What to Do if the Company Culture is Not a Fit
By Shari Steinbach, MS RDN, RDBA Contributing Editor
Have you ever felt like you didn’t mesh with your company culture? Whatever the reason for not feeling like you fit in, the experience can cause a lot of anxiety. If you find yourself in this situation, don’t despair. There may be a way to work through the issue versus making an exit.
- First Identify the Problem – The things that make up a company’s culture include values, customs and beliefs. Some of these norms may not be visible until you’ve spent some time in your position. When you sense that something isn’t right, step back and sift through what you are experiencing compared to what your expectations are. Ask yourself if you are truly uncomfortable with the culture, or is it simply too challenging? A challenging situation could actually be an opportunity for growth if you are open to it. However, if the culture doesn’t fit your work style, for example, it’s very competitive and you need more collaboration, take some time to see if you can accept and adapt to the environment.
- Make an Action Plan – If you’re in a new job, spend time getting to know your fellow team members. Many companies have social groups for you to connect with like a golf league, or walking club. Forming new bonds will help you ease into the workplace, boost your confidence and provide a chance to talk to others about the work culture. You may also want to talk to your boss about concerns you are having with adapting to the culture. For instance, if your colleagues work endless hours but you are trying to find balance with your home life, you should explain how you are feeling and brainstorm possible solutions.
- Don’t Make any Rash Decisions – If you’ve had a discussion with your boss and identified some probable solutions, give yourself time to implement them. Nothing will change overnight but you may start to see some positive shifts in several weeks. If things don’t change or get worse, you may end up deciding to start your next job search. If you do decide to leave however, make sure you provide honest reasons to yourself and your boss. Hopefully they will appreciate your self-awareness and transparency so you leave on good terms.
- Ensure you Don’t have a Repeat – Leaving a company once because the culture didn’t fit is understandable, but you certainly don’t want that to happen again and again. To avoid this situation, make sure you ask the right questions in interviews and do your own company research. Ask prospective employers about those things you care about such as flexibility and collaboration. The answers should not leave you doubting if the company is a good fit. The bottom line is, you will probably be the most successful in a work environment where you can be your authentic self. Trying to fit into a culture that simply doesn’t align with your values can be exhausting and will not be conducive for performing your best work.