Rant & Advice Needed - What Am I Doing Wrong in My Career?

TLDR I feel like I have no luck in my career. Am I doing anything wrong?

Turning to OzB to get your advice on how can one effectively progress in his/her career. I feel like I am doing something wrong as my progress is as slow as a snail.

I started my career in a state owned firm. Everyone was pretty relax. It was a 9-5 culture with lots of breaks and chats during work hours, and people gave me weird looks when I stayed back late to finish my work. Entry pay was really good, but I wasn't happy as it wasn't based on performance. I worked real hard in my first year as a fresh graduate, just to find out that my manager had recommended I receive twice the salary increase compared to other graduates but was turned down by HR because "all graduates should be treated equally". For 2 years, I nominated the same team as my preferred graduate rotation, but had no luck at all, despite me approaching HR few times, each time telling me different criteria was used to make their decision, sending me to teams that I knew wasn't my strength. Towards the end, I was doing design work that was totally unrelated to my field, under supervision (OMG). Whilst that was fun as I learned a lot about the new field, I decided that it was a dire career progression. I didn't want to get audited and be found to be designing towers / poles when I didn't have a structural engineering degree. So I went back to uni to further my study in finance.

When I completed my studies again, I tried to look for jobs in banks / big 4 accounting firm but they seem to prefer either fresh graduates or people who have had few years of experience, and was stuck doing the same design work. After a year or so of search, there was an opening in the finance department of my company. It was the same department that I worked in for 3 months after I spoke to my manager telling him I was really sick of my job and needed a change. It was that 3 months that I learned a lot about valuation and finance, and decided I wanted to remain in finance. Fortunately, I performed well during that 3 months as I was leading a project that the permanent staff wasn't able to complete, and I was eventually hired for this role permanently. At this point, I was stepping into a new career, effectively wasting the first 5 years of my career which wasn't great, but I was optimistic.

Fast forward 4 years, I had learned almost all the required skills to takeover my immediate manager's role. I was effectively doing his job, whilst he was doing his manager's job. The mental stimulation was no longer there and learning curve was pretty much non-existent anymore, but the journey wasn't easy that's for sure. Managed to stop all the old processes and turned a 6 hours process into an instantaneous one (with excel VBA), restructure our internal systems etc etc all by myself. Our team has never produced a number that we can't explain since then as everything was on a dashboard and they could see everything on a one pager (A3). Yet, I found myself still stuck as an analyst at a reasonable remuneration. Admittedly, both my managers had tried hard to get me more pay increases than my peers in the team, but it was a small team and probably there wasn't much room for career progression to begin with. But what I ultimately found frustrating was other people in different part of the finance team literally free riding, are good for nothing, but yet either getting the same rem or even more. I didn't want to be competitive, but it was hard as recall those late nights where I had to get inputs from them to do my job, but had to go through lots of rework as they couldn't get their numbers straight, and they are the ones that got promoted I don't know why.

I later on received an offer from a bank. Job scope was related but totally different, which meant I had to reset again. I thought it was a good addition to my resume that I have banking experience, especially when I intend to step back into a normal corporate later. Most of my counterparts in other companies had banking experience so I thought this would be good chance for me to catch up. I had to take a pay cut for moving to a bank because of slightly lower pay, and that was before considering I had roster days off in my old role (free 26 days leave on top of sick / annual leave), more work life balance, as well as an offer for 15% increase in pay if I stayed. The recruiting manager assured me that my career progression would look totally different, and I would catch up (remuneration wise) in no time. So I decided to give it a go, hoping that my sacrifice would pay back one day. In the bank, my hours effectively doubled. There was one point in time when I got in at 8am, and left at 3am the next day, and returned 3-4 hours later for another 8am start. It was hard but I thought if I did well, I will be compensated eventually. Ended up making a loss in first year as the partial bonus I got wasn't enough to cover lost income, not to mention the hours that I put in (effectively for the bonus they paid me, it was equivalent to $10 per hour for all the overtime etc), but I was pretty much across what my scope, and was already contributing to the team already. The same thing happened the following year, lots of learning as people were reluctant to teach so had to figure out things myself, but extremely long hours too and I got a promotion in 1.5yrs time after joining the bank. Was I happy? Probably not as I felt I had already proved my worth in the first year, so this was probably something that was 1yr late.

Earlier last year, I told my group manager (not immediate manager) that I wanted another promotion and was ready to step up, but he thought I was very good at my analytical work and probably wanted me to continue in that space. He also said I was lacking networking skills and said I should start to socialise more. Now to put it in perspective, the duties in my team was really segregated and my immediate manager was doing all the relationship management work whereas I was left to perform my analytical work. I didn't have to network with too many people when doing the analytical side of things. Moreover the amount of analytical work was so huge that I really do not have time to go around for a quick chat if I wanted to finish my work on time. I did build very close work relationship with those I regularly work with and my group manager is well aware of that, but the feedback he gave me was I needed to build my relationship with those that I occasionally work with as well and I found that really hard just because I didn't have time.

Anyway, today I found out I wasn't recommended for a promotion this year. Was really frustrated as it was another year of extremely hard work, I know it will definitely come next year, but if it was a fixed duration of time before your next promotion then it really isn't merit-based anymore, is it? I can't recall a weekday when I was able to go to bed before 1am, despite working from home (no I am not the kind that stay up just to appear I was working late, just the amount of work but every now and then I would have a pretty inefficient day). Was I performing terribly? I don't think so. At least I know that my work now gets more attention from senior management because I made it more understandable for them and decisions could be made. I was also fully across my immediate manager's job (but not vice versa when our scope are actually the same). My group manager said to me to get immediate manager across some of my duties as he saw a lot of burden falling on my shoulder, particularly obvious when we had to close out a few major projects). Performance feedback has been great from everyone, I was asked to step into my immediate manager's role during his absence and for that I received really good feedback from my internal stakeholder as well despite working with him the first time. But somehow I feel I don't have the luck to progress as quickly (or naturally) as others. The one thing I do note, is that I don't really like to approach my/other managers for random chats like many others do, partially because I don't want to be seen as sucking up to them, but also because I am really busy with my work.

I am really tired of missing out - and making things worse I am now expected to manage the team when I don't even have the right title to do so. Failing to manage the team means my promotion next year may be at stake but seriously… I am making a fuss because everyone was working in silo without thinking about their downstream processes and I happen to be at the last part of the whole process. I had to ask them to make their processes more systematic and less random as random stuff is difficult to track and its ever-growing. Was I too ambitious? Probably yes but I personally think this is the last promotion that I am comfortable pushing for, as the next one up involves dealing with executives all the time and I'd probably like to do less communication, more analytical work so I would be happy with my one more level up, and sit back and relax after that. But even that appears to be a difficult ask when others just happily get promoted …. I'm tired


  • +10


    What happened with your seatbelt fine?

    • -1

      0a. ICYMI: There's a Pandemic on.

      It would be remarkable if you DID have the kind of success you envision, right now, in the midst of COVID'.

      0b. There are books & YouTube videos to access, with ideas, that may help you solve your problem; even a few TED talks advise finding ways to Create & Offer something of Value & how to become Successful, eg, delivering it [over & over, to lotsa companies, who see it as Valuable to them].

      0c. I'd like to request an Executive Summary.

      0d. Check-out YouTube opportunities: IF you can attract, say, a million views of content you upload into your channel, you may be able to live will on the resulting YT income.

      Some thoughts:

      1. B4 you "settle" for a "strictly 9-5" job, that won't pay you what you feel you're worth (as state gov't was Not a Meritocracy), why not "test your metal" to see if you're as good as you think you are:

      Start a Business (Without Borrowing $$)

      (Find a suitable Niche, Find some Unsolved Problem(s) to Solve for some well-heeled organizations, win their trust, solve their problem(s), & charge a fair price for your time & (successful) efforts to implement your solution, for them.

      If you can show, that you know them & their business well enough to find & (first, on paper) come up with a solution to a problem they agree is a problem, make them an offer they can't refuse, eg, charge, say, 10% of the amount of $$ your solution saves them, eg, for the first 6 months.)

      I'd still like to read your Exec Summary.

      (Writing it gives you a chance to reduce a text down to a size, suitable for a "pitch" when you have a solution to offer, or a Start-Up idea to present to a VC.)

      Good Luck!

      • +1

        Nayler may or may not be pleased with your unsolicited advice.

        However, we are still wondering is there any update on this thread - Got Booked by Police - No Seatbelt

        Seems it is still unresolved.

        • +1

          I'm ambivalent about the advice, edge of my seat about the fine.

    • +1

      Lol… sorry.. I gave in and paid the fine… just wasn't in the position to pursue further… partially due to this as well…

      • That probably says a lot about why you get walked over with your career too.

  • -2

    Scrollin scrollin scrollin

  • +8

    As a rule, there are two ways to progress in the kind of organizations that you're talking about.

    The hard way: It's about who you know and what you've done for them. As you mention, that means lots of networking and a healthy dose of quid pro quo.

    The easy way: These sort of organizations have almost pathologically high turnover rates. It's very well known within these organizations that the easiest way to get a promotion is to leave, spend the obligatory time elsewhere, then get recruited into the more senior role.

    Oh… there is a high degree of be careful what you wish for here. If you're considered good at a job, there is wisdom in what the managers are saying. It's usually still possible to get salary progression without necessarily climbing the ranks. The Peter principle is strong at these places.

    • -1

      When there more jobs (than during a Pandemic), job-hopping works well. So, start by finding some field with (or anticipating) more jobs to fill than they can find + keep people.

      In AU, I'm betting on NUCLEAR ENERGY, from ~2030, when Small Modular Reactors are due to start rolling-out; now is a good time to be learning (even cost-free, via MIT OCW) all you can about NE, even if you end up selling Liquid-Fuel, Molten Salt Reactors (MSR), or negotiating a sequence of Big Deals, in any high-end field.

      Expect & Prep for Lotsa Competition

  • Your long hours and working for free is making someone a lot of money, and other people's jobs easier. Thanks.

    How much are you making at the bank working 400 hour weeks?

    • it was equivalent to $10 per hour

      400 x 10 x 52 =

      Around $200k per year?

      • lol 24x7 = 168 max a week?

        • It's almost like it was a massive exaggeration.

          • @brendanm: It was only for my bonus not my base
            my bonus was around 20k and I had to put in on average 6 hours extra each day

            • +3

              @legendary-noob: 6x5x48=1440 hours a year


              You did overtime for $13.88 an hour?

              Value yourself friend.

              • @brendanm: i dont know the bonus that others get
                but I can tell you one thing
                when i first started, i had to go in to the office on Saturday and Sunday
                and for some, it was norm…. people in their casual clothing working on weekends

                • @legendary-noob: As others have said, work harder, not smarter. Working overtime for $13.88 just shows them that you are happy to work for.that amount of remuneration, so why pay you more?

                  You also need a work life balance, why would you want to spend so much time at work?

                  • +1


                    As others have said, work harder, not smarter.

                    I'm sure you mean "work smarter, not harder", right? 😋

            • +1


              I had to put in on average 6 hours extra each day

              If this is what you're doing at a small company (where roles and job lines are often blurred), I'd say they're taking advantage of your willingness to work. But, at a much larger company where they have very defined roles, if it takes you this much extra time to complete your tasks each day, I'd say that you're probably doing something very wrong. If anything, working long hours (especially when noone else is) makes you seem not very efficient.

              What happens when you take on a higher-up role with more responsibilities? Are you going to be working 8 hours extra each day? And then 10 hours?

              • +1

                @bobbified: Yup, one of my early lessons was about saying "no", and leaving work for the day if you had more important things to do.
                If you're working so long hours, ask for help. If no help is forthcoming, what you may have to do stop accepting work (again, say "no"). If you get thrown work, you will have to start not delivering.
                After a period of not delivering, you will find the work magically reduces. Much the same way as if you keep accepting work, it will magically increase.
                Also, don't be so keen to advance. Have you even been working 10 years yet?

            • @legendary-noob: 20k bonus is uncommon for a bank and most places actually. I agree with comment/s earlier about leaving to acquire experience elsewhere and return to a senior position. Sounds like you’re bright and hard working, doesn’t matter where you go you’ll do well. So then… why stay where you’re not compensated for what you’re worth? ^_^

    • working 400 hour weeks?

      They must be the employee of the 💯.

  • +16

    Post is not a rant, more like an autobiography

  • +7

    Few comments:
    1. You haven't moved around, like at all. If your company isn't giving you the raise you want (And think you deserve) then leave - If you work in tech, the expectation is a promotion or a new job every 1.5 years, until you're happy.
    2. Your group manager telling you to network within work is probably telling - as another member mentioned, it sounds like you aren't socializing with other people as much as you could (Beers/Bags)
    3. It sounds like you would be better suited to a startup - they're always looking for people willing to go the extra mile. Big companies just… aren't ( Apart from some examples, like consultants… but thats a different story)

    • +1


      What bags might you be referring to sir? 😋

      • Wizz Fizz

  • +4

    You need to work less hard and talk to people more - it isn't what you know but who you know. Great for the company that you're working so hard but it isn't helping your career.

    • Probably that's why I am not progressing as quickly as others
      Whenever people get together to have random chats, I will be the one still at my desk trying to get my stuff done
      I only deal with my bosses when I have to, same goes for my network, only as required
      Apart from that, I try to keep my head down

  • +2

    Welcome to the jungle

  • +5

    I would be moving on, but moving up, don't side step (unless the company emphasises career progression in writing) or take a step back unless you are wanting to change careers. Move on to effectively a promotion in a different company. So start looking for and applying for equivalent roles as your managers role - highlighting all of your experience in your resume.

    Also take whatever they say with a grain of salt, if its not in writing then you should take it as its not happening. It will always be next year, next year, next year.. etc

    I typically see people who are in the inner circle be the ones who are promoted, even if they arnt as deserving, so if you get along with your manager, grow that relationship, don't look at it as brown nosing.

    If the company is not looking after you, and you are being overlooked for promotions, then move onto a company that values you.

  • +3
    1. Cut the hours back and get the work / life balance.
    2. Add in coffee break in the morning where you go out with others for a coffee and a chat. This will help your networking.
    3. Follow what the manager is doing w.r.t. networking and work hours as this will help get promoted eventually.
    4. Indicate that you are putting in a hell of allot of overtime and this needs to be wound back as it is not healthy. Hopefully you will get help and train someone, which shows you are worth keeping and promoting.

    If it does not work out look for a manager job at another bank or financial company.

  • Some general things you can do in addition to the above are:


    -invest in shares/etc


  • +10

    Youve been given the feedback, take it on board. You need to work on your relationships.
    In Australia success at work has absolutely nothing to do with competence or hard work, its all about relationships.
    Thats why theres (profanity) and idiots in charge of everything, sign up or join the rebel alliance.

  • -3

    Were you or your parents born outside of Australia in a Non White country?

  • +7

    He also said I was lacking networking skills and said I should start to socialise more. Now to put it in perspective, the duties in my team was really segregated and my immediate manager was doing all the relationship management work whereas I was left to perform my analytical work. I didn't have to network with too many people when doing the analytical side of things. Moreover the amount of analytical work was so huge that I really do not have time to go around for a quick chat if I wanted to finish my work on time. I did build very close work relationship with those I regularly work with and my group manager is well aware of that, but the feedback he gave me was I needed to build my relationship with those that I occasionally work with as well and I found that really hard just because I didn't have time.

    This might be a bit of a hard pill to swallow, but you're a grunt. Companies are looking for leaders to promote up the chain, while the grunts continue to be pushed hard to do the work.

    You really do need to listen to the above advice. Learn networking skills and socialise more to build those relationships. You have the work hard down pat. You need to learn how to work smart and learn how to leverage your time and the resources around you so you do have time to build those relationships. The higher up the chain you want to go, the more you need to work on those relationships (and the bigger picture). If you're happy to stay on the lower rung on the totem pole, you need to reassess how you're going to conduct yourself. At a guess, you're heading for an early mid life crisis…. if not an early grave.

    • +5

      I'll piggyback on the back of this piece of advice (that I agree with) and add that it feels like they're actually trying to help you out with that problem - you're being told you now need to manage a team (even though that's not part of your description) - it sounds like you're hitting it out of the park on the technical ability things (which is great, it means the product that goes out the door is top quality), but the social/team management stuff is lacking - and that's a big part of getting the promotion - it's no longer about the perfect product leaving your desk, it's about you making sure the perfect product is leaving a bunch of people's desks. They (the people below you) need to be trained, mentored and, yes, managed. And it's an entirely different skillset than what you've been using all this time. People who might not even have your focus and technical ability now need to make results of a suitable quality, and their problems are now your problems. This is the greasy pole of management that must be climbed.

      It's time to read a few management books and get used to the concept of 'playing the game' with them. It doesn't mean you need to go full Bill Lumbergh, but you should be checking in on your minions' progress, being approachable and even doing the icky social stuff e.g. even if you have no interest in sport, entering the office footy tipping competition. Or every now and then bringing some home-made biscuits in to the break room on a Friday with a "Please help yourself" post-it note on it. It seems hokey as Hell, but someone's going to say "oh, thanks for the brownies" next time you're using the photocopier instead of walking past you staring directly ahead at some distant object. Then you can say "oh, it's nothing, trying out a new recipe but wasn't sure about carob", they'll nod and go "Yeah, my girlfriend is on this anti-sugar thing right now, and I've never been sure if its-" and then you can interrupt and say "You know I need those TPS reports on my desk by 2, right?" and smile to yourself as they scurry away with their tail between their legs like a whipped greyhound.

      source: I am a sociopathic manager and my coworkers are subjected to my nightmarish wont

    • Thanks, I'm actually fine with the advice ie doing more networking
      Just that it gets to a point where I'll probably be sucking up than doing real work

      • If your opinion of networking is sucking up, you're going to be doing it wrong. You're going to hurt your career more than you help it.

        Building these relationships is a way you can get exposed to and see opportunities to allow you to add way more value than you're currently contributing. The more value you learn to add, the more you can potentially earn with less time. It's one of those work smarter, not harder/longer things. It helps expose you to the bigger picture.

        It might not be for you. You may be destined to remain as a grunt and there's nothing wrong with that. The world doesn't spin without its grunts. Too many chiefs, not enough indians doesn't work.

  • +3

    This must be the longest post in OzBargain history

    • And neat week on This Is Your Life…

    • Word count 0f 1,727 words!

  • +1

    With the hours you're putting in, go into consulting where billable hours are looked at more favorably. Nevertheless, just long hours are not sufficient to progress to senior levels.

    When I was part of an M&A team that did some due diligence in Singapore, an analyst at an investment bank supporting us told me he worked 9-10am to after midnight (so got free cabs home) every day. As a senior manager, around five years older than him, I worked 9-5.30ish.

    I suggested he spend some time learning about and starting to invest - doing something for himself, rather than just the firm.

    Also, play the long game with your life. Make sure you have interests outside of work, so that when you retire, you don't cark it shortly after, because your body is so used to working hard for so long, it breaks down when it can rest.

  • +3

    He also said I was lacking networking skills and said I should start to socialise more.

    I didn't have to network with too many people when doing the analytical side of things….I really do not have time to go around for a quick chat

    As others have said, you need to take on the feedback of your manager. You are good at the technical aspect of your work, however if you want to progress you need to let go of this perception you have that working hard = success. Perhaps in some cases it does, perhaps initially at the bottom rung of the ladder. However there is a game to be played in order to progress up the ladder, learn that game.

    I am now expected to manage the team when I don't even have the right title to do so. Failing to manage the team means my promotion next year may be at stake…

    You're making excuses and choosing failure without even trying. Ask yourself why that is? What are you afraid of? You know what is expected of you (manage the team) and to lead your team you don't necessarily need the right title. There is such a thing as leading by influence. If you take the lead and gain their respect and you will likely find that they will follow (unless someone in the team is also vying for the promotion). Read the book The 7 Habits of Highly Successful People - there is a great section on growing your circle of influence.

    All this comes down to the importance of "soft skills". I've finally learnt, perhaps too late in my life, just how important these skills are if one wants to progress in both life and work. I've worked hard, put in massive unpaid overtime, improved processes, grew the business, etc, etc but it didn't matter because I failed at the most important thing - working smart and developing interpersonal relationships. I grew my technical skills but neglected everything else.

    • Thanks - not trying to make excuse
      I have two teams, one the direct one and another indirect
      I am expected to manage both, or more precisely guide both teams to get what management wants
      Problem is, in the indirect team, there is a director and senior who do things in their own silo, and their only interest was only to tick the box
      When I first started as an analyst, my words carried no weight at all. Now that I am a senior, I am able to force my instructions upon the senior, but not the director yet
      When my director asks for something, you'd see a totally different response
      Oh well - nothing strange, just how the world works
      So my strategy has been a normal one, just CC my director and I will get less push back

  • +1

    My good lord, if only you'd been given a break or two along the way, you'd be Jeff Bezos, Warren Buffett, and Bill Gates all in the one package.

  • +2

    The best advice I wish someone had given me is this: (and I think it applies to any gender so ignore the female slant)

    “The culture of a workplace is so important, especially when you are a woman. My advice, when women come and say things like their pay is lower than their male peers, is that they really do have to leave. No one wants to be a quitter but why should you spend all your energy fighting that, rather than being somewhere people will appreciate how brilliant you are?”
    - Dame Helena Morrissey

    It’s so so so so true. If you are in the right team/company and working your ass off and demonstrating top outcomes, it shouldn’t be a battle to get recognised. If it is, this usually means you are not a fit for the culture of that organisation. Why try to fight that? It’s going to take so much time and I can guarantee you will be unlikely to win.

    Good luck with the job hunt mate!

  • P.S. “you need to network” is Code for “this company culture only promotes people who are in the “in” crowd.

    Most large corporates operate in this fashion.

    In a small or medium size business you may find a better culture fit because it’s far more transparent who is delivering outcomes and as long as you are friendly and polite you don’t need to be out on the beers every week with the boss and their favourites in order to get promoted!

  • My 2c:
    1. Been mentioned a few times already but will reiterate - networking.
    It isn't even about becoming best friends with colleagues, but you don't sound like others know who you are other than 'the guy who works under XX and does all the XXX'.
    Start chatting to people from other teams (ones you're interested in), go for coffee with colleagues in the mornings (it's basically an ingrained ritual in corporate jobs to get in to the office and be out getting coffee with a few colleagues within the first hour), go for lunches, go for arvo coffee. Covid has really limited this part of worklife but make an effort when you can.

    What you want is for people in other teams to be familiar with you and to want you to be working with them. Yes, working hard helps but more than anything they want to work with someone who fits in and they like.
    The unfortunate reality for most is that merit-based promotion gets you only so far (as you've experienced; it gets you into the roles where they need people to do a lot but not much further), and if you want to make the jump to management positions it's about who you know and can work well with. Or your manager quits and you fall into a promotion.

    1. Boomerang. Someone above also mentioned this. It is far more difficult to obtain salary increases when you're already there and doing your job than it is to be hired at a salary you want. Your manager making a case for a new hire at market rates is far easier and more palatable for upper management than it is for the manager to recommend someone who's already there on X to now be paid Y in the same role. Speak to some people at your previous company, are they hiring?

    2. Look for roles externally. See what you're actually worth in the market by going to interviews etc. You might find something you actually like or you might find your pay isn't that bad where you already are.
      If you get an offer you like, be honest with your manager and tell them. I've seen this happen many times and the initial response from management is usually to match the offer. Why? Because hiring is a costly and time consuming exercise, especially where external recruitment agencies are involved. But you (generally) need to have that offer to force their hand.

    Hope this helps and from what others have said, these seem to be fairly common observations in corporate life.

  • Whilst I totally respect those who just love their corporate job, love their work, enjoy the atmosphere with their colleagues, feel challenged and rewarded by delivering to the company. If you are that person just stop reading.

    Worked in IT for 30 years including one 10 year stint in a company that was amazingly voted the in the top 3 worlds best place work. You know what it: S U C K E D, between deadwood timewasters, kiss arse middle management who say the right words but wouldn't follow through, executive management whom as far as I could tell lived on a different planet.

    You know what those guys/girls at the top would be saying "does a good job, but doesn't fit in".

    If you want to progress in big companies, forget the customers, forget the team, don't peddled harder, just focus on your boss's boss needs. Your managers boss gives out the treats, you need to find out what he/she needs. Don't suck up, don't be a limp piss bucket carrier, don't looked tired or harried or stressed out even if you are, exude approachable professional calm confidence with everyone and never ever talk or email anyone from the executive team unless it is the social kind. If you need to learn/focus on anything become a top presenter and communicator.

    Personally, I think a life spent in a corporation is a diminished life. Personally, my working life only improved income tripled founding own company with a few employees, where I can focus all my time and energy on doing what I do well 100% focused on my customers.

  • Don’t let others riding on your coattails, you might have done the hard work and have the brains to be a doer, but you don’t really know who is claiming the credit and getting the promotion. You should consider expanding your scope of work into the workplace politics despite how you may not like “playing” politics.

    Often those upper level managers do more talking , dealing than “real” work.

  • Your manager has given you some advice, so you should act on it. Are you an introvert/loner? It’s OK if you are, as the workplace has many. But a manager’s role, which you seem to covet, requires you to work with people, not just VBA and spreadsheets etc. So he has basically told you to learn how to work better with people. Learn how to make small talk. Be genuinely interested in your colleagues, both from a work and personal perspective. Go to lunch from time to time. Have chats with the team. Get your head away from your computer from time to time and get amongst it.

    A leader and manager’s job is all about the people. Your manager said you’re weak in that area so work on it.

  • +1

    I'd strongly suggest listening to the podcasts listed at https://www.manager-tools.com/manager-tools-basics .

    Then consider doing a profile at https://www.manager-tools.com/products/disc-profile (you are likely a high C, but worth checking) and then consider purchasing some of the casts at https://www.manager-tools.com/products/effective-relationshi... (some are free - but the whole set is nice).

    If you want a promotion, you need to be able to be a manager at some point. I found these podcasts worth listening to.

    • Oh man, I haven't seen a disc profile for decades. Good to see they're still around.

  • In my years and there have been many, I have put great store in shameless self promotion. If you don’t tell everybody around you how great you are they won’t care, worse still they won’t notice. Of course you have to keep things on the level. Remind people about that time they got a target because you did that particular thing. Talk up your victories.

    If that all sounds like rubbish (or not) get some help from the experience of others - it used to be the book How To Win Friends And Influence People. These days it’s TED talks and Tony Robbins, although the latter can be a cultish lifestyle. Find your strength in yourself and fight for what you want. NOBODY gives a rat’s arse about the guy working tirelessly in the corner. He just makes their life easier.

  • +1

    It's pretty clear to me that in each role you have positioned yourself as one of the few guys who does the analytics well. Let's face it, most people don't like this job and don't do it well. So as a result your managers see you in a role that is hard to replace so that is one reason they don't want to promote you. Your current role may also be 'making the manager look good' by having consistently accurate figures, cost savings, innovation etc. For this reason also your manager would not be recommending you get a promotion to elsewhere. He/she would be talking to senior management and HR recommending against a promotion to keep himself looking good.

    It also sounds like you are not 'playing the game' well enough. I've worked in large corporates for 24 years and you pretty much aren't going to get decent promotions (to manager or lead of many people) without socialising, networking and basically being in the circles of the people who make the decisions and be well liked in those circles. You need to be fairly well known with a good track record (and I don't mean only technically) amongst the stakeholders who you will end up mostly communicating with and delivering to.

    And don't ever think HR are on your side when it comes to promotions and pay rises. That's pretty much never the case. They will be doing what senior management tell them to do and a primary role of HR is to keep salaries and costs down for management. They will always have some stats or reasons why you cannot get a payrise. But this is also a game of poker. So guard your hand and be prepared to play it out with your boss and HR when it comes to a pay rise negotiation. And know your value to the company. i.e. how replaceable are you?

    If the above seems negative, don't see it that way. You have a ton of untapped scope with behavioral adjustments to get to where you want to be. Have a think about all the people you saw getting promotions. Were they the best technically at their job? I doubt it. They were probably the best at promoting themselves, networking, socialising, and positioning themselves with those who make the decisions about promotions. You have the brains by the sound of it, just need to work on the other side.

    Also, if you've been in a company a long time people may have already formed their opinions of you, so even if you change your behaviour now, it may be quite difficult to become 'someone else' and get that promotion. It may be easier to take a similar job in another company and go up from there with new behaviours. You could also use the new job as good leverage to ask for a promotion again and say "I have no choice but to leave if i cannot progress my career here" and tell them you have a job you are just about to accept and you will take it if you cannot get a promotion/pay rise (in writing with HR). Often actually securing a job at another company is enough for them to give you the promotion or pay rise - there is a lot of bluff calling by management when it comes to pay rises and promotions, but if you can come back to them with a resignation letter it can often cause them to give you that promotion or pay rise.

    Good luck. Seems you have a solid base to get to where you want to be.

  • +1

    Mate that's not how you play the game. You don't play the game by working yourself to the bone. It just makes you the cheapest person to keep employed doing what you do! Why would they promote you then?!
    What's your end game? Do you just want more money? Do you want to get promoted and have a title? With a promotion you are getting more money but you're also getting more responsibility and therefore more stress/risk. Is that really what you want? What if you could have more money but none of the stress? I'd rather more pay but none of the hard stuff personally.
    Biggest jump in salary you can do is change companies. You've only been at two it seems. Keep an eye out on the job market. Once you get enough experience to put it onto your resume, and a job comes up, jump on it. Ask about the pay. Apply if its better than your current situation. Ask questions about work life balance and perks. Jump if its better and they hire you!! Why wait 5 years before seeing if you have enough experience? If they hire you then you have enough!
    If you don't want to network, make business relationships and connections, then it's clearly not working and you won't get anywhere doing what you're currently doing. Remember, companies do not care about you on a personal level. Don't stay out of loyalty or kill yourself for them. Don't waste your life on a BUSINESS!

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