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I consider myself a successful corporate climber and have reached junior/middle management level quite fast compared to my peers and most in my company.

Yet, I have reached a stumbling block or ceiling in my climb upwards - and I truly fear it is due to old boy network politics rather than skills and experience, i.e. many people in senior management are from the same school/alumni networks, and there seem to be no strategies against that (not even sure whether Manager Tools ever thought about this issue).

As someone who enjoys management in its own right, managing more and more complex teams and increasingly strategic operations, I am wondering if in the long run it will always be more beneficial to just look elsewhere whenever politics appear to be impossible to work through (once again, how do you "win" at politics if only the people from the same college and family friends of the CEO are promoted???).

What is your experience with this?

Especially for aspiring managers - is it better stick around a bit longer to grow company seniority and institutional experience, or jump ship to a higher position elsewhere?

donm's picture

Remember that where you are now situated, you have many variables in your favor that you will not have if you jump ship. You have built up relationships. You have done favors for others, and probably have others who are willing to do favors for you. You will not have this at the new company. Your expertise and contributions have been recognized, as your deep-selection promotions have demonstrated. At your next position, you will have to "earn your stripes" again in front of a new crowd with their own agendas and biases, none of which you will be aware of upon your arrival.

You state that "many people in senior management" are from similar backgrounds/schools. That implies that some must also be from outside the networks you have mentioned. Were they outside hires or internal promotions? Have you asked your immediate supervisor "What do you see me doing at this company in three to five years? What can I do to improve my chances of further promotions?" Have you spoken to any of those outside the old-boy network about how they attained their position?

Lastly, sometimes one is just not seasoned enough for the next promotion. Sometimes, one just needs to get more experience, which only comes from more time in grade.

So, the definitive answer to your question: "...is it better stick around a bit longer to grow company seniority and institutional experience, or jump ship to a higher position elsewhere?" is "Yes. One of the choices is better, but which one will vary by the situation and that's where you'll have to be the judge."

alextupolev's picture

Donm, thanks - I agree and have the same concern, i.e. losing all the "goodwill" and institutional experience/seniority after having worked to hard to build it. With my personal life being very busy now, I expect to find it challenging to build this from scratch somewhere new.

With regards to your questions/remarks:

- I cannot discuss long term career growth with my supervisor; it's very hard to find any sort of mentorship or career guidance within the company. I think this is purely due to the very young age of the company and most its people; it's a totally new industry - imagine Facebook - so even the most senior people have just a few years of experience.

- The only non-alumni/network/oldboys promotions were for those who have been in the company since the very beginning, i.e. cheaply hired people who stuck all the years.

- I have been told I am a great manager in my reviews, but nobody told me WHAT exactly I need for the next step - and how can I gain any sort of experience for beyond where I am if at each opportunity to gain more exposure I am ignored?

I know for sure that if I joined a comparable company I would most definitely be able to start in a much higher rank and a significantly higher salary. The main reason I stick so far is that I like the business idea and identify deeply with the product. However, if my future stays so ambiguous, I fear it might get worse if I stay too long.