ask the readers: my new job has an incredibly negative office culture

Throwing this one out to readers to answer while I’m away. A reader writes:

I recently changed jobs, a bit of a sidestep move to a slightly larger non profit arts organization. I was extremely excited for this opportunity when I took the position. This is the field I’m interested and dedicated to supporting, it’s a leadership role, and the staff seemed genuinely excited when I arrived. Sadly, this initial excitement quickly diminished in just 3 months and I’m feeling a bit disappointed by the experience.

The problem isn’t the work itself, but the staff and office culture. The staff is intensely negative and mean-spirited to each other as well as to the artists the organization supports. For example, the director will say cruel things about the artists behind their backs in staff meetings. Some staff members told me that the previous director would yell not only at the staff but the board members as well. Many seem extremely sensitive and prickly because of this kind of negative leadership. The other day, one staff member became overly defensive when I simply checked in about a deadline we had set for a small project. It saddens me because from what I can tell, my colleagues’ negativity stem from bad experiences in the past, which I am only just starting to uncover. I’m a fiercely positive person but I’m starting to catch myself thinking and speaking negatively as well… I’m working hard to combat those urges.

I was so eager to take on a new opportunity and tackle new challenges, I just never anticipated that the challenge would be a negative work environment. Could this just be some growing pains as I adjust to a new office culture? Or should I accept that this might not be the right culture fit and start to look for another job?

Readers, what do you say?

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