What to Do if You’re Not a Good Culture Fit With Your Company

Author: Kat Boogaard
Source: The Muse

You’ve been at your new job now for a few weeks—or maybe even a few months. You feel more settled with your role and responsibilities, you’ve learned who does what across the organization, and you can even find your way to the bathroom all by yourself.

There’s just one thing you’re struggling with, and it’s a big one: Now that you’re actually in it day in and day out, you aren’t sure that you mesh well with this company’s culture.

Maybe you prefer to thoroughly think things through before speaking up, while your team thrives on a fast pace and off-the-cuff responses. Or, perhaps you like an atmosphere that’s lively and collaborative, but your colleagues are always heads-down in their work with their earbuds in.

Now what? Should you say or do something? Or, should you just bite your tongue and deal with that uneasiness until you hit the one-year mark and are able to run for the exit?

There’s no doubt about it—feeling like you aren’t a good match with your employer’s culture is anxiety-inducing. But, here’s the good news: I connected with some experts to find out exactly what you can do after this terrifying lightbulb moment.

1. Identify the Problem

Company culture can be difficult to wrap your head around. While your mind might immediately jump to perks like kegerators and rooftop celebrations, you know by now that culture is way more than that.

It’s the intangible things—like norms, values, and beliefs—that make up the essence of a company’s culture. For example, an organization with a complex hierarchy versus one with a flat structure, or a company that prioritizes continual feedback versus just one rigid performance review.

Let’s face it—it’s pretty tough to get a sense for all of these things until you actually dive in headfirst and become a part of an organization. But before you start breathing heavily into a paper bag, your best first move is to take a step back and figure out exactly what’s making you feel unsure of your new employer.

“Ask yourself how the culture differs from what you were expecting,” says Julie Li, Senior Director of People Operations at Namely. Taking this step will help you determine why you’re saddled with this uneasiness.

Maybe you’ll realize that you just haven’t had a chance to connect with your team members the way you want to quite yet or that the culture is different from what you’re used to—but not necessarily bad.

“Are you uncomfortable because you disagree with the culture or because it’s challenging?” asks Laura Hamill, Chief People Officer and Chief Science Officer at Limeade. “The latter could actually make for an incredible growth opportunity—but it does require you to be open and resilient.”

This self-reflection might also help you confirm that it’s the former—that you really don’t mesh well with this company’s approach and values. For example, it’s a competitive environment and you thrive in a more supportive and collaborative atmosphere.

Figure out where exactly your problem is. Are you unfamiliar? Are you unprepared? Or is it truly not a fit?

2. Do Something About it

Once you have an initial sense of where the disconnect is happening, it’s time to take action.


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