Feel like you don’t fit into your procurement team? Here’s what to do

There’s no “I” in “team” – so if you feel like you’re on your own, here are five steps you can take right now.


There’s a lively kitchen chat going on … but you just don’t have anything to contribute. Everyone’s going out for lunch … but you don’t want to sit in awkward silence while everyone laughs and you feel miserable. Everyone around you is getting praised and promoted … but there seems to be some elusive recipe for success that you just don’t get.

Whatever the reason, feeling like you don’t fit in at work is the worst. And given how important good relationships and cultural fit are to succeeding in your career, not fitting in can be detrimental in more ways than one. So what should you do? 

Here’s the five steps you should take if you feel like you and your workplace are just not a match: 

1. Identify if there really is a problem

Given that the average person will spend 90,000 hours at work in their lifetime, it’s fair to say that our careers take a significant proportion of our waking hours. And given that, it’s normal – expected, even – that we place a lot of importance on our work relationships. But things don’t need to be smooth sailing all the time. 

At work, you are inevitably going to clash with some people, and not get along at all with others. This happens to every person in every workplace, and isn’t the same as not fitting in. In fact, if you’re a person who highly values being liked and admired, and also is prone to overthinking, your feelings of not fitting in may be more of an issue with your self-esteem than anything else. 

However, if you are genuinely experiencing any of the following: ongoing animosity, a lack of respect, or priority differences that make it challenging to enjoy your work, then you may have a problem. In a nutshell, you need to ask yourself: Am I popular and do I feel comfortable going to work every day? The answer to the former can be no, but the answer to the latter should be an unequivocal yes. 

2. Focus on your good relationships

If you’ve decided that you really don’t fit in at work, then the next step is to try and minimise that feeling. And one of the best ways to do that is to focus more on your positive relationships. 

Given that the human mind is hard-wired to focus on the negative, it’s likely that if you feel like you don’t fit in, this could be because of a few bad relationships, as opposed to all of your relationships.  One way to counteract this feeling is to focus on your good relationships and try and strengthen them. 

In order to do this, leadership coach Marian Thier recommends that you do the following: 

  1. Draw five concentric circles
  2. Put the names of the five people you deal with the most in those circles 
  3. Draw an arrow to indicate how information flows. Add red lines for difficult relationships, and green ones for more harmonious ones. 
  4. Assess why your green relationships are working better. Continue to consciously and consistently focus on these relationships. 

By focusing on your great relationships, you can start to cultivate a better sense of fitting in. 

3. Put yourself out there 

It’s no secret that the modern workplace can be a challenge for us quieter folk, and that if we’re naturally introverted, it can be easy to feel intimidated by our louder and more extroverted colleagues. 

This feeling can easily spiral into feeling like you don’t fit in, but the fact of the matter is that your colleagues simply may not really know you. 

Given the importance of relationships at work, if you feel this way, it’s important to try and put yourself out there – even a little. It doesn’t need to be in the most intimidating setting, either. If you don’t enjoy large groups, try small things like inviting a colleague for coffee, or attending an after-work event. Even small connections made, like a chat in the office kitchen, can help you connect with people and feel as if you’re establishing common ground. 

4. Give a little, take a little 

If you feel as if you don’t fit in at work, it’s often easy to conclude that there’s a problem with you. But the reality is that ‘you’ – and your values, behaviours and communication style – are as immutable as you might think. In fact, it isn’t uncommon for people to have what’s called a ‘professional personality’ and this personality may be slightly different from the outside-of-work you. Also, in good news, it’s possible to mold this personality over time. 

While no one should ever feel as if they need to fundamentally change to fit in at work, if you do feel constant animosity from your colleagues, try to change up your communication style. Perhaps you could ask more questions of colleagues to try to get to know them personally? Maybe you could be more thorough in how you communicate, and try to more often find common ground? If you’re not fitting in, then it’s always important to try to give a little to see if you can strengthen your relationships. 

5. Make the difficult choice 

One of the key factors in our happiness at work, beyond our manager, is our ability to feel as if we’re a cultural fit at work. This factor helps contribute to how engaged and productive we are, and ultimately, how successful our careers will be. So if you’ve tried analysing your situation, working on your relationships, putting yourself out there, and also giving a little, and you still don’t feel as if you fit it, then it might be time to cut your losses and look for a new role. 

At the end of the day, and no matter where you are in your career, you don’t want to spend any more of your 90.000 hours feeling as if you’re at a place you shouldn’t be. 

Have you experienced not fitting in at work? What did you do to rectify the situation? Let us know in the comments below.

Find more Career Development news, insights, and best practises at Procurious.com.

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