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THE QUESTION

I was hired for a great senior position with a new company but I am totally in over my head. I overplayed my abilities and was given a lot of responsibilities and tasks that I don’t know how to handle. It’s been a month since I started. I have been putting in tons of overtime and I’m barely keeping up with my assignments. I want to keep this job and I really needed the bump in pay. But it’s been so stressful and I dread starting work every day. I’m embarrassed to admit that I’m not equipped to do this job. What should I do?

THE FIRST ANSWER

Hemalee Sisodraker, director of people and culture, Endy, Toronto

First, congratulations on your new role! What initially comes to mind is a question: Are you sure you are “totally in over your head,” or are you feeling the pang of imposter syndrome, as so many professionals – particularly new senior leaders – do? Remember that you were hired for a reason. Your manager saw something in you that would take the company to the next level, and you clearly demonstrate a willingness to learn and grow.

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Use this realization, and your newness at the company, to your advantage. As soon as possible, initiate a frank, candid and perhaps somewhat uncomfortable conversation with your boss. Share where you are struggling, seek out specific feedback for how you can work more efficiently, and communicate that you are willing to put in the work to perform at the highest possible level. Most managers would much prefer to help you prioritize for a few months, rather than see their new hire’s mood, performance and engagement decline. Be open to whatever feedback you receive, including positive feedback that you are, in fact, meeting or exceeding expectations.

Your candour will likely deepen your relationship with your manager, and showcase your ability to initiate and navigate difficult conversations – a vital skill for any senior leader. Embrace this challenge and have confidence in your capacity to grow, learn and thrive in your new role.

THE SECOND ANSWER

Bruce Sandy, principal, Pathfinder Coaching, Nanoose Bay, B.C.

Congratulations on landing your new position. It is not unusual to doubt one’s competencies and skills in the initial phase of a job. You are only one month into your new senior position. This doubt or fear is often referred to as the imposter syndrome where one feels that they will be discovered to be a fraud or not worthy or capable of performing a task or a job. Remember to breathe, step back and look at your situation realistically.

Review your resume and work history to remind yourself of all the experience and wisdom you bring to the job and why this company hired you. Be realistic in how long it will take you to learn your new role(s) and responsibilities. Be curious with your new boss about their expectations of you in your first three, six and 12 months on the job. Set up regular meetings with your boss to discuss your progress and any challenges that you are facing.

Find others such as key officials in the company, a mentor and a coach who can help you transition effectively into the organization and your new position. Identify and sign up for courses and seminars which will allow you to develop and/or hone the skills which you may feel that you are lacking.

What you focus on grows. Focus on building your confidence in your new position, not your fears and doubts such as the imposter syndrome and second-guessing yourself.

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Have a question for our experts? Send an email to NineToFive@globeandmail.com with ‘Nine to Five’ in the subject line. Emails without the correct subject line may not be answered.

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