11/23/2018

Leaving an established player to join a start-up: A rocky change

Will I fit in? What do superiors and colleagues think of me? How can I make a difference? Changing jobs is always a venture into the unknown. More likely than not, you (or your staff) will wonder whether you fit in. The situation gets particularly difficult when you leave an established company to join a start-up, or vice versa. So, be prepared to encounter a few obstacles – but don’t worry.

Turning things inside out

When you leave a corporation to join a start-up, chances are you'll experience some of the things my friend Jonas went through: He found his new colleagues to be pompous, ignorant, and in general somewhat weird. Well, the latter feeling was mutual – at least that's what he heard through the grapevine. They thought him old-fashioned, backward, and somewhat slow. Everyone concerned knew right away: Jonas just didn't fit into that start-up’s culture. If it hadn't been for his ambitions, Jonas would have thrown the towel and resigned. But he had big plans: he wanted to engineer a turnaround in the company's history. Nothing less. "Work hard, dream big," as they say. So how did he manage to get those obstacles out of the way and pursue his goals? He was lucky his manager did just the right thing: he responded to Jonas's individual situation. Instead of making accusations or giving well-meaning advice, he asked a few distinct questions. This led Jonas to reflect and change his perspective. To this date it still helps him to distinguish what works and what doesn’t. And to see obstacles as an opportunity.

No cure-all ...

His manager accomplished all that because he had the right coaching tools at his fingertips. He helped Jonas realize that he wouldn’t be able to turn around the company’s culture overnight. Culture, after all, is something that can't be influenced directly. There are indirect ways to change it, levers you can pull – but that can take longer than Jonas had expected. Mind you: If you want your staff to review processes, break down silos, and develop people, you're going to need more than coaching tools. Still, using them is the first important step to get your people off to a good start.

... and no speed limit

All things considered, a change of perspective can be very valuable: In an established corporate setting, it can be refreshing to view things from a start-up perspective – and on the other hand, a start-up can benefit from the experience gained in a corporate setting. So, who knows what you and your team will be able to achieve, once you manage to integrate new staff into your culture and give them the space to drive changes – at just the right speed for your organization? Challenge accepted?

First published in StartupValley.

Back