How to Survive Working for Big Companies

15th October 2019Business Coaching

Big Companies

Big companies attract the best and brightest talent

It’s no secret that talented people are drawn to the world’s big companies.

Opportunities abound to:

  • Work on pioneering projects
  • Gain access to state-of-the-art tools and equipment
  • Undergo structured training and personal development
  • Meet experienced, smart people -often leaders in their field
  • Travel widely and get exposure to new working environments

Big companies face big challenges

Working for big companies, you’re going to have to confront the same three issues:

  • Complexity
  • Silos
  • Bureaucracy

It’s what slows down the giants of the business world.

Also, it’s why some of the brightest people with the best ideas prefer to work for smaller, more agile and more human companies. Or, have founded their very own start-ups.

And why big companies are now teaming up with smaller and more innovative partners to cut through complexity, sidestep silos and breakdown bureaucracy.

Complexity, silos, and bureaucracy

No business school, no matter how good, is going to teach you how to deal with these challenges.

The school of hard knocks has taught me how to respond:


Don’t fall into the trap of overcomplicating. Avoid joining the zero-sum game of trying to impress with your fancy analytics, over-detailed reports, prolific use of business acronyms, and finely polished PowerPoint presentations.

At its heart, business is simple. If you don’t express things simply, have a rethink and KISS. (Keep it simple, stupid)

After all, simplicity is the new holy grail in big business. Indeed, Simon Collinson and Melvin Jay estimate in their book From Complexity to Simplicity that complexity could be costing them on average 10% of their profits.

KPMG, one of the world’s leading consulting firms have even adopted the slogan “cutting through complexity”. Thereby, they underline how they help big companies to clarify their core purpose and simplify their operations.


Have you noticed how In large organisations there always seem to be companies within companies?

There are cliques, in-crowds, those in the know or on the fast track. And of course, far too many people who keep information to themselves.

Don’t be like them. Be a communicator, a connector, a sharer. A butterfly that floats across your big company pollinating good ideas and bringing diverse people with different viewpoints together.

The more people that refuse to be penned in by organisational structure or groupthink the better.


The bigger the company, the greater the organisational challenges and the more complex the governance rules. Unless you are at the top or near the top of the company, it can be hard to free yourself from burdensome bureaucracy.

But here’s the bottom-line. Many of these rules and regulations grew over time. Some of them are now outdated and sometimes even serve no useful purpose. Worst still, those who can change this are probably not even aware.

The Harvard Business Review highlighted the need for an end of bureaucracy In addition, they published what they learned about bureaucracy from a survey of over 7000 of their readers in 2018.

So, it makes sense to question constructively hidebound policies that limit creativity and put the brakes on innovation.

In so doing, don’t just point out the issues, propose solutions. Do this and you might just find that layers of bureaucracy peel away like useless layers of dead skin.

In summary

Love them or loathe them big companies will always be here to stay.

Either work from within to make them more human. Or join the new wave of smaller companies working in partnership with the big firms or fighting hard to disrupt their dominance.