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What Happens When You Start a New Job and Immediately Hate It?

Your first days on a new job are usually exciting and slightly nerve-wracking. You have to learn new processes, get a sense of the office culture, and meet as many people as possible. You want to keep an open mind. But what should you do if you notice the company you're working for is a mess? Your interviewer probably didn't let on that employees work 12-hour days, processes are disorganized, and all the managers lack communication skills. A controller in this situation recently reached out to other Proformative members for advice on how to cope. "I'm not sure if I'm not ready for the demands of the position or if it's the company that's my problem," the controller wrote. 

Of course, one way to rise to the occasion is to quickly gain the skills necessary to succeed in the new job. Proformative offers many free webinars and other online training for that very purpose.

Should You Stay or Should You Go?
Like the controller, once you've started a new job and realized it falls far short of your expectations, you may debate whether you should stick it out or leave immediately. Proformative members were split over what individuals who find themselves in these situations should do.

There's always a chance things could improve or that the business's problems are temporary. Perhaps it's experiencing a sudden leap in sales, but the staffing hasn't been able to keep up. Or maybe a change in direction has everyone in a state of adjustment.  

Proformative member Christie Jahn, CFO at Atlantic Wireless, suggested looking at such a situation as an opportunity. It could be both challenging and rewarding, as the unhappy new employee could impact change at the company. "Assess where the greatest weaknesses are and begin to implement small, structured changes; make sure to explain the 'whys' behind your proposed changes to have buy-in," she wrote. She did note that it's important to ensure management teams are on board with ideas before moving forward.

However, other Proformative members recommend stressed employees should jump ship as soon as possible. Depending on the number of problems you see within the company and their severity, you may not be able to implement necessary changes, especially if management teams don't yet value your input and advice. Some members advised leaving the position if it became clear the owners of the company aren't receptive to feedback or willing to make alterations that could benefit the enterprise.

Assess the Situation and Your Preferences
When deciding whether to stay with a poorly managed company or search for a new job, take a look at your personal, long-term goals. Proformative member Regis Quinn, CFO consultant at CMD Capital Formation, pointed out personal preferences play a large role in the decision, but reminded fellow members that the situation can be thought of as a blank slate.

He pointed out two important questions that need to be considered when deciding whether to leave immediately or try to make the best of the situation. "Do you like an environment without structure, where you are tasked with building that structure, vs. an established Fortune 100 company?" he wrote. "Is your opinion respected by the owner and management team?"

These key points can help you determine whether or not to leave after just a few weeks. If you enjoy a challenge and think building more efficient processes will help you advance your skills and benefit the company, holding on to the position may be the right choice. However, if you're uncomfortable making these decisions and management teams aren't receptive to your feedback, it may be time to start the job hunt again.

As a finance professional, the actions those around you take could reflect poorly on you if you decide to stay - putting your personal liability and career on the line. Proformative member James Peters recommended the controller "jump ship as soon as possible." He wrote, "it sounds like your current position would be very stressful for anyone trying to establish controls and procedures."

Consider the Situation a Learning Experience
Whatever you decide, think of the experience as beneficial to your career, rather than a failure. Staying in the new job and successfully rolling out new processes will help you learn how to establish best practices, question the status quo, and consistently seek more efficient solutions. These skills are valuable in any position and can help you land another job down the road.

Even if you decide to take off after just a few weeks, you'll still have gleaned valuable insight from your experience. You may have learned you're not fond of working with newer startups that don't have established practices or that you won't again apply for a position that requires you to lay the groundwork for new processes. Knowing what you didn't like in a job is just as important as recognizing your skills. It can also help you find a more suitable position when you decide it's time to move on from a position with a company that doesn't allow you to best use your talents.


(Vice President) |

I have definitely been in this position. When we were "dating" the company executives and supporting team all wore their "Sunday best." It took some time during the "marriage" to discover an overwhelming number of passive-aggressive team members. This was a painful and wonderful learning experience. I purchased some great books on dealing with passive-aggression in the workplace. Ultimately, they all said the same thing; if you are surrounded by passive-aggression; get out! I picked up some great tools for dealing with the occasional passive-aggressive and for keeping the team moving in the right direction in spite of them!

(Director of Internal Audit) |

This post could not come at a better time. I can relate to the heading, however, I do have the backing of the most senior people and the board. As someone mentioned, the environment is "toxic", and there are senior VPs who see nothing wrong (status quo), cannot understand why employees complain about teamwork, and no assistance from managers, etc. in an anonymous survey. They do believe that everything is perfect, and immediately blamed negative results on managers who have left. Needless to say, I am looking actively, have done well in my ten months, get positive feedback for my work and contributions, yet others feel resentful and want to push back. It is time to move on as others have indicated, if you are not happy whether you are making an impact or not. Just my opinion.

Jan Mazyck
Title: Principal
Company: Mazyck Advisors LLC
(Principal, Mazyck Advisors LLC) |

We probably have all been there at one time or another; I certainly have been. As someone once said to me, "if it isn't right on day one, it will never be right." I'm sure that there are exceptions to this rule -- but whether content or context (cultural fit) -- chances are it gets worse from there.

(anonymous) |

This is a tough situation and struggling with this exact issue with my current employer. I noticed very debilitating organizational and communication problems within the first couple weeks of being hired. I thought I'd stick it out since it's a startup company and the pay is excellent. I honestly thought things would get better after time but I was wrong, they got worse. My efforts for change and structure were nothing more than wasted time. A year and a half later I'm now job hunting with very little accomplishments to show for my past work.

My advice, if you decide to stick it out don't stick it out for too long! The pay may be great but if you have very little to show for the last year and a half of work you've done it will be that much more difficult to land your next job.

Ruth Michel
Title: Internal Auditor
Company: Girl Scouts of Montana and Wyoming
(Internal Auditor, Girl Scouts of Montana and Wyoming) |

I've been there as well. I believe the key is whether or not management is receptive to your ideas, opinions and proposed changes. If they are not receptive, you may be wasting your time being there. And it may be a very frustrating experience for you.

Simon Westbrook
Title: CFO
Company: Aargo Inc.
( CFO, Aargo Inc.) |

Some years ago I was recruited by a well known recruiter for my first CFO job. The Company was positioned for an IPO with $40 million in prior year sales, $20 million just raised in a Series B private funding, and discussions had started with an investment banker. Almost immediately on my first couple of days I was receiving calls from vendors wanting to be paid. It didn't take long to find out that the $20 million had already been spent, the "sales" were sitting in the distribution channel as unsold inventory, and customers were not going to pay us until they saw evidence that the product was going to sell through. In the space of a few days we went from being advertised as a pre IPO company to one with no sales, no money, and no prospect of an immediate IPO.

I did not have a pipeline of other potential job opportunities since I had been head hunted for this position, and I had resigned my prior job so there was no going back! My efforts were directed on finding new investors, M&A, or other rescue opportunities and the company lasted for a year before the investors pulled the plug. This was not a happy situation personally but I did gain far more experience over that year than I would have done if I had continued in my prior job for another five years.

Of course, one should do all the due diligence in buying a new job, but the buyer is always at a disadvantage compared to the seller who has all the inside information, or may not be sufficiently well informed of the facts to give a fair representation of the situation.

Topic Expert
Patrick Dunne
Title: Chief Financial Officer
Company: Milk Source
(Chief Financial Officer, Milk Source) |

I have been there. No matter what the position, you will find your "niches" or areas that you will enjoy no matter what the situation. I have been in roles where the position was truly gratifying, but the environment was toxic. I have also worked for control freaks that don't allow you to take on the responsibilities you thought you had. Focus on those things you can control and those that will benefit the organization and things will fall into place.