Skip to main content Skip to bottom nav

I'm worried I look incompetent at work, what can I do?

100 Answers
Last Updated: 04/08/2021 at 10:30pm
★ This question about Work Stress was starred by a moderator on 5/12/2016.
1 Tip to Feel Better
United States
Moderated by

Sarah Archer, LMFT

Marriage & Family Therapist

As a Licensed MFT I work with clients to more effectively address, process and learn skills to manage the problems that prevent them from living the life they want.

Top Rated Answers
June 3rd, 2015 1:01am
Be confident in yourself. Even if you feel you are not doing it wrong, be confident you have done everything right and you are the best at what you are doing.
June 13th, 2016 9:19pm
From a personal experience I decided to seek help from a co-worker that I trusted and asked for their opinion on certain things, if I was feeling down about my appearance I asked for some tips, if I felt that my work was lacking say on a project or being on a time crunch I looked for answers either by researching better ways to manage my time, to even asking for help and it is to ask help from someone, it not only helps them but helps you build the confidence for the future
September 18th, 2016 3:04pm
Sometimes it takes time to work at new skills, just take your time, and search more into it and practice makes perfect, I recently started the new job and now transfering to nights with new skills so take every step and day as it comes,
October 25th, 2016 8:43pm
Show that you're trying your best, maybe go out of your way to talk to other people at work and get to know them so you don't feel as worried that they see you badly.
November 16th, 2016 6:30pm
As much as your assessment of the situation may be true or not, what matters is here is what you want. Are you ok with your performance? if not, is there something you want to change in your performance? What would you like to change? You may spend time speculating about what others might be thinking and then worry about it, or, you may focus on your own assessment. And if you care about improving, you may ask your boss for feedback.
November 18th, 2016 11:47pm
You can make sure that you have regular scheduled reviews with your superiors/supervisors. That way you can get an honest, unbiased opinion of your performance and where you need to improve. Nobody is perfect, and odds are, if they haven't let you go then they are at least content with the work you do.
December 11th, 2016 5:07am
Make sure you have clear expectations set out for you at your work. If you are not sure what those are talk to your supervisor. If you are meeting those expectations then you can rest assured you are not incompetent.
March 3rd, 2017 7:51pm
Feeling that you seem incompetent is common at workplaces because of those surrounding you. Look at how others work but don't feel the need to copy the way the do things. When you see an opportunity to excel, do so. Its great if you challenge yourself sometimes
March 8th, 2017 1:31pm
Competence comes with practice and with awareness of what the job scope entails. Having a good talk with your boss to understand what are the things expected of you and what are the resources available to you is a good first step. Identifying courses and other resources you need, could be the next step. Diligence and self-motivation will do the rest.
March 19th, 2017 8:02pm
Just keep doing your best! You would not have been hired if you could not do your job competently and if you were being incompetent I am positive someone would have told you, and hopefully offered you support to do the job well. Try not to worry about being incompetent as if you give your mind over to worrying then your work may start to suffer. I know it's not easy but you got this :)
March 22nd, 2017 3:46am
Become knowledgeable about all areas of your field, make yourself heard, and above all try your best. You will get noticed :)
April 22nd, 2017 5:09pm
Do your best to not compare yourself to your co-workers, and try not to think you look incompetent. Focus on your work. Do it to the best of your ability. Ask a ton of questions - because asking questions doesn't mean you're incompetent, it's something (most) bosses like - it shows you have an interest in your work.
May 27th, 2017 4:25am
I completely understand where you are coming from! I feel that way a lot of the time and would struggle with certain aspects of my job, but it's likely that you're not the only one who feels that way at your work. We all bring different skills and weaknesses to the workplace (why else would they have hired such a great person as you if they didn't think you were great?) Some of us may be stronger in certain aspects of our job, and weaker in others. It's very important to remain humble, however, and to admit our personal weaknesses. I don't know about your workplace culture (maybe you're close to your coworkers or your boss, or maybe you're not), but I feel lucky in that my coworkers are highly collaborative and supportive of each other. You may want to ask your boss for more training opportunities or, if you speak with your coworkers outside of work, if they can help you practice certain skills. It's great that you are taking action to improve yourself, and I wish you the best of luck!
July 1st, 2017 11:31pm
I believe if you do your best, that is enough. Here are a few other tips: 1. Keep a list of things you wish to achieve at work. When you have reached those daily goals or tasks, mark down your work. This will help you get a sense of your competence. 2. Understand your worry. Where is it from? Why do you feel this way? Could it be because of peer pressure? If so, refer back to #1. Also, remember that focusing on your own work and skills is more important than the opinions of others. 3. Talk with your boss. Ask for feedback and constructive criticism actively. Not only may this give you good tips, your relationship with your coworkers and superiors may improve. 4. Believe in yourself. You can do this!
July 26th, 2017 2:43pm
Talking to you supervisor and asking for feedback on your work is always an option. If you feel like you aren't performing to the best of your ability, ask to schedule a time to sit down. Ask them for feedback on what you're doing well as well as where you can improve. A good supervisor or manager should take the time to help you grow professionally and feel valued in your position.
July 30th, 2017 3:56pm
Have you discussed with your boss that you feel incompetent? Has anyone put this in your head? How are your progress reports and such? If your fears are unfounded then I think you could benefit from getting some reassurance from your boss and colleagues. If your fears are founded then you could work on your performance :)
August 24th, 2017 12:30pm
Hi! You may first check with yourself and understand why you feel this way. You may want to ask yourself these questions: 1. Am I just starting out with my job? What are the expectations I need to fulfill in my current role? 2. What impression do I leave my boss and colleagues? How is this relevant in my work? Sometimes, it may be just that you see yourself as incompetent because you have not yet found a sense of achievement in what you are doing. Don't worry though. With a bit of self-introspection, I'm sure you'll find fulfillment. Wishing you the best! :-)
October 7th, 2017 6:34am
Ask for feedback. Review your notes or reflect on what you've learned. Find a "de facto" mentor who can give you unwritten advice. Let them know you want to add value, and ask what can you do to be effective in your position.
December 3rd, 2017 11:03pm
If you're doing the necessary work and you're trying your best, it's important that you find the inner confidence and know that your incompetency is but a figment of your imagination.
January 10th, 2018 11:57pm
Reflect on why you feel incompetent. But first look on the positive. What do you know about your job? Why did you get that job. You convinced someone to get that job. So what makes you unsure? Can you look something up? Refresh some knowledge to give yourself more theoretical competence. And maybe something practical. Dress in something you're feeling well. It doesn't have to be obvious. Your favourite underwear, lucky socks, a neclace? Something to start your day in a good mood. :)
March 2nd, 2018 1:00am
You might have the Fraud Syndrom : a trend to feel incompetent or not deserving you seat on the table. Try remembering everything you've acomplished until now and keep in mind you know your stuff.
March 7th, 2018 11:35pm
Do you have a manager or mentor you can talk to? I’ve found that our colleagues and supervisors can make great teachers and are often more than willing to help train, educate, and develop skills and confidence.
March 22nd, 2018 6:26pm
Ask your manager/colleagues to give you advice on your work. By doing just that, you are showing interest to work harder and it can help you improve.
March 31st, 2018 10:29am
Confidence should come from within. Find out things you are good at, and accept things you could improve. Everyone is good at something :)
May 2nd, 2018 1:08pm
Have a chat with your immediate supervisor. Try to understand your progress from his view and ask for a feedback. Also lay out what you want to achieve and have a long term goal. Take small steps and have personal achievements. It can be learning a new skill which may help you do your work more efficiently. Also learn from others on the team who consistently perform well. And lastly don't be afraid to ask for help and you will see a great deal of change on the horizon.
May 10th, 2018 12:55am
Ask your supervisor or a co worker for help and their input. It may just be you worrying and you’re actually pretty competent.
June 2nd, 2018 8:01am
It often helps to talk to your employer about it. Are there areas of your work you feel you need help with? If so, explain the areas you feel you are weakest and ask them if they can help? A company I once worked for paid for me to go on a course to improve my skillset.
June 14th, 2018 2:34pm
Work diligently and update your coworkers on your progress and your troubles. Don't compare for now, focus on what you can do.
June 28th, 2018 3:30pm
Once you have more confidence in the things that you do, you’ll do better. While you are doing things, tel yourself you can do it, grow confidence, and you’ll feel better about the things you do.
July 19th, 2018 5:25am
You can ask your supervisor for any criticism on how you execute tasks, or for any feedback on what could be improved.