunch break, etc, etc).

Experienced managers are immune against psychological manipulations, so the chances of this attack succeeding are low. For the young manager who is running his first startup this, however, may work so stay careful and follow recommendations above.

| improve this answer | |

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