Hi all,

Question on fitting in with my new team. I work for a large tech/engineering firm, and a couple of months ago I got a promotion to a management role, although I am one of the few in my new department who does not have directs (I'm a program manager). I understand the rule about working to fit in, and have been trying to do so. However, the team of managers I'm now on is very tight-knit and well, they're not letting me in.

I worried about this off the bat and hope it didn't sway my behavior: this team has known each other and worked together for years; they all are married with kids (I'm a divorced single parent). While they are fairly nice to me, as soon as the first week they would do things like go to lunch together without extending me an invite. I didn't pay much mind as I'm new and figured they had their routine. However, it's been over 60 days and it keeps happening. Strange, to say the least. I'm pleasant and friendly as far as I can tell; I'm not sure what else I can do.

The other issue is that as a program manager, I've got a few of their directs on my project teams. I believe in delivering positive feedback for jobs well done (I do always let their managers know, of course); that seems to have ruffled some feathers, as I don't think the people managers deliver much in the way of positive feedback. In a recent all-team meeting, one of the newer PMs took a moment to thank me for managing his recent project, he said he felt I was a great addition to our new department, which caused my coworkers in the room to shoot each other some looks, which I caught.

The person on my team who does the job most closely related to mine is a brilliant guy (strong engineering background and also great at project management, which is rare in our field), but tends to be overly negative and more than once I've heard him deliver negative feedback to team members openly. He is also quick with nasty comments about other team members behind their backs in meetings (I have zero doubt he's doled out plenty about me when I'm not there). This obviously isn't something I admire, but I refuse to get down in the mud with him and he's taken note of my insistence on changing the subject when he starts down this road. 

I guess my question is, how do I "fit in" in a situation like this? As i move up the ladder, more and more folks are out for promotions and I've already had one idea stolen (I let it go but took note of who it was and won't be failing to cc my boss on any further emails regarding project ideas). How do I keep working towards acceptance while maintaining my own standards and beliefs (such as the importance of delivering positive feedback to project team members for jobs well done), without ruffling feathers and inspiring the ire of my coworkers? 

Thanks in advance for any advice.




DJ_150's picture

This is a tough question- how do you fit in when you see a lot of things you believe to be wrong? I have been there before and have to admit I did not handle it well. Keep being pleasant and friendly for sure. Maybe you could ask some or all of the team to go to lunch or intiate other ways to get to know them better.

Generally spearking, I wonder if this type of conflict is a sign to re-assess the company or position you are in. Will have to re-listen to some of the 90 Day New Job Plan casts to try to find more insight. Am interested in others thoughts on this also.

SeaGal2015's picture

Hi there -

Thank you for your feedback. I actually re-listened to the "First 90 Days" 'casts on the way home from work yesterday, and it's helping a bit more. I think what's tough in this particular situation is that the new team of actual coworkers is super tiny, and very tight-knit. I came from a large and very competitive department of individual contributors (many of them just out of grad school), so it's kind of "out of the frying pan and into the fire." That said, I believe I have some fault here, as I think I've been trying a bit too hard to suppress my personality (I'm a very High D, High I) and be quiet/friendly - that's fine, but this is a group of High D's and I think that part of what is happening is that they assume I'm introverted or shy, which doesn't really fit into their dynamic. That's not me at all; however, in the past I've been told I can come across far too pushy or overbearing, so I suppose I tried to temper that and maybe went too far the other way.

Interestingly, I've been reading about authenticity at work - and this is the first time I've tried a more passive approach. I guess there's a lesson here: not only is it not authentic, but I think others can sense it and "fitting in" does not, of course, mean not being who you are. I adore the position that I have and even the group; they've all got big personalities, and with all High D's I should feel right at home. I see my own mistake now, and will work to rectify that.

As for the negativity and lack of feedback (managers with directs), well, I'll let them own that. It's not how I "roll," and I certainly won't alter my integrity or behavior wih my project teams. Thanks again for your feedback, it made me think!

scm2423's picture

The first thought I had after reading your not is what can you control here and focus on that.  Its sounds like you are there already, so stay the course.  Continue to focus on maintaining your own standards, develivery postive feedback and building relationships with their directs.  

You cannot control their actions - being left out of lunch invites; their eye-rolling or talking negative about you.  That shows more about them than you.


SeaGal2015's picture

Yes, learning to let go of what I cannot control is a big lesson here. It was also a lesson in my last department, which was very competitive and had quite a few "unique players." What you say is the truth: to continue to focus on my own behavior, and maintaining my own standards. As I said to the poster above, part of the fault is with me, as I've been trying a bit *too hard* to fit in, to the detriment of my own personality. People can smell that and they hate inauthenticity. I'm going to quit doing that and honestly, I'll be polite but I'm certainly not going to temper my (positive) behavior towards the teams.

I'm also not sure that I can actually "fit in" such a tiny, tight-knit group who doesn't seem to be too keen on outsiders to begin with. Like I said, I'll be polite but I'm not going to try and keep asking them about their families when they don't do the same in return, or - like a coworker the other day - they pretend not to know I have children when I've mentioned them at least a dozen times in casual conversation. Come on. 

I'm also going to continue the positive feedback and stay the course. I think this just shook me a bit; I've learned a few things here, and I intend to continue to stay true to myself and my goals. And by the way, our manager is an executive who doesn't have a ton of time to people-manage, which also contributes to some of this. It is what it is and I'm appreciative for the opportunity and the learning. Love the job; I'll make sure I do it to the absolute best of my ability, regardless of my team. 

Thanks again for your feedback. 

mkirk's picture
Licensee Badge

In a tricky work situation myself, I'm encouraged and inspired by your attitude, SeaGal2015.


Thank you.