How you know you joined a Risky company: 5 signs

“If you can do a half-assed job of anything, you’re a one-eyed man in a kingdom of the blind.”
― Kurt Vonnegut

It’s been a while since I wrote an article about our HR and overall business topics. To get back into action I thought to myself what article would be a good one to serve a better advisor than usual. I’ve been hearing a lot about early red flags when joining a new company so I decided to dive right into it. We’re going to list a dozen of early signs a risky company shows it’s not an organization you should have joined. We have Anna, a candidate who enters the selection process with a prospect company which holds a respectable brand. She likes what she hears, the presentation of the company and the offer are more than enough for her next step and the excitement only gets bigger as she finally receives the offer. Her first day is okay, as it usually is, she gets the most basic info about the company premises, colleagues, company equipment etc. However, the next couple of days when the onboarding is supposed to start in order to fill her in on the company procedures, workload and all other aspects to dive right into to job responsibility, is nowhere to be found. There is no real manager who leads the operation, there is no structure or hierarchy to adhere to and know what measures have to be taken to start and be successful performance-wise. Anna soon finds out that she is left to her own devices and that the company which presented itself as something on superior level is nothing of that sort unfortunately. She also finds out very quickly that her supposed line manager isn’t very skilled and equipped to lead. Anna realizes after a month that she made a huge mistake. Risky company indeed.

Before we dive into the list, it’s important to mention that this doesn’t apply to start-up companies where it’s quite clear that aforementioned aspects are normal and considered obstacles which have to be conquered in order for a start-up to become an effective company. No, this applies to organizations which have a long lasting brand, companies which have a big number of employees, a known success in overall business etc. Without further ado, let’s begin.

1. The company doesn’t have a leader on-site – risky company

It’s no mistake this is the first red flag you’re going to encounter in a problematic company. There is so much importance and obvious requirement in leadership which we covered in numerous topics before that we don’t have to delve on it much. It’s quite simple actually, if there is no captain on the ship, who is going to navigate us to a goal or cause? Without the leader, there is no goal and without the goal there is no performance – without performance, there is no company. A person who is managing the business or the company’s employees has to be ever present to motivate them and remind them of the goals and what needs to be done for a successful business. Communication is another aspect which a leader has to be a master of. No employee will respect a company without hearing the voice of its leader.

2. Weak manager(s) with no leadership skills – risky company

Another leadership aspect is with the managers in the company. More often than not, wrong people are placed as the leaders of employees, people who are lacking necessary soft skills and social intelligence to lead others into success, never-mind the ability and competence to perform a job responsibility. What happens with that situation is chaos because there is no structure and planning of job activities and employees don’t know whom to turn to so they start acting on their own which is often ineffective in overall performance. The company culture starts to diminish and toxic environment ensues. It’s absolutely vital to have the right people at leadership positions.

3. Employees with weak competencies for the positions they hold – risky company

This aspect of a risky comoany is more prevalent in today’s working environment, I’m sure everyone would agree. But when you see a blatant placement of a profile with no prior experience whatsoever in the field in question, you know something is very wrong. The person making such a decision isn’t making a right move for yourself or for the company. Imagine a person who has been fighting for a position for 15 years vs. a person without experience getting that same position. Uh, the arrogance and disrespect towards anything in professional working environment…

4. Managers mixing private life (bias) with professional – risky company

This boils down to managers being friends with the people they work with and then have no spine making professional decisions which go against said employees. A lot of aspects suffer with this picture, namely the company culture, employee morale/motivation, basic respect for other employees and in the end, performance of the company as a whole. This sign is connected with the second one where a manager has to have a soft skill which enables them to separate emotion from fact in a professional working environment in such a way that will benefit the employees and the company itself.

5. A presence of mobbing or a personal attack on yourself – risky company

This is obviously an extreme example but a lot of people have experienced it and it’s a clear sign of a risky company. You know things have hit the fan when your line manager is trying to pin a situation on you which will get you fired. In simpler terms, they are trying to take you out. With everything else mentioned in this article it’s no wonder this would be the last straw with a profile who is in charge of people or an organization. In practice, an example of it would be a business which is not going so well and the layoffs are in effect to preserve the budget. Your competence doesn’t mean anything if you stepped on someone’s toes, and I mean toes which have no problem taking you out with no remorse. This includes lying, gas lighting, putting words in your mouth, inverting the facts etc. – from their side. If you sniff out such a character as your manager, do yourself a favor and leave asap. You will save your dignity and ditch the incurable toxicity.


These signs represent the pillars of many smaller signs which can be discussed at length so in essence, it’s a short summary on what to look after when joining a new risky company. All these signs represent a low standard of competence in any of the business topics and should be avoided at all cost. No amount of money or quality of the job offer will save you from the inevitable burnout you might experience following these aspects. It’s important to be observant. There is only so much observance you can display when in selection process but keep an open eye for these and you will know whether to stay or leave.

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