Should I take a good job when I know I dislike the work culture?
May 29, 2007 9:02 PM   Subscribe

How to weigh an appealing job offer against an unappealing organizational culture?

I've worked at my current organization (a nonprofit) for several years and am very frustrated with the politics & organizational culture. I've been offered a new job within the organization which I would jump at if I read the job description and didn't know what it was like to work here. In the new job, I would be fairly sheltered from the politics and would really like and respect my immediate coworkers, but of course the larger organization would stay the same. My main objection to the culture is that it is very closed and secretive - people do not have an instinct for openness and collaboration is not valued.

I have reasonably valuable skills and experience; with some looking I could get a good job elsewhere in my city. That had been my plan before I got this offer. But I know there are ugly politics in all organizations, and it's very hard to get a handle on the culture of a place before you start a job.

How much weight should I give to my concerns about the organizational culture? And if I do start looking externally, how can I investigate the culture of other prospective employers?
posted by anonymous to Work & Money (9 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
I think the biggest indicator of your potential happiness would be your immediate supervisor. There is a saying: people don't quit companies, they quit bosses.

A good boss can make a bad organization bearable, but a bad boss can make working for even a great organization unbearable.
posted by The Deej at 9:33 PM on May 29, 2007 [3 favorites]

I've learned that it's exceedingly difficult to find a company that I'm 100% on board for. It sounds like the job is more interesting than the company, but there are ways of maintaining that. People have been doing it for a long long time and it doesn't have to wind up like a soap opera.
posted by rhizome at 12:21 AM on May 30, 2007

What's to weigh? Perhaps you're overthinking the issue.

You're working there now and it sounds like you haven't started looking elsewhere yet. You were looking for change anyway but don't have a job for another company lined up just yet. So why not go for it?

Give it some time, see how you like it and if it turns out to be as horrid as your current job, start looking elsewhere like you were planning on doing before this opportunity presented itself.
posted by l'esprit d'escalier at 2:16 AM on May 30, 2007

Good coworkers in a dysfunctional office can make a huge difference, as long as you guys as a unit can still get stuff done. I've worked at places I wouldn't recommend overall, except for certain departments that somehow manage to cut through the crap. Try it for a year, see what happens!
posted by footnote at 5:57 AM on May 30, 2007

Life's too short to work with assholes. Organizations that allow assholes to take over lose their good people (maybe like you) to places that have the character to stand up to the asshole menace. If there's a safe haven in your company where the assholes haven't infiltrated, work there. If not, go somewhere else.
posted by answergrape at 6:44 AM on May 30, 2007

Sounds like my organization! The culture of secrecy is kind of absurd here.

But, I like my boss and immediate coworkers very much. So I'm sticking around for the time being. On a level I think of it as an interesting opportunity to learn to navigate fairly challenging organizational politics, always a good skill & one I'm able to work on while at least knowing my own team has my back.
posted by citron at 9:17 AM on May 30, 2007

It sounds like your 'tribe' will appreciate you and you can be happy there. Take the job, get the experience and the paycheck and move on when it becomes unbearable.

Any job is as much what you make of it as anything else.
posted by valentinepig at 10:36 AM on May 30, 2007

Investigating the culture of other potential employers: I am a big fan of the informational interview. MOst companies allow them, and even encourage them. Contact the HR dept of a company you want to learn about and find out who is willing to do these. You'll definitely get a bit of a singular opinion of the company because they won't let just anyone do it, but you will can judge for yourself after the interview.

Otherwise, it's word of mouth. I get a lot of 'info' about employers on the disc golf course.
posted by valentinepig at 10:39 AM on May 30, 2007

Do you really think it's hard to get a feel for the culture of the place? My current place, I knew my boss was a really good person and that I'd learn a lot from him, basically from our first phone call. I've gotten a gut reaction from most places I've interviewed.
posted by salvia at 10:45 PM on May 30, 2007

« Older Name This Sporting Event: Cannon + Obstacle Course   |   Teaching in Canada Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.