What to Do When You’re Not a Culture Fit at Your New Job

woman staring off

Adobe Stock / Fairygodboss Staff

Profile Picture
Ivy Exec51
A community of 1 million working professionals
April 13, 2024 at 6:4AM UTC
When considering a job offer, you want to think about if the company culture connects with your work style and values. 

What is company culture?

“It’s a set of values that govern the way business is handled. In organizations that embrace its culture, it can be a significant driver of performance and employee satisfaction. The culture can be written and documented or it can be unstated and developed over time,” Paul Dughi for Ivy Exec explains. 
If a company’s culture is completely divergent from your own, you likely wouldn’t be happy working there. However, there are certainly instances where you connect with a company’s mission but realize you’re not a culture fit when you start a new job. 

What is a "culture fit"?

“Culture fit” is connected with company culture, but it focuses primarily on the personalities of the people within an organization. For instance, a company may want to preserve its non-hierarchical, informal personality. 
While candidates can likely get a sense of the organization’s personality in interviews, they may find that they’re unprepared for some of the day-to-day expectations. Here, we’ll discuss what to do in three scenarios at a new company where you’re not a complete cultural fit. 

You are an introvert, but your workplace has lots of social functions.

Some colleagues like to spend time with each other outside of work. Maybe they have happy hours once a week or regular gatherings during the workday to celebrate birthdays. 
A collegial environment like this can be a shock to some introverts’ systems. But if you’re feeling this way, the first step is to ask yourself, what is the problem here? Is it that you feel that your colleagues know each other better? Do you feel like you’re the odd man out in their inside jokes? 
Once you identify what’s bothering you, the next step is connecting with your coworkers, even one-on-one if that is less intimidating to you. You may feel more comfortable interacting in social situations if you have an ally or a closer bond. 
What’s more, you don’t have to attend every gathering. While you probably couldn’t skip every get-together in a social office, you don’t have to spend every weeknight with them if you don’t want to. 

The company operates with a lot of ambiguity; you need structure.

You may start working at a company with a highly-ambiguous culture. For instance, you could be hired for a role that doesn’t have a clear purpose or at an organization that is undergoing a structural change. 
Indeed offers suggestions for managing an ambiguous workplace culture, including: 
  • Building your problem-solving skills so you can make plans and solve issues without a tremendous amount of information. 
  • Communicating often with others who may be more familiar with the ambiguity at your company, as well as determining if your work is successful. 
  • Becoming more comfortable with change. If you’re used to a static, predictable environment, you may be excited by ambiguity if you open your mind to it. 
  • Staying calm. At your previous workplace, ambiguity may have been undesirable, and this may not be the case in your new role. Embrace the idea that ambiguity may not be a problem, only an interesting challenge. 

The company is very collaborative; you’re used to a hierarchical structure.

In your previous workplaces, you may have grown accustomed to having a supervisor who ultimately made all the decisions. In your new workplace, the structure is more collaborative.
This kind of structure can feel uncertain when you’re used to something else. Again, decide what your discomfort is about. Do you need clearer outcomes in your projects? Bring up this need to your colleagues. Talk to your team members about the ways you feel you are best able to contribute and what you bring to the table. 
You can also discuss your fears with your supervisor. That way, they can offer you suggestions about working more collaboratively, rather than throwing you into the deep end and letting you figure it out alone. Communication about your expectations and working style are imperative. 

Working at an Organization Where You’re a Culture Fit Mismatch

When you start at a new company, there are going to be adjustments. You likely grew accustomed to how your former workplace operated and needed time to make modifications. Adapting to your new company while staying true to yourself takes time. 
However, if you feel that you are not going to be successful in your role because of culture fit, you may want to re-evaluate if the company is a place you want to commit to long term. After all, according to Direct of Talent Lindsay Evans, “Studies show that employees who share their company’s values and fit with the culture have higher job satisfaction, superior job performance and greater retention.”

What's your no. 1 piece of advice on coping when you're not a culture fit? Share your answer in the comments to help other Fairygodboss'ers!

This article originally appeared on Ivy Exec.

Why women love us:

  • Daily articles on career topics
  • Jobs at companies dedicated to hiring more women
  • Advice and support from an authentic community
  • Events that help you level up in your career
  • Free membership, always