• Gustavo Serbia

Are You Comparing Your Current Employer to Your Previous One? This May Be Hurting You


A few years back, I called a friend seeking advice after I joined a new company.

I was having a hard time adjusting to the change, to the way things were being done compared to my prior experiences. It was not about inappropriate or unethical behavior; nothing about compromising morals. I just did not understand why, and I thought things could be done better.

My prior experiences convinced me that my new employer was behind other companies and that many of the activities and processes required were inefficient, not in line with new and better ways I was aware of and had experienced before. It just didn’t make sense.

I regularly provided ideas and ways to do it better. I told them how I had learned from my previous companies. I compared how they did things and showed them where they were falling short hoping to make an impact and help them improve. However, I was not gaining traction. On the contrary, I started to feel their dismissal, their frustration.

After I explained this to my friend, she said; “Gustavo, let me ask you. How would you feel if your girlfriend compared you to her prior boyfriend? (Pause) And not only does she compare you, but says to you how much better her previous boyfriend was? How would you react?" I quickly defended myself saying “but that is not what I am doing, I am trying to help." My friend insisted “but that is not what I asked you. I asked what do you feel about what she is doing.” (Pause. Think) I responded that “I would question why she left her prior boyfriend; I would question why she is with me. “Exactly,” she said. “Perhaps your co-workers are feeling the same way. Even worse, they may be thinking you believe you are better than them, and therefore, you do not care about helping them improve.” (Pause. Think. S*@t)

It is natural to compare and contrast employers (even partners). However, careful how you go about it, how often you do it, and with whom you share the comparisons. You prior experiences, the skills you gained, the knowledge you have, are all part of your toolbox. YOUR TOOLBOX, your experiences, not theirs. This is why your toolbox must be put through the lens of your employer, your co-workers, and your boss, so you can evaluate what is relevant to them so that you can determine possible actions that they may find useful.

At times, your prior experiences may not be what is needed, and you will be required to make adjustments. To approach your new employer from your perspective alone, may leave you falling short. Also, instead of saying “at my old company we…” so often that you annoy or alienate people, try “why don’t we consider this” or “have you tried this or that.” ask more and speak less (I remind myself this all the time). Seek first to understand.

Finally, your approach may also create the perception that you are not one who easily adapts to new ways, so proceed with caution.

My friend is right. End of story.

Your journey, your career. Own it.

If you want your question answered, email me at gus@stretchthestring.com

"The most important instrument to your career development, growth, and success is you. Therefore, you must work to stretch beyond your comfort zone, fine tune what you have to offer, and must do so continuously." - Gustavo Serbia

The opinions I express are completely mine and do not reflect those of my current or previous employers.

I work in human resources. I also Stretch the String, dedicated to career development, human resources, management, and leadership. For more on my content follow me on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Instagram or at stretchthestring.com. I will respond to your comments and feedback.

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