What to Do if Your Company’s Culture Doesn’t Fit You

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The following is adapted from Ignite Your Career!

Do you feel like you don’t fit in at your company? Are you often on a different page than your coworkers? Does the company make decisions you don’t agree with?

If your current job feels “not quite right,” the problem likely isn’t you —it’s the culture fit. A “good culture fit” means your employer’s values and the company’s norms align with your own.

But when your values and preferences don’t match your company’s, it can be difficult, if not impossible, to find professional fulfillment.

Fortunately, it’s not too difficult to assess your company’s culture and determine whether it’s a good fit for you. All you need to know are the right questions to ask. Below, I’ll share several criteria and questions that will help you decide whether your employer is a good fit, or if it’s time to move on to the next opportunity.

Assessing Company Culture

Finding a company that’s a good culture fit for you doesn’t always come naturally. It’s a learned skill, and sometimes you have to “kiss a few frogs before you find your prince.” In other words, you might work at a few companies that aren’t a great fit before finding your dream job. Maybe the “frogs” include your current employer.

To figure out whether you fit in at your current company, start by assessing the culture. The goal is to define the culture and figure out which areas are a good fit for you and in what ways you’d want your employer to be different.

Here are a few questions that will give you an idea of the culture:

  • Go to the company website and read their values. Do they resonate with you?

  • Do the employees’ behaviors match the company’s stated values?

  • Are people in the office smiling? Do they seem happy?

  • Is the office chaotic, lively, or serene?

  • What is the office layout? Do people have offices or cubicles, or is it an open plan?

The answers to these questions will give you a clearer picture of your company’s culture, and once you have that, you can move on to the personal question of whether or not it suits you.

Is Your Company a Good Culture Fit?

No matter how much information you gather, culture fit is still sometimes difficult to assess. This is when I believe you need to listen to your gut instinct: that combination of your heart and head. If there is something nagging at you, don’t ignore it. Try to figure out what it is.

Perhaps you don’t appreciate managers looking over your shoulder, or you prefer office environments where colleagues socialize and collaborate more. Maybe the company doesn’t value innovation and problem-solving as much as you’d like. Write down everything you do and don’t like about your company’s norms and values.

You might decide that you don’t fit in with this company, and that’s okay. Trying to fit into a culture that does not naturally work for you makes everything tougher. It takes a huge amount of energy to pretend to be someone you are not! You’re better off leaving this company and finding one that’s a more natural fit for you.

Make Your Next Opportunity Your Best Job Yet

By taking the time to list out your workplace culture preferences, you’ll have a better idea of what to look for in your next job opportunity. You’ll know what to look for and how to assess the culture of a potential employer.

Being mindful of a company’s culture and how it aligns with your personality will help you avoid land mines. Don’t jump at a job offer because it has more money, a better title, or ideal geography without also assessing the culture fit.

Also, if you think a company is a great culture fit, don’t be afraid to apply even if you don’t meet all of the qualifications. Companies know how critical culture fit is to set employees up for success. They have seen promising hires wither and fail due to lack of culture fit. As a result, they often overlook gaps in skills in order to recruit a person who “fits” their organization. Many skills can be trained and taught. Fit cannot.

The Right Culture Exists—Go Find It

If you decide you don’t fit in with your current company after assessing its culture, don’t be discouraged. The right culture for you exists—you simply need to find it.

Remember: There are no good or bad cultures—but there absolutely are good and bad culture fits. As you search for opportunities, look for companies that align with your personal values and preferences, and when you apply, let them know why you think you’re a good culture fit. The right company is looking for you as much as you’re looking for them.

When you finally get a job with your dream company, you’ll feel a sense of belonging, purpose, and fulfillment that simply isn’t possible when you aren’t aligned on culture.

For more advice on building a successful career, you can find Ignite Your Career! on Amazon.

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