How do you know if you suck at your job? Unfortunately, many employees only discover this at year-end performance review time and haven’t had the opportunity to improve. Even worse, some people only find out that they suck at their job when they’re let go. Don’t find yourself in these types of situations! To learn why you suck at your job and how to fix it, keep reading.

Obtain the necessary education and credentials

Problem: Perhaps you simply do not know how to do certain aspects of your job, so you either aren’t performing those tasks to your full potential, or you try to pass them off on someone else. While you can get away with this for a while, sooner or later, others, including your boss, will catch on.

Solution: Ask yourself honestly: out of all your responsibilities, what DON’T you know how to do or do well? What do you find yourself relying on others to get done for you, when it’s really part of your job? Commit to learning and improving those skillsets, through courses, mentoring, or simply asking someone how it’s done. You’ll show initiative, develop more marketable skills, and your colleagues will certainly take note.

Take ownership

Problem: When something goes wrong on the job, the first instinct is often to deflect blame. Most people can see through this, including your manager. Over time, the costs of this can take its toll on your reputation and credibility within the office (and if it’s bad enough, within the industry).

Solution: Create a habit whereby you take full ownership for your mistakes and your role in anything that may have gone wrong. The best thing to do is to acknowledge it, and come prepared with solutions.

Update your skills and knowledge

Problem: Some industries are constantly evolving and the best employees are those that keep up to date on the latest changes and trends. If you feel that because this isn’t an official part of your job description, you’re not obligated to keep your credentials and industry knowledge up to date, then your skills and knowledge can be perceived as out of date.

Solution: Keep your skills and knowledge current by joining an industry association, upgrading your skills through courses, and regularly reading industry news and journals online. Your ideas will be fresher, you’ll contribute more, and those contributions will be perceived as being more ‘relevant’ to your position.

Ask for feedback

Problem: If you’re not receiving regular feedback, don’t assume that everything is fine. It might not be. You could actually be doing things that are slowly taking you off course in terms of performance and career advancement.

Solution: Always ask for feedback from your manager, on every project you’re working on and situations you are charged with managing. If you haven’t already, set up weekly meetings with your manager and ask them directly how they thought you handled certain projects and situations and ask if they have any insights for areas of improvement. Don’t forget to actually use their valuable advice!

Manage expectations

Problem: You’re afraid to say “no” so you take on more and more work, and eventually you find yourself overwhelmed and unable to focus on your core responsibilities, and even meet deadlines.

Solution: Learn to say no or manage expectations. There are many resources out there that tell you how to say no in a firm, but positive way. However, if you do find it hard to say no, then learn how to better manage expectations. For example, instead of flat out telling a colleague or a friend that you are unable to do something or agree to take it on when you have a more pressing deadline, let them know that you are willing to complete the request in a way that works best for you and your current load. That could mean pushing back the deadline, or requesting additional help and support.

The good news is, that on some level, you were hired for a reason and it is possible to improve and actually become excellent at your job, which will not only ensure that you stay employed, but will open the doors to new opportunities.

Melissa Allen writes for Workopolis and appears on the Workopolis 180. She tweets @manifique.

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