Here you are, your high hopes for this new job dashed by Day Two! If only you had a crystal ball so you could have foreseen what this workplace is really like, right? Sigh. Now you're wondering what to do. If I quit this job TODAY, then I wouldn't even have to put it on my resume, would I? In the workplace blogging business, asking yourself this question is what we call a "bad sign."
Every working professional can pinpoint the job they should have quit sooner rather than later. The signs were there, but we ignored them and stayed in a bad job for too long.
Why did we stick around when all the red flags were probably there from the beginning? Well, there are many reasons for committing to a bad work relationship. We need the money and the benefits, and/or we don't want to look for a new job. We're optimistic, and we think we can make it work with a little bit of gumption and grit.
We're also taught from a young age that quitters never win, and winners never quit. So it's hard for us to quit, especially when it's something as important as a job. We might train in haste, then repent at leisure.
If you're new to a workplace that isn't working for you, then you have some big decisions to make. Here are five tips for working through it:
1. Assume a certain level of dysfunction. Every workplace has some underlying dysfunction. It might be in how co-workers communicate, it might be in the processes or management styles. Simply assume it's there, somewhere, when you start a job. This way, you won't be surprised when the third rails, know-it-alls, office squabbles, and Debby Downers reveal themselves. And they will. Even dream jobs have their downsides.
2. Don't kick yourself. Please don't get down on yourself for failing to notice big problems during the interview process. It doesn't get you anywhere, and the problems may have been undetectable from your vantage point as an eager interviewee. Instead, look ahead and ask yourself: Is this a work environment I can tolerate for the foreseeable future? Can I put it into context based on past jobs? This question brings me to Tip #3:
3. Know your deal breakers. What goes over the line for you and is completely unacceptable in terms of workplace conduct? Knowing what you will NOT tolerate can help you navigate the situation. My new co-worker is a passive-aggressive jerk -- been there, done that! -- but my new boss throws things whenever she gets angry. So far this morning, she's thrown a stapler and a trash can, and it's only my second day! This goes over the line for me. You get the idea.
4. But don't set the bar too high. You have to be willing to accept some workplace dysfunction in any job. No workplace is perfect, and there are 81 types of employees wherever you go. Sure, it's already clear that your new boss is a micromanager, but it could be worse. Perhaps you've worked long enough to experience much worse. Overall, it's a type of workplace dysfunction you're willing to accept as the status quo during your tenure.
5. Educate yourself. If an unfamiliar type of workplace problem has left you feeling flustered by the end of your first day, then read up on it as soon as possible in your spare time. Chances are good your online search will turn up a few "how-to" articles, blog posts, or message boards on the topic. Seek out a valued friend or family member as a sounding board. Knowledge is power for rolling with the punches as a new hire (and if real punches are being thrown at your new workplace that is not a gym, please refer to Tip #3).
Having negative, underlying workplace "issues" reveal themselves from the very beginning isn't necessarily a bad thing. Your cantankerous new co-workers have just given you a gift. In this case, the gift of knowing exactly what you're getting into from Day One!
However, only you can decide whether this workplace will work for you in the long run. Don't ignore your gut instincts, but don't act rashly without thinking it through from all angles, either. We wish you the best of luck in coming to terms with this common career condundrum. Okay, it's time to quit this blog post.