I’m a little more than one year into this job and getting more and more frustrated with one aspect of it. I’m an analyst, doing waterfall software requirements, which isn’t hard. But also I’m expected to be client-facing, having meetings with the external client to go over their issues and explain our proposed solutions. Pretty standard stuff.
My manager’s even-keeled but a perfectionist, and I took the job over from someone who was here since the beginning of the contract (10+ years) and retired. She knew the system inside and out, and I know he wants me to get to that point also. But the way he’s doing it is making me anxious, nervous, frustrated and I’m not sure if I’m being a baby or am justified in my reaction to his style. I’ve been in client-facing jobs before, and even ones that required that I get up in front of a room of 40-60 people to make presentations. That didn’t make me as anxious as he is. He’s making me feel like I can’t make a single mistake, or I can’t hesitate one second too long if the client asks a question. Just amazing pressure.
Even worse is that I haven’t really had a meeting with the clients yet where I was the one speaking. I’ve gotten this freaked out just from his prepping me to do them.
So first of all, I need to learn all the ins and outs of the system, AND how the clients use it, but I can’t ask the clients how they use it. They only let me talk to our internal QA and Dev teams to learn about the software. If you’re at all familiar with software you realize that this is limited. Talking to the technical teams only provides me the hows and whys of the software design. They don’t know how the clients actually use it and they don’t know if the clients have implemented any workarounds for parts they find difficult to use. So I am not learning the client’s perspective. (I’ve found that this is common in past jobs, too, but managed to work past it anyway.)
I understand that before I talk to the client, I need to fully understand how the system works and be able to communicate it clearly. So for example I’ve been asked to research the list of change requests in our next release to make sure I understand the issues and proposed solutions. Anything I’m not sure about, I know I need to ask a developer or QA person. Done that.
Pull my manager into a 1:1 meeting to do a “practice run” and he starts picking me apart. He never gets mad, but I can’t say a single thing without him correcting me or telling me I need to go ask developer Bob or QA Kerry. Which I did already, and it was some detail that they didn’t know either. Or he just doesn’t like how I phrased something so he says “say this instead…” Then he starts the lecture about how if I’m not sure of anything I should ask. Heard this one several times now. I know to his perspective it just looks like I didn’t know and didn’t ask. But I DID ask someone all the questions I could think of, so the things he’s tripping me up over are stuff that didn’t occur to me. How do you ask about something you don’t know? Or I thought I knew the issue very well, but… you know… I haven’t worked with the system for 10 years and you just threw something at me that I’ve never encountered or thought to ask about.
I’ve done practice runs with coworkers before the ones with him and that didn’t help. He just finds things to pick that they don’t. He keeps telling me that he wants the practice runs with him to be like role plays with the actual client, so no mistakes. They don’t go longer than about 5 minutes before they fall to pieces.
He gets me so flustered that I start hemming and hawing and sounding like I don’t know the first thing what I’m doing. When I get nervous or frustrated, my voice gets hoarse. Then of course his feedback gets worse because I sound so clueless. He might not be mad, but I’m super frustrated and discouraged. Lecturing me about how I should do things isn’t helping.
Should I stop trying to be a business analyst, because I’m pretty convinced that I suck at it.