Boss Says You Work Too Slow? (How to Mitigate)


People who are just getting started to work are often told by their boss that they are too slow at work. Many of them don't quite understand which part of their work is too slow for their boss and it is quite depressing. So, let's analyze the complaint about being too slow at work.

It is depressing that your boss says you work too slow when you're giving everything you got to complete the work. Usually, starting an argument with your boss is not going to end well.

However, we can list out a few reasons why your boss says you work too slow and then, take a look at a few solutions to see if we can mitigate the problem.

Why Your Boss Says You Work Too Slow?

Like any problem, we must identify the causes of the problem. In this case, let's try to brainstorm a few possibilities why your boss says you work too slow.

1. Your Boss Underestimated the Amount of Effort Required

Most of the time, your boss knows how your work is supposed to be done. Your boss had been through the process and that's why your boss says you work too slow because your boss is comparing you with what your boss used to be.

However, not every boss knows about the entire process (from A to Z). There are plenty of bosses out there who had never done your work before or previously had done only a part of your work. Hence, for the rest of the work, they use estimation to gauge the time required for the work.

Sometimes, your boss may underestimate the amount of effort required to get the work done. Your boss may not have practiced the work process for quite some time and thus, they misjudge the time required to complete the work.

2. Your Boss is Being Unrealistic

Almost all bosses have unrealistic expectations from time to time, especially when there is a lack of constant communication.

If you and your boss did not meet up face to face and talk about your work and process on a regular basis, your boss will start to doubt whether or not you're working at the optimal speed.

Humans are forgetful and your boss is no different.

In addition, your boss is more likely to say you work too slow when the work is a new project or something you both have no experience with. Without experience, your boss uses estimation to gauge your productivity and that goes back to the first reason why your boss says you work too slow.

3. Your Boss Thinks that Everyone Put in the Same Amount of Effort

Bosses, especially big bosses or business owners often think that their employees work as much as they do. They think that everyone is putting in the same amount of effort.

Unfortunately, most employees do not and hardly will.

As a business owner, your boss thinks about the business all the time. However, you think about what movie to watch with your friends on the coming weekend.

Many successful entrepreneurs said that business owners should never think that their employees will work like them. It is in fact a big mistake.

4. Your Boss Puts Unnecessary Stress On You

Some bosses (especially business owners) often seek approval from others about their business ideas. They constantly brag about how great their business idea, model and etc.

However, they don't realize that they are putting unnecessary stress on their employees.

Many times, employees are overwhelmed by information shared by their boss instead of feeling proud of their boss's success. It is especially true for employees who are just getting started. They had no clue about the business and the industry. Sharing too much high-level information with them can make them feel small, insecure and become hesitant.

5. You Have Difficulty Concentrating

Lack of sleep is one of the primary reasons why you work too slow relative to others. In order to be fast at work, you need to concentrate. Otherwise, you'll be forgetful and slow things down.

Double handling and making corrections are two things that usually slow you down at work. Sometimes, an underlying medical condition may be the root cause.

Efficient people do things right the first time. They think about the entire process before they start and they follow through without forgetting a single step. In other words, they are sharp and focused.

If you have difficulty concentrating, being slow at work is inevitable.

6. You Overestimated Yourself

People who go for the money often overestimated themselves. Thus, they struggle to meet their boss's expectations and eventually quit (or get fired) for being too slow and inefficient at work.

Most bosses are calculative. If your boss is willing to pay your more than the market does, you must expect to work extra hard to meet your boss's high standards.

Sometimes, people are dishonest about their actual skills and experience during the interview to increase the chance of getting hired. However, they can't cope with the work and thus, are told that they are taking too much time, too slow and not productive.

7. You're Being Too Cautious

People want to be perfect at everything. They want to impress their boss with their perfect job, perfect text reply and perfect email. However, perfection is one of the most common reasons why people are too slow at work.

Most bosses want to get things done quickly. They're often impatience but it is understandable. In the world of businesses, timing is a very important factor when determining if a company can succeed.

If you're too slow to get things done and missed the timing, your work is worthless. The importance of timing is realized when there is a deadline. However, timing is equally important for plenty of things that are not bounded by a specific deadline.

What to Do When Your Boss Says You Work Too Slow?

Now that we have a rough idea of why your boss says you work too slow. So, let's see what can we do to mitigate them.

1. Are You Working at Your Best State?

If something is bothering you at work, you will not be productive. Hence, you need to ask yourself whether or not you are working at your best state?

If the answer is no, identify what are the things that are affecting your performance.

Everyone has performance issues once in a while. Identifying them and getting rid of them is one of the ways to bring yourself back together and therefore, back to performing your work at your best state.

Discipline is one of the factors that can carry you to your best state. Behaviors like sleeping early, waking up at a regular time and procrastinating less will help you focus and work faster.

2. Are You Being Healthy?

Some people may have an underlying medical condition that is causing them to have difficulty concentrating and feeling tired all the time.

Being healthy is extremely important to be productive at work.

Hence, take some time to understand your body. Be aware of the sign or any symptoms and seek treatment as early as you can.

3. Can You Get Along with Your Boss?

Being able to work efficiently and meet your boss's expectations means you have to constantly communicate with your boss about the work and the process you've made.

If you don't like your boss, it is going to be difficult.

Hence, you can either change the way you think about your boss (maybe you misunderstood your boss) or initiate a conversation with your boss to talk about your concerns and work together to resolve it.

4. Apply the 80/20 Rule to Your Work

For perfectionists, apply the 80/20 rule to work faster.

Most bosses appreciate fast work rather than perfect work. Sometimes, your boss complains about your imperfection because you haven't delivered enough “good work” to change your boss's impression of you being “careless”.

The more you deliver, the less your boss will complain about your silly mistakes (given that those mistakes are not critical). In the end, you want to be the person to “deliver as promised” and “get things done no matter what”.

80% of the result came from 20% of the work. To achieve the last 20% of the result, you'll need to put an extra 80% effort. Clearly, striving for the last 20% of the result will lead to you being too slow at work.

Sometimes, to be efficient, you need to sacrifice some quality…

Tips to Work Faster

When I first started working, I was no different. I worked long hours yet doesn't produce the result that my boss wanted. A few years later, I finally realize some of the problems that I have.

Basically, I was spending my time on non-important things. Once I get rid of them and start focusing on the things that matter, my boss doesn't complain anymore.

So, let me share a few things that I've done throughout my career as an HVAC project engineer.

TaskActionResult
Write a letterExplain my message using simple words. Not trying to perfect the page margin. Didn't check my grammar more than one time.Readers understood my intention.
Drawing submissionUse the existing layer to draw. Didn't change any text font. Didn't try to perfect the text box position as long as it is readable.Readers understand the drawing and the changes made.
RFI submissionHand sketch to explain instead of using CAD drawings.Readers understand my request.
Pipe sizingCreated an excel sheet.Fast and accurate calculation.
Technical problemsCall someone and seek help instead of texting and waiting.Instant answer.

Some of these tips may not be applicable to you but you can see the trick behind them. Basically, nobody cares about how beautiful is your work but only the result. As long as you can convey the message clearly and precisely, simple sketches and incorrect grammars are irrelevant.

Everyone wants to produce quality work and chase the last 20%. However, those things don't really make an impact on the final result. Hence, it is better to use your time on things that really matter.


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Yu Chang Zhen

I enjoy working on air conditioners and ventilation fans because Malaysia is a very hot country.

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