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Culture Shock: Leaving a Dysfunctional Workplace for a Well-Run Workplace

You've worked in a highly-dysfunctional workplace for far too long, and now you're off to a new workplace that doesn't run on drama, infighting and backbiting. Even better, your new co-workers are happy people who communicate well, and management actually smiles!

Your new boss is definitely not the same as the old boss. For you, it's a huge culture change that begs the question: how will you put this happy, highly-functional workplace in perspective?


Anyone who works long enough will transition from a highly-toxic work environment to a well-run workplace. No workplace is perfect -- there will always be some level of tension when you put random people together in an office -- but your new workplace's problems already seem far less dramatic and intense than the problems you encountered at your previous workplace. There's a big difference between wondering why your co-worker eats smelly food at his desk and wondering why your co-worker always sets you up for failure.


It's a new day. You can breathe more easily now, a big weight has been lifted off your hard-working shoulders, and you no longer have to wait for the other shoe to drop! In fact, you might feel like a different person as you walk to through the doors of this new employer. You like the new you, too.

Five Tips For Adjusting to the Well-Run Workplace
Still, the well-run workplace might feel a bit jarring at first, simply because it lacks the heated drama, infighting and constant chaos you experienced at your last job. Your new teammates actually work together as a team. What to make of all this? Here are five tips for adjusting to a well-run, emotionally healthy work environment after being put through the proverbial wringer at your last job(s):

1. Give yourself time to adjust. You've just experience a huge shift in your work life, and it's going to take awhile to get used to a workplace that isn't nearly as dysfunctional. Give yourself permission to take it one day at a time. Take cues from your new workmates and follow their lead. Nobody at your former place of employment ever said, "good morning," but your new co-workers say it and ask how you're doing today. Then they actually listen to your answer. Wow, what a foreign concept. Don't worry; you'll get used to normal interaction rather quickly.

2. Strive to be more of an optimist. Your old workplace thrived on pessimism and a variety of negative emotions. You'll need to shake off this negative paradigm to start with a blank slate. Force yourself to see the workplace as glass half full instead of glass half empty. You'll need to retrain your way of thinking, but in the long run you'll be better off for it!

3. Let your guard down a little bit. Keeping your guard up was par for the course at your previous job. You didn't know who you could trust, after all. Think about the ways you might bring more of yourself to work at this new job. Placing a small family photo on your desk can feel like a small, but big, change if you couldn't do it at your last job. Your new co-workers actually like to laugh, so feel free to flash your sense of humor, too!

4. Don't complain about your old workplace. It can be tempting to share your worst stories from a highly-dysfunctional workplace with your new co-workers. It's best not to reveal much, however. As humans, we're always interested in gossip, but sharing too much about a previous employer isn't very professional. It's best to tread carefully here.

5. Be grateful. You've been given a chance to excel at a new workplace that has its management act together. Good for you! Your past workplaces have made you a stronger, more thoughtful employee. Dysfunctional workplaces can teach us a lot about business and human behavior. Take the life lessons you've learned from your previous job and apply them going forward. Focus on the positive, and feel grateful for this new opportunity. You've certainly earned it.

Transitioning from a highly-dysfunctional workplace to a well-run workplace can be done. Realize that it will take a few days (or weeks) to get used to a friendlier, happier, more normal work environment. Looking back, this could be one of the best career moves you'll ever make. I'm so happy for you. Good luck, relax and have fun!

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