New Job that isn't meeting expectations

An old manager of mine introduced me to his former manager, who just became the CMO at a Series D startup. We chatted about a position for me that would have been a lateral move at a new company. I really liked him and told him my salary range, which was too high for the role... then he offered me a director-level role in a different function on him team that would meet my salary if the company reached the bonus potential. I was really interested because it would be more money, it would elevate me to director-level, and it would provide me with the ability to try something new in an industry (video tech) that gets me closer to my ideal industry (media, streaming, and entertainment). Even though the interviews were rushed because I had another offer on the table that I had to make a decision on ASAP, I decided to accept the job, and I felt like I was actively shaping my career for the first time in a looooong time.

Fast forward one month since I started the job, and every day I wonder if it was the right choice. I don't regret leaving my old company despite being top of my game there and loving most people since I was overworked and underpaid, but there are things about my current company's culture/vibe and its people that I just don't jam well with and I have felt very anxious and sad about the new situation I'm in. To give you context for size, the marketing team is about 5-6 people on a company of almost 200 employees, and we leverage agencies to help out as needed. The full-time employees are not people who I envision myself as friends but people who I hope to be friendly with. The company recently pivoted its focus to software instead of managed services.

I'm someone who really relies on process to stay organized, keep on deadline, and set expectations with my collaborators. I implementing a new process to curb my coworkers' efforts from adding work to my plate that was not appropriate for them to add to my plate, and more importantly to make sure I was getting the information I needed to be successful in my role. This process was modeled after a process my old teammates used who loved it because of how well it worked. It made sure we all had the information we needed at the beginning, so it saved time and helped people feel more confident in their work when collaborating. I shared it to the team with the note that the process is by no means perfect and I am open to feedback to make it better for everyone.

When I announced it, I received no real response to it except for my manager saying he "wondered how the team would react." The others on the team decided to remove me from meetings that I needed to be in, and informed me that they would give me the information as they do with everyone else, and then I can decide what I want to do with it. I set up 1:1 time with the leader of this team, and she asked to reschedule it 15 minutes before the start time despite sending it in advance. This was scary to me because I feel like I've gotten off on the wrong foot somehow even though I'm only trying to improve things. I recognize change is hard, but this response wasn't great and I need to be empowered to do the job I signed up to do somehow.

I'm planning on talking to my boss about what I've been experiencing -- because I don't feel empowered to do my job. I need his help setting expectations with these individuals and help them feel that this is a priority to work on together. I'm not sure how he will respond.

Many of my friends have told me this is just how earlier-stage startups are: disorganized. Many of my friends have recommended I stick it out for 90 days to see how/if things change. And I'm trying to keep that in mind. I'm trying to be positive. But I can't help but feel how I feel, unsettled, dreading work, a little icky. And thinking that I should have stayed at my old company waiting for something better, even though I know full well that this was my only opportunity to move to director level given my level of experience (I have 5-6 years of experience, and many jobs like this ask for 10+).

I honestly thought this company would be in a better shape because of its employee count and series D funding. I am not sure what to do. It's not like I have any leads - I'm not really interested in the company I had the other offer from because even though it was more money than what I'm making now, it would have cemented me in an industry I'm not really excited about (not convinced that's important anymore).

Meanwhile, I plastered it all over LinkedIn that I took this job because I was so excited. I wasn't expecting to feel catfished or like the challenge would be insurmountable because I've never encountered this in a role before.

Should I just stick this out? Are there any indicators I should look for to know whether to stay or leave?

I suggest giving at least 90 days as your friends suggested. I transitioned to a new role / new industry/ new timezone / different culture and it took a while to feel settled and feel part of the team. Also I set my 30-60-90 days goal and aligned with my manager. This helped me set expectations on what success looks like as well what the non-goals are.
I'm sorry to hear you're off to a non-enthusiastic start. Agree with advice you've gotten, 2-3 months is a good time to evaluate fit with your company and it's also new enough to talk to your boss about what you're experiencing. You're still new enough to be curious about how the team dynamics are and ask any questions.
Hi @Rosana22When deciding about quitting, consider a few things:- Role -- what % of your day-to-day work or projects align with your work style, strengths, and natural tendencies?- Industry -- how aligned do you feel with the product/service that your company produces? do you feel that their mission is important & interesting?- Environment -- does the culture align with your personality and values?- Give yourself a 1-10 on each of these to try to assess the current state of where you're at and what to do about it.Additional resources for you to look at:-Short quiz to decide on "should I stay or should I go" minute webinar on deciding if/when to quit >> post about how you're feeling about your current role & what to do about it--> I'm Rachel Serwetz, a Career Exploration Coach, and I'd be happy to chat further with you! Book a free coaching call with me here!
Great advice! I will also add that knowing the criteria you're optimizing for is important too. I realize no job is perfect and being clear about the priority at each season of the career journey helped me decide whether to look for a new job or stay in the same.
Precisely!! Happy to talk through it more with you if you'd like some support to clarify and navigate your next steps :)
Hi! We compiled some advice about this from elphas, you might find this resource helpful:
Hi @Rosana22If you can bear it, then I'd suggest sticking it out too. First of all (having worked in hypergrowth startups in the past) bear in mind that this small team you're working with has probably had to make do without processes for a while now - and in their opinion, that may just be what allowed them to be successful at their job and reach series D with so few employees. Also, did you consider what implementing your new process meant for your co-workers? Did it add to their already full plate? Is it adding extra tasks and steps in their daily routine?Secondly, startup culture is often mistaken for 'overtime, overworked' professional life. Standing up for yourself and refusing to let your coworkers add to your full plate (and I applaud you for it) may have made you look like you're not a team-player/not ready to take on your share of the workload. This may have resulted in them childishly removing you from meetings etc. This should be addressed with their manager as well as the person who hired you. This culture is toxic and their reaction stupid.And now what? The main question you should be asking yourself is: is this work culture unbearable to you? If yes, then leave immediately. Psychological wellbeing is much too important to overlook. This company's work culture will probably evolve and change, but it will take time. You can't switch all employees from earlystage-agile to establishedcompany-processes overnight, particularly if managers encourage such behaviour from employees. Some will actually never like it and will probably leave to join another early stage startup. However, if you find this annoying but bearable, then stick it out for a year. After all, the underlying factors that made you accept this job are still there: this is allowing you to pivot to an industry closer to your dream one, you are taking a step up as a director, and you earn more than before. Sticking it out will enforce this change on your CV, and allow you in a year's time to apply for other jobs in your dream industry at director level.Feel free to DM me is you want to chat about this further!Aude
This really resonated with me. I joined a hypergrowth startup in a leadership role (not really startup given +1000 employees) from a well-established public company. One of the things that struck me was how everyone was heavily vested in and proud of what they accomplished without a lot of processes (I'd be too if I were them), even though there is a general awareness of a need for more structure. I ended up taking an approach of driving incremental changes and gaining influence along the way. I didn't want to be seen as the "other" from the beginning. Still early to tell if this strategy was right. Let's see :)
Thanks for this advice. There is an acknowledgement across my team of the need for process and change because everyone is stretched thin, and something has to change in order to stay viable. Easier said than done. Like I said, the marketing team is 5-6 people and underinvested in. While my proposed process adds a bit more work upfront (maybe 15-30 minutes) answering questions in a document that need to be answered to jointly plan launches, in the long-run it saves time for the team because it makes people think about what is actually needed in a launch. It saves teammates from headaches later on as it ensures important details are accounted for before we venture down investing time and money in the development of campaigns and launch materials. And yes, humans are self-motivated, so it doesn't hurt that it will make my life easier so I can better serve the team and scale my workload.I advocated to keep the conversation open about how things go - again, it's modeled after a process used by my last startup, which is a reputable tech unicorn of a similar size, but that doesn't make it perfect or mean that it can't be improved or that it's not going to be an immediate fit for this team.I spoke with my manager this past week and the conversation went well. We are planning on chatting with the team about how the process can be better, and I think with his support people will listen. He is also new and said he himself thinks that the team culture could use a lot of improvement, and that it's nowhere near where he wants it to be.Because of his response, I've decided to see what happens. It helps knowing that someone is in my corner. Maybe it's just a team culture that has suffered from being run over by the rest of the company for too long. I know change is hard, and since I took on a brand-new position that the company has not experienced before, that I have to probably exercise some patience when it comes to people being open about what it means to have this new role on the team. I also have learned that I can't compare my old company's culture to this company's culture, even though many of their surface-level attributes are the same.
That sounds like positive progress!@audesw's comment really encapsulated everything I wanted to say, much more eloquently than I would've said it! I experienced the flip situation - I work at a (much earlier stage) startup, and a teammate joined from a more established startup. This person clearly needed more structure than we were used to, and proposed ideas that were probably good and healthy habits for us to develop for the future; however, few of them got implemented because 1) they were perceived as burdensome and somewhat irrelevant for our current stage, 2) not all of them were transferrable due to inherent differences between their old company and our current one, and 3) they added more tasks to a team that is moving at breakneck speed, which would have very much slowed us down.I definitely think process is good, but developing process, from my experience here, has been iterative; you need to see what works/doesn't before you bake in a process. Sounds like your manager is open to exploring the team dynamics and you might be the catalyst for turning the team around!! I would give it some time to see how it shakes out, at least a few months. Best of luck!
Tough situation, I can empathize. I'd suggest staying, too. I got laid off and so forced into a job change and the new role was more money, dynamic team, etc. but the manager was an awful bully. Because I was laid off, I was proud to share the news of the job change over LinkedIn but was feeling so gutted with how poor of a fit it was and regretted posting anything. I left after a few weeks, as it was too toxic. I was lucky to have a mentor in my corner who gave me that perspective (i.e., it was too toxic for me to learn anything, and I wasn't going to be able to thrive in that environment).I took my next job which is more middle of the road in terms of pros/cons, and sounds similar to where you are now. More money, senior role and (on paper) a dream job. The team is chaotic, sometimes the dynamic feels like a high school drama, and my brain is oriented to doing good work and setting up clear processes (rather than spending time fixating on the negative, which is what my manager is prone to do). In short, I like my day to day work and have control over it, but I'm learning nothing from my manager and anytime I have to interact with the team, I leave feeling disappointed.I decided to stay, and am glad I did. The job at 6-8 months was totally different than it was at 2-3 months (I joined remote). It required a lot of letting go (need for processes, expectation of work friendships, expectation of management mentorship, etc.) and I intentionally reoriented my goals: I'd build 2-3 partnerships in the year that I would be proud of, I'd share my work weekly with the team to start to seed in ways to keep accountable and keep myself engaged, as well as show how my processes worked (and hopefully helped), etc. I also set a date to quit. I am holding myself to that, and it's getting me through. In the interim, I've been recruited and offered higher paid work but because of what I've learned at this role, I've been able to be more intentional and decline things that seemed like more of the same. I think in some ways it's really good that you took this leap, because it can teach you what you do/don't want, but you need to stay long enough to understand what that is more deeply, and not run right away because change is always hard no matter what, and this is normal for any transition.For what it's worth, the piece on LinkedIn blew over - a few people I'm not close with followed up with messages asking what I was up to because they noticed I had sent an update but then was at a different company (which I didn't announce) but these were lurkers and not people I care about. I would not worry about that announcement. One other thought - you mentioned that this is "above your experience" in terms of taking a director title. I wonder if you're unconsciously trying to assert leadership where you can just chill a bit more and learn and take on, because of fear about living up to the title. I think in smaller/less organized companies, the title might hold less weight than in a bigger/more corporate entity, so I would try to pay attention to what your self talk is around being a director, and also how that might be coming off to others that you're working to build bridges to.
Agree on the 6-month point. I had been wobbling in a role and then suddenly at 6-months I had a different view on the job and what my plan was for how it would develop my career. I wasn't sure if it was a combination of understanding my new workplace and their way of doing things, finding better ways to interact with my team (especially on how to better manage upwards with my manager and his manager), and starting to make my mark and show value. I didn't think things would click but they really did at that point! I'm not saying I'm 100% happy in my role, but I'm really aware now on how to make it work for me, and what I'm trying to get out of it to move myself ahead in my career!
As a start up founder myself , I think you should give it another month but also really ask yourself if you are fit for start up culture . It takes certain personalities to work In early stage companies even if they have series D funding because the leadership team is what makes the culture of the company. No matter how much money they raise if they are not yet at that stage of product market fit ( you mentioned they pivoted their focus so my guess is they are not ), then there will be a lot of changing plans and on the fly requests , multiple hats to wear Which just the nature of a start up . So if this doesn’t fit your working style then a more established corporate company may be a better fit.
I’m going to say something controversial here and give you some tough love. Have you considered that the situation might be a result of how you handled the communication around the new process with your colleagues?The way you framed it was that “I implementing a new process to curb my coworkers' efforts from adding work to my plate that was not appropriate for them to add to my plate, and more importantly to make sure I was getting the information I needed to be successful in my role”. There are a lot of “I” and “my” statements there and based on how you wrote this it sounds like the new process is about how to make your life easier, rather than improving something for the whole team. In other words, it sounds like you were making this all about you. If that’s the case, I’m not surprised it rubbed told coworkers the wrong way! No one wants to have to follow a new process to make a self centered colleague’s life easier. They probably thought you lacked self awareness and/or were young and naive. In other words, it was tone deaf. This is a good lesson and one you need to learn: it’s not about you, it’s all about the team. You can learn and grow from this by trying to mend fences with your colleagues. Find time to meet one on one and tell them that, upon further reflection you think your suggestion for this new process came off wrong, and you realize you articulated it badly. You want the whole team to succeed and make everyone’s life easier. But if your suggested process doesn’t do that for everyone then you won’t be offended if it isn’t used. It’s all about what’s best for the team. Use this opportunity to listen, learn, and grow. You may even find that owning up to the misstep brings you closer to your colleagues.
Wow, there are a lot of assumptions in your response. The most egregious is calling me self-centered. I also mentioned in my above post: "This process was modeled after a process my old teammates used who loved it because of how well it worked. It made sure we all had the information we needed at the beginning, so it saved time and helped people feel more confident in their work when collaborating. I shared it to the team with the note that the process is by no means perfect and I am open to feedback to make it better for everyone." That isn't self-centered and actively puts the team at the forefront, so I'm not sure why you chose to cherry-pick one statement in my post and ignore the rest?I am not going to pretend that implementing my process would not help me - yes, that's part of the reason why I'm advocating for it, so that I can actually do my job well, which is to help my team be better. But that doesn't mean that I'm a self-centered, young, naive idiot who lacks self-awareness, is tone-deaf, and doesn't listen to people. Leaders can't take care of their teams without taking care of themselves first, especially those in a brand-new position to the company. Anyone who pretends otherwise is on another planet. I spoke to my boss about what I experienced, and he agrees that my teammates' actions were not a productive response and is going to provide me with air cover at our next team meeting since he does actually see the value in how the process I proposed can make people's lives easier, though acknowledges it will take some getting used to. I'm in a new role that is going to have to make some waves in order to get shit done.Writing for advice / venting on a community board asking for advice is a lot different than actually presenting a new idea to coworkers. I left the part about how it would make my life easier and be able to scale my workload to be able to serve the team out of the conversation with my coworkers - I included that HERE for context about my motivations in an environment that is causing me major anxiety to such an extent that I am questioning whether this role is the right fit. Your response also does nothing to answer my actual question of whether I should stay or leave. Thank you, next!
I was going to share a similar response, but based on what you wrote here, I wonder how open you are to feedback. I have been in your position and your team members' position. I have definitely made the mistake of rushing changes (that were objectively good, efficient changes and would help everyone!). It is so important to understand opposing perspectives without shutting them down, because they are just as valid as yours. In the end, it doesn't matter who's right or wrong. It matters whether you are able to build productive working relationships with your team. It is so hard to come into a situation where you manage a team you did not hire and discover that the personalities and working styles don't mesh with yours. But you need to meet them halfway rather than trying to mold them into who you want them to be.Before you make waves and get shit done, you need to build relationships. It seems like you started making changes before taking the time to build that foundation with your team. What does that look like? One-on-one sitdowns to learn about their work, what they see as the challenges, their ideas for improvement, etc. Getting their perspective on the challenges you see and your ideas for improvement before putting together a plan and email-blasting it to everyone. I don't think you should leave at this point - it will make it much harder to get a new job, especially if the reason for your departure becomes known (but even if it doesn't). It sounds like you have a great learning opportunity here if you are ready to take it. I urge you to take the time to really listen to your team members, to understand their perspectives, to show them you're on their side, and to create a win-win path forward. I would steer clear of trying to create a dynamic of you and your manager vs. the team, because they might end up resenting you even more.
Huge +1 to everything you've written here. OP, people are resistant to change, even when they know they need it. That goes double when the advice comes from someone hired above them.Take the time to understand how your team currently operates. What are their pain points? Are there vestigial ways of doing things that have outlived their usefulness? Once you've gained that understanding and trust, you can frame your ideas in terms of your team's pain points. Don't frame your ideas as imports from your old company; it has big, "One time at band camp" energy. Startups are often resistant to "best practices" as a concept. After all, best practices are the language of the monoliths startups are trying to unseat. Even if you're using a trick you learned in a prior role, frame it as a first principles solution to their current problems, not as a raw import from your former life.
Definitely agree with all of the above advice and would say @Rosana22 that being so defensive to genuine feedback is a yellow flag even on an advice community, if you do that at work the reaction will probably be even harsher.I’ve always been promoted very young because I was a super hard worker and did good things but I also made mistakes when I was lacking the maturity needed for the role. I saw that with time and changed, even though in the moment I was trying my best. It seems like this is what’s happening here. It sounds like you haven’t managed a team of 5-6 before. It’s not clear if they are your direct reports or not but either way it sounds like you expect them to take on your initiatives. As a Director one of the most important things you do is build and foster consensus. The result of that consensus is typically better processes but the process is the effect, not the cause. When done in reverse it can still work as a process but people will be upset, feel unheard, start to dislike you and generally make your life harder.The strange thing is that from your post you seem… oblivious to how important it is for your coworkers to accept you as a qualified individual before they do what you want them to. It’s not about them liking you as a person, it’s them believing you know what you’re doing because you took time to learn about the company, team, and them before starting to change their ways of working. This is especially important since you were brought in by a manager through a “rushed” interview process. Basically you’re someone’s contact so people can maybe even assume you didn’t get the job on merit but on connections, especially if you’re much younger than expected.Don’t get me wrong, I have walked in your shoes, I know from inside your head it doesn’t feel like that at all. It feels like you were promoted young because you went above and beyond and people owe you common respect and decency and need to deal with you doing the role. But that’s not what happens unfortunately. It is what it is. Best to accept reality and adapt, not only for your team but for your own wellbeing and growth. It’s not the worst thing to accept that before you decide to stay or go you should decide to change and be a better manager regardless.
I recently moved from big tech to a series B/C startup and while it wasn’t a hot mess, they were in hyper growth and needed to fundamentally shift quite a few systems to enable scale. I took time at the beginning to listen, observe and have conversations across the company to gain perspective and identify patterns. After that initial listening tour (didn’t take long because, startup) I shared back my findings and priorities. That particular approach worked well as my team actively helped shape the priorities. Speaking in broad strokes, bringing people along the change journey is especially important in startup land because people are so connected to each other and to the work. Honoring their past (what got them here) is often required to help manage through change. All that said, I left that role after 7 months because my direct boss turned out to be a bully (no need for details, but the most disempowering experience of my professional life). You can only change yourself and how you engage. Cutting you out of meetings? That’s some petty BS. If you think the company has real potential and the role could really provide you with some great career experience and build your skill set, yes, give it a little more time and think about how you might shift your engagement to see if it produces different results. If the product is unstable (recent pivot?), you don’t like the people and the overall culture is toxic, get out now. Don’t waste another day. Because I personally love books, I strongly recommend The First 90 Days and The Hard Things about Hard Things.
+1 book rec on The First 90 days as a great framework!