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I work in a very informal culture where employees across all levels of hierarchy call each other "mate" or "buddy". Managers often make critical decisions outside the company walls, during lunch or maybe at the bar. Or they go to the gym during a break. They form cliques, small circles of friends, and determine quite a few important things behind the scenes before announcing anything at official meetings.

I am currently a junior-middle level manager of a department that is among the most pressed for resources and also gets the majority of workload. For some reason (I believe mainly time/resources and the fact that I am almost always required to be addressing something, solving an issue, often quite urgently, etc.), I think I have grown increasingly sidelined from the management ranks since my promotion to this role; I also feel this is threatening my job performance because I might be missing some of the details, find out things last and am not making good relationships. People around me are being promoted, some are given responsibilities I used to have because for some reason they decided to and I don't even know why. I feel very un-competitive.

What can I do in a situation like this, where on the one hand I don't have time for gossip and socializing, but on the other hand that's what I will need in order to propel my career upward?

How can I justify to my own manager that I need more "face time" with the rest of the company? Note that my manager is a top technical/scientific specialist who uses me and my team to channel the requests coming into him and find/manage the technical resources he needs. So he is even less involved in day-to-day company gossip/networking than myself, but is highly valued for his expertise.

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    If you think it is important and vital, I would plan time for it. If you don't have time for it, try and ease your workload to free up time for it. – Paul Hiemstra Sep 20 '14 at 10:01
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    You can make more friends in two months by becoming interested in other people than you can in two years by trying to get other people interested in you. – crh225 Sep 20 '14 at 18:24
  • It seems to me that your "bus-y-ness" is just an excuse. The reality is that most likely you aren't a good schmoozer. At some companies, schmoozing is extremely important to get ahead while at other companies it isn't as important. If you think this is holding back your progress at your current company then the odds are that you simply aren't a good fit at this particular company for getting where you want to go. You may be a great fit for your current position, but if schmoozing gets people ahead in your company and that's your goal then this company isn't a good career fit for you. – Dunk Sep 22 '14 at 19:36
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I think you need to take a step back and evaluate your station at this company, or rather, where you want to end up or if you can even play both sides.

From your post I see two groups of people.

The first

They form cliques, small circles of friends, and determine quite a few important things behind the scenes before announcing anything at official meetings.

The second

A top technical/scientific specialist who uses me and my team to channel the requests coming into him and find/manage the technical resources he needs.

It sounds like you are part of the latter group, the one that does not have the same social connections but provides value to the company with deep technical expertise.

I'm kind of an introvert so I found that going to the bar to talk about sports (where I know absolutely nothing about the topic) and playing golf (that I am terrible at) provided little or no value. I was faking it with that group and was terribly uncomfortable.

I found myself in a similar situation, since you're not constantly rubbing elbows at the gym or bar, you're kind of invisible to the people that make decisions. For me, my stuff was always running, I stayed ahead of changes and nobody knew who I was because 'stuff just worked'. You need to have a heart to hart with your manager about this. Explain that you're worried about your future and come prepared with a list of accomplishments and things you've achieved and some semblance of a plan on where you want to be.

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It's great that your manager is highly regarded for his technical abilities, but because of his lack of political/social involvement, your group is being hindered. He thinks it is great that your team gets everything done for him. He has no reason to think you need additional resources. You get the job done.

I suggest you inform your manager that you need more resources. My guess is many people including you in your group are over-worked and will probably burn out. Start taking time for these other activities. Use as an example of getting information too late because you're out of the loop. Insert yourself in the loop. You will probably have to push back on due dates. Your manager may not like it.

Stop thinking of these activities as wastes of time, gossip or socializing (socializing at work is very important as you've discovered). If this is how your company does things, you have to do what you can to fit in the culture. Very important things are being discussed. In case your boss asks you what you've been doing, tell him how ineffective it is for you to be the last to know on everything, so you joined the party.

protected by Community Oct 31 '14 at 13:03

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