You were thrilled when you landed your current new job. It definitely felt like the right career move for you. Now a few weeks or possibly a few months on you have got to grips with your new role and settled in, working out colleague’s roles and responsibilities and even how to work the microwave in the kitchen.
However, you have had a growing nagging feeling, which won’t go away no matter how hard you try to bury it, you just aren’t sure whether you are the right fit for your new company’s culture. You put this down to starting a new position, but recently it’s becoming clear.
Perhaps the Management team were not what you anticipated at your interview and you find yourself in endless meetings going round in circles when you prefer to take action. Or maybe your team’s attitudes towards each other and continuous backstabbing doesn’t sit right with your own values.
Now you are unsure what to do - muddle through until you get to 12 months and start looking for a new job? Or send a quick LinkedIn message to your old boss to see if they might take you back?
Feeling like you don’t fit in with your employer's culture can make you feel isolated, believe you have made the wrong decision and possibly anxious.
So, what can you do?
Culture is a difficult thing to understand within any business until you become part of the company and spend time day to day actually there. Whilst you were told in your interview about how often staff appraisals are held, training and after-work drinks in the pub on a Friday’, the culture is actually the things that are harder to demonstrate such as values, beliefs and ‘how we do things around here’ that makes up the essence of any firm’s culture.
Before you start sloping off to the carpark at lunchtime to eat your sandwiches in your car, your first move is to stop, take a step back and figure out exactly what is making you feel so uneasy about your new place of work. As Tony Robbins says ‘See the problem as it really is, but don't make it worse than it is.’
Identify how the culture differs from the impression you had gathered whilst visiting and meeting key people as a candidate, during the interview process. By identifying this, it will help you in your next step.
Is it because you feel you haven’t had a chance to jell with your team members the way you had anticipated? Or that the culture is different from what you are used to .- not necessarily bad?
Is it uncomfortable because it’s actually presenting you with a challenge, that if you rise to, could be extremely positive for your career?
Work out exactly where your problem is. Is it unfamiliarity, are you lacking in some skills, and need a refresher or is it truly the wrong fit for you?
Now you have identified what in particular is concerning you, write down some action points to put into place.
Struggling to get to know your colleagues? Join in with social occasions, or if there aren’t any coming up, why not take your team out for lunch or an evening meal? People usually relax more out of work and its much easier to get to know people outside of the office. This can only help form better bonds with your team.
Perhaps things are more serious and the working environment is much harsher than you anticipated. Everyone works well past leaving time and at weekends and there is an underlying vibe that you should also be doing this.
As with any change, you should try to understand and adapt first, before demanding change or the final option, walking away.
If after trying to get to know colleagues better, you still feel the role might not be right for you, it’s time to talk to your Manager or boss.
Get a diary appointment with your Manager
If you feel it’s time to talk to your Manager, secure time in their busy diary for a frank conversation about how you’re feeling. Allow yourself enough time to talk through things. If you feel nervous, jot down some notes beforehand.
To open up the meeting, start by asking for feedback on how they feel you have settled in and your work so far. If they are an experienced Manager they may have already picked up on the fact you are not fully comfortable in your role.
If they don’t pick up on your issues, try to be as open and honest and give details about the points you have been struggling with. Explain your feelings and give as many examples as you can, to help your Manager build up a picture and hopefully offer a solution or some thoughtful advice.
Other questions you could ask in the meeting include: ‘What else should I understand? And “Are there other things I could be doing?”
By asking these questions, you demonstrate that you are not attacking the companies culture, you are trying to establish if there are cultural aspects that you might not be used to or that you don’t agree with.
Perhaps there are long term goals of the business that you might not have been made aware of, which will make sense once explained.
Hopefully, your boss or manager has agreed with you some positive next steps that you can both implement to ideally improve your situation. If suitable, agree on a follow-up meeting to check in and feedback in a week or two.
What should you do next?
You need to give it a fair shot of a few weeks at the very least. Adapting your style or process may take a while. Culture isn’t something that shifts rapidly and if you’re honest with yourself, the culture isn’t going to change overnight to accommodate you.
If it's a positive outcome and things start to improve then this can only help you feel more confident in your role as you settle into it.
However, if after you have given it a real good shot for a few weeks and the situation hasn’t improved or you’re still feeling unhappy -as tough at it sounds, it may be time to start your next job search (while you are still receiving a salary!) to find a culture that’s more suited to you.
The first thought that will come to mind is ‘I haven’t been here long enough - this will look horrendous on my CV and my reputation will be ruined if I move now!” It is a valid concern. However, when you look at the alternative of staying in a job that you aren’t happy in and therefore won’t be successful in, this is also not an option.
When the time is right, approach your boss with honesty and explain its best that you move on. Be constructive and try to give feedback that will help the company improve. Since you have already made them aware of your concerns, handing in your notice won't be the greatest shock to them. Although no manager enjoys losing a team member - hopefully, they will see that you were honest and about the situation and wish you well.
Deciding to leave your job because you weren’t a culture fit is understandable. But what steps can you take to make sure history doesn't repeat itself?
To avoid the same situation in the future, you need to ask the right questions at your interviews.
Another option is to find your next role through an experienced recruitment consultant who specialises in your sector.
A decent consultant will know their clients and therefore the culture within that business very well - so when you approach them, they will understand what it is you are looking for and if you will be the right fit.
It’s also a best to be upfront from the start and explain what happened in the role you are currently in.
Ultimately the more honest you are with your consultant, the more they will understand what you want (and don't want ) culture-wise and be able to place you in a company which matches your soft skills.
Consultants act as an excellent buffer, so you can thoroughly make sure all the right questions are asked during the process - they can go back and forth and explore all the answers with you and consult with you to get a true picture of your possible new role and if it is the right move for you. The last thing you want is to hastily take a new job, only to find you are in the same situation three months in the future.
It can be a challenge to understand and get a true picture of a companies culture during an interview. Before your interview, take the time to write a checklist of five or six things that are important to you - flexibility or work ethic for example. If you don’t like the answer, it's maybe not the best fit.
Having doubts about your position in a new company because of a lack of alignment on culture, is enough to make anyone feel panicky and stuck. But, by reading these four steps you can create a plan to help improve the situation, or if that is not an option, go to plan B and take steps to move on professionally and with dignity.
The Leicester office of Precision People were 2014 finalists in Leicestershire Business of the Year awards. With revenue exceeding £3 million, Precision is the local leader among technical and management search firms.
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