This Is Not What I Signed Up For!
I have had multiple discussions with people who are having This Is Not What I Signed Up For Moments.
These people are at all levels who have taken new jobs and found out that the job responsibilities were different than what they expected. I like to say they were seduced to take the job. Now they have to decide whether to get a divorce from their employer.
Sometimes they can negotiate to fix the situation but most of the time a divorce or separation agreement is needed, i.e. they need to find a new job and quit.
When this happens my first question is what did you miss during the interview process?
Sometimes there are red flags that people ignore. Other times the person did not do enough digging. Sometimes we convince ourselves that we can do a job that is really a bad fit. Finally, there may be circumstances that are undetectable like the hiring manager getting fired or let go in the time between accepting the position and starting the new job.
Let me give you a few examples.
CIO Walking into a Toxic Mess
Cynthia was an accomplished CIO who was an excellent IT problem solver. She had gone as far as she could in her previous position in moving the company’s IT operation into the new world of cloud computing before her boss said stop. She grew frustrated and decided to leave.
She then sought out a new position where she could modernize a company’s IT infrastructure. The management team of a medium-sized manufacturing business pursued her and promised her free range to be able to modernize the IT infrastructure.
After she took the position it became evident very quickly that there were competing interests across the enterprise to prevent this from happening. The politics were ferocious between finance, manufacturing, and engineering.
This is not what she signed up for! What did she miss?
Cynthia was only talking with IT management and the CEO. She was hearing what the CEO and IT management wanted her to hear. She really needed to speak with the heads of others within the organization that would be affected by the changes she was in charge of.
Cynthia left on her own accord for a new job in less than a year.
Audit Heaven to Audit Hell
Gary was a consultant who used the practice of financial audit to help companies improve their processes. He was a great leader and had an excellent reputation for bringing change using a gentle hand. He had the knack for finding flaws in the process and then convince his clients it was in their best interest to make changes that were not always easy to do.
The problem was Gary had a wife and children that were wondering what he looked like. He was gone a lot.
Gary decided to take an internal audit position with a company that was in an industry he was very familiar with. He was told they wanted him to be a strong leader.
Gary was used to having a free hand in making changes. He quickly discovered that he could not change ANYTHING. They had a process that was rigid but very flawed. Gary tried to lead some initiatives to fix some of those flaws and each time his hand was slapped by his boss. He heard every time, do what you are told and stop trying to fix things.
9 months after starting the position Gary was let go. He is looking for a new job.
This is not what he signed up for! What did he miss?
He saw red flags during the interview process but ignored them.
Gary had seduced himself that he could go from being an audit consultant where he advised to being an internal auditor where he was directly responsible for the outcome. As a consultant, he enjoyed freedom but most internal auditors are expected to follow the rules. It was not a good fit.
In hindsight, Gary should have never accepted this position.
My Sales Quota is What?
Sam had been a B2B sales guy for many years. Sometimes it was in new business development and other times he was in account management which is sometimes called customer success these days.
Sam took several years off to take care of his elderly parents. After both of his parents had passed away he was hired by a distributor for products sold to the utility industry. It was a small team of sales people that had worked together for years.
It was very evident from day 1 that he was an outsider and would always be an outsider. Multiple people had been hired for this position and each left in less than a year. When he received his first commission check and it was half of what he was expecting it was a kick in the gut.
When he asked why the check was so small, he was told there was a typo in his offer letter.
The problem was that the company was unethical in its practices with him. This is why the people who proceeded him left in less than a year.
Sam is looking for a new job.
This is not what he signed up for! What did he miss?
He should have looked for turn over in this position and this is fairly easy to spot on LinkedIn. Search for past employees with the company who had job titles similar to the one you are interviewing for. Reach out and ask them why they left.
You would be surprised at the number of people who will talk to you.
It is your responsibility to research a company.
How to Prevent This is Not What You Signed Up For Moments
You can be seduced into a job and I have experienced this. This can be prevented by:
- Know thyself
- Doing your homework
- Following your instincts
It is your responsibility to dig deep into the organization to find out whether what you are being told is true. This is done through the interview process and online research.
Hopefully, you know yourself well enough that you will not take a position that is not well suited for you. Unfortunately, that is not always the case. I use myself as an example when I went off to teach high school math in an inner-city high school. Listen to this podcast episode From High-Tech Training to High School Teacher, and Why I Left. [Podcast]. I had convinced myself I was an extrovert when I am really a closet introvert.
Lastly, follow your gut as it is usually right. If it does not smell right then something is usually wrong.
Has this happened to you? If so, tell us about it in the comment section below.