Advice on culture: Have you 'married' the wrong company?

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A career change can bring unexpected consequences. Take the example of Sue. After 10 years in management in the public sector, she was ready to move on. She chose the charity sector where she had a passion for a cause. She set her sights high and was ready.

Sue landed her dream job as head of department with a large charity that was expanding abroad. She was committed and excited about the opportunities ahead.

Technically, Sue was more than capable. She had an excellent track record in management and experience in her new sector. Sue thought everything was going well until her probationary period was extended. Something was amiss.

Although Sue received specific feedback, she became aware she didn’t fit her new employer’s culture. One difference was her style of decision making. She was told she was “too collaborative and consultative”. Sue believed her approach was right - she was aiming to increase team engagement. The organisation wanted her to be more confident, show more drive and assertion.

This created a conflict for Sue. She accepted she could be more assertive, but she wanted to do this without compromising her values. Other heads at the charity were aggressive and at times bordering on bullying. This wasn’t her style.

Through her coaching, Sue learnt what she could do differently next time:

In hindsight, Sue acknowledged she could have approached her first 90 days differently. The good news is, she has proved she is resilient and landed another head of department job in the charity sector - and is thriving!

Jennifer Baker is a professionally trained executive coach with a strategic business background

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