So, you’re a crappy employee. Now what?

Okay, maybe you’re not really a crappy employee.  Maybe you’re just a misunderstood genius.  A tortured artist whose brilliance is unappreciated by the rest of us.


Or maybe you really are an employee who just isn’t very good at your job.

Hey, it happens. Sometimes responsibilities change and you don’t have the necessary skills.  Sometimes you take a stretch job and you’re in over your head. Sometimes you get a new boss you just don’t get along with.  Sometimes you just run out of gas.

Whatever it is, you probably know you’re not doing your best, and it bothers you. A lot.

Nobody likes being bad at their job. And contrary to popular belief, most employees know when they are struggling.  We don’t always admit it…but deep down, we know.


The real question is – what do you want to do about it? Well, you have a few choices:

  • Decide if you want to stay in your current job: Maybe you like your job.  Maybe you don’t like your current job but need it.  Or maybe you really hate it and have the freedom to walk away.  Figure out the answer to that question and act on it.
  • If you want to leave, leave: Don’t be one of those people who quits but keeps coming in every day. It hurts your reputation, hurts your teammates, and never turns out well.  If you’ve decided to leave, do it sooner rather than later. But leave like a grown up, okay? No mic drops needed.
  • If you want to stay, fight for it: Acknowledge that you are not performing up to expectations. Get some help.  Ask for for honest, specific feedback from your manager, stakeholders, teammates – anyone who can give you some suggestions on how to turn things around. And don’t settle for “just do better.”  Ain’t nobody can act on that advice.
  • Own it: Maybe someone else was the spark for your troubles at work, but you’re the one who controls your actions. Admit you own your performance and the outcomes.  It’s the only way you will be able to make the necessary changes.
  • Get your head on straight: If you’re having trouble at work, you’re probably not the happiest person right now. It’s easy to work yourself into a downward spiral with negative self-talk and a crappy attitude. Take some time to reflect on how you got to where you are. Confide in a friend, a group of friends, a therapist, your dog – whoever you need in order to help you work on your outlook.
  • Keep checking in: It didn’t take you a day to turn into a crappy employee, so give yourself some time and keep the dialogue with your manager open.  Course correct as needed and keep moving in the right direction.

Whatever you decide to deal with your current situation, don’t forget to celebrate the wins. When you’re in a tough situation, you can forget how awesome success can feel. Whether you quit a job you hate or decide to take control of your current performance – you deserve a little pat on the back. It takes courage to take action when you feel beat up.

You might be a crappy employee now, but there’s no excuse to STAY a crappy employee.

You can do it. I believe in you. After all…you’re a misunderstood genius.

Just like the rest of us.


Failure is good as long as it doesn’t become a habit.
~ Michael Eisner


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