Tech & Work

Help, my new job is not what I expected!

An employee, new to the company, feels a chilly reception from his boss and co-workers despite the fact that he was wooed in the interview process.

I received an email from a TechRepublic member who described a problem he was having at work. Apparently, the honeymoon period on his new job was short-lived, if existent at all.

The disappointed new hire, I'll call him Dexter, was practically wooed by HR and by the hiring manager for which he now works. The job functions and company culture were played up during the interview process. His skills were lauded and the hiring manager even accepted Dexter's counter-offer on salary.

Going in to the office on his first day of work, Dexter, understandably, felt like he was going to be a highly respected and valued member of the team. But reality fell short of his expectations. It seemed to him that from day one, his manager intentionally downplayed all of his ideas and his skills.

You know, I wish I could say that this was the first time I've heard of this happening, but it's not. Of course, I don't have both sides of the story so I'm only guessing on Dexter's specific situation, but here are some things I would look at.

Did he go in with his guns blazing? In other words, after having been built up in the interview process, did Dexter have an inflated view of his importance to the organization? I wrote a blog a while back on how to be the new employee. Basically, you can't go barging in on your first day and tell everyone how you think things should be done, criticizing the existing infrastructure. No matter how esteemed you were made to feel in the interview, no one will appreciate that kind of introduction. Also, without taking time to observe the interactions among employees and the general political lay of the land, you could be inadvertently crossing some lines you don't even know about.

Now, let's say Dexter is a cool guy, and he came into the situation slow and easy. There are some psychological issues going on at the workplace that he has no control over. For example, maybe his co-workers have found out that he asked for and got a bigger salary. (Believe me when I say that nothing surprises me anymore in regard to managerial indiscretions.) In that case, those guys may be prematurely set against you, and nothing you can do (other than the passage of time) will change it.

There is also another kind of passive-aggressive play at work. Every manager wants to hire that technically gifted genius, but without the ego. Even though our Dexter may be the most unassuming guy in the world, there may be some underlying, subconscious tendency for the manager to try to "keep him in check." I'm not saying that's good — I've just seen it happen.

I would advise Dexter first to examine his own behavior — check the tone of his emails or what he says in meetings — to see if he's being a little pushy. If not, then it could be that he has stepped into a pit of jealous vipers and needs to see if things change over time. If not, it might not be the best place for him.


Toni Bowers is Managing Editor of TechRepublic and is the award-winning blogger of the Career Management blog. She has edited newsletters, books, and web sites pertaining to software, IT career, and IT management issues.

Editor's Picks