I recently joined a biotech company with < 300 employees. They make drugs and are interested in bioinformatics and DNA sequencing. It's a peculiar situation.

Popularity: I have dozens of deliverables in the queue, and I don't have any team to help me. I am currently wearing many hats: 1. developing pipelines for sequencing 2. developing ad hoc tools for my colleagues 3. training some colleagues on Unix & command line tools 4. advising sales and marketing for anything and everything related to bioinformatics and sequencing, internally and customer-facing 5. developing a database for mining internal and external datasets of interest

Every single senior manager is very excited about bioinformatics, and I keep getting pulled aside being told that I am very valuable and that I will soon be a team leader and the head of bioinformatics. People ask me for advise on bioinformatics and then they go to other meetings, repeat what I said and take credit.

Politics: However, it's been more than 6 months and until now I only saw discussions and politics. Lots of politics. At the same time, I have no support from IT and getting the hardware I need has the same priority of anything else.

Manager: In theory I have a manager acting as a filter and prioritising my work, but in practice he's struggling to avoid being redundant: he asks to meet me before bigger meetings, he asks me technical questions and then repeats my answers to stakeholders in front of me, showing expertise which I just provided... and if I antagonise him, I will be more or less floating in a pool of greedy stakeholders.

The worst part is that every time I speak to some manager I feel like a device to advance other people's careers.

My question is: is this normal/common/expected in a growing company, or is this uncommonly dysfunctional and it would be better to quit?

  • 3
    Sounds like you are suffering from high work in progress. You should focus on delivering things in your pipeline. – Eric Jul 23 '15 at 22:35
  • Hi Eric, thanks for your comment. Could you please elaborate a little more? – Monoandale Jul 23 '15 at 22:39
  • 2
    If you take on too many projects simultaneously, it will be hard to keep track of them and you will lose a lot of time context switching between them. In the absence of clear priorities from your manager, you should try to identify the top priorities yourself. You should focus on getting those items done and then move on to the next ones. Another approach to this if you are to have a team is get the top items ready for a team (have a plan and some documentation and maybe some initial infrastructure) and then use that to make the case to get a team in place. – Eric Jul 23 '15 at 22:44
  • 3
    Is this your first corporate job? Or do you have 30 years of experience? Some context around the "taking credit" comments, for example, would be helpful. I'd consider it a success if I could prepare my boss with the technical information that he needed for a meeting and if other people were repeating my ideas in meetings. But it depends on what "taking credit" means. If this is your first non-academic experience, I'd tend to suspect that you're overly focused on getting credit. If you've got 30 years of experience, I'd tend to be more concerned. – Justin Cave Jul 23 '15 at 22:44
  • 2
    When you speak to each senior manager explain how much work you have and how great it would be if you could work for them exclusively (with a promotion and pay rise). – TheMathemagician Jul 24 '15 at 11:04

Everybody wants me for my skills.

Many people would be very happy to be able to say that about themselves. It sounds like you are in a very fortunate postition where your unique supply of skills is in high demand. Therefore you are highly valuable because of those skills.

but I am not supported

By support I think you are mainly referring to a lack of a team. It may be difficult to find people with the skills you would need within a team that could actually support you rather than put more demands on your time.

If you know people within your prefession that you trust and could work with, you could always pass their details on to your manager and / or HR.

they go to other meetings, repeat what I said and take credit

Do you really want to be the person going to meetings, and talking over a powerpoint presentation or would you rather be doing the work you are clearly very good at?

In the end it's the company that gets the credit from the clients and that is what matters. Internally everyone already knows that you have the valuable skills/knowledge. The fact that you are so in demand proves this.

Your being in demand is also a form of being given credit.

Should I quit?

If you have an offer of a better job, where you are sure that your situation would improve, then perhaps.

If you have the means to support yourself without work and fancy a permanent break until something else turns up, then perhaps.

For the reason that you are in demand within the company but not invited to client meetings. No.

Could it be that you are not included in meetings because everyone knows you are so in-demand and that the best use of your time is advising people and focusing on your own deliverables and are in fact trying to do you a favour?

It's usaully good to talk through your concerns with your manager. Resources, time planning, exposure to clients. But always try to be constructive, positive and helpful.

Compare: I'm not happy. I don't have enough resources. I don't get credit. vs. If we had an assistant with A nd B skills, we could complete XY and Z in half the time. If you think it would help, I'd be happy to attend a client meeting.

The worst part is that every time I speak to some manager I feel like a device to advance other people's careers.

You may find that those same managers envy your skills in the way you envy their careers. Wearing a suit and sitting in meetings doesn't bring happiness. Feeling valued and useful can.

Anyone worthy of giving credit, can also determine whether or not credit is due. I imagine a manager you view as steeling credit could find themsleves in a very uncofortable postion if (s)he can't answer some follow up questions just after presenting your ideas.

In the end skills, hard work and loyalty to a business are almost always rewarded. Loyalty takes time to prove though.

My advice is to be clear about what makes you so valuable to the business, focus all your efforts in those areas and prove your value and loyalty. Even if that means advising someone who appears to then go on to take the credit.

Don't quit for reasons of envy or frustration.

| improve this answer | |

Quitting is possibly the worst choice in a situation like this. You need to learn how to handle priorities and politics to be successful anywhere.

First stop promising to deliver work when your work queue is already full. Next set up a priority system with your boss and go through everything you have been assigned and the priorities

Any time a priority is lowered to make room for another new priority, you need to communicate it to the people whose work will be delayed. Taking on more than you can do is one quick way to torpedo your career. Not telling stakeholders that their work is delayed is another.

At least until you get the workload under control, you need to meet with your boss daily to discuss priorities and progress.

(Advice for things you haven;t specifically mention but which tend to go along with the symptoms you did mention.) Do not put in 80 hour weeks to get the work done either. You will burn out and it will become expected and you won't get any other team members to help you. Some overtime specially around a go live date for a big project is ok. Continual overtime is not. It is tempting to fix the over-assigned problem by working until you drop. Don't fall into the trap.

It is your job to make your boss look good and that you prep him well enough he can answer technical questions is all to your credit. As your boss he will get at least partial credit for everything you do in any event. It is his job to keep you producing, so he also deserves some of the credit whether you think so or not. Likely there are a lot things he does that help your projects along that you are not even aware of. Also you can't get promoted until he moves up or out, so actually it is not to your disadvantage if he gets some credit as long as others recognize your abilities as well which it sounds as if they do.

If people recognize you as the natural choice to lead the eventual bioinfomatics group, then you are getting the credit. Further when other people bring up your points in other meetings, it makes what you want have more influence in the organization. This is all to the good unless you are in a position where no one thinks you are contributing. Right now in a position like this where you are the only company expert (At least that is what I am guessing from the write-up), everybody knows you are the source of the ideas.

Working on getting into a new area and getting new division of a company started is ALL POLITICS. Politics are the way things get decided in organizations. If you want to influence the direction of the company, you need to learn to play the political game. Luckily this seems like a place where you can learn how to do it effectively.

It takes a lot of hard work to build consensus to spend the money on a new business idea like bioinformatics. You are lucky that this place has people willing to put in the work and you are complaining about them!

You say you feel as if you are device to advance other's careers. Sure every competent person is. You want to be known as someone who can help the careers of others out. It gives them more incentive to support you in your career. No solid career is made without the help of others. You need to give help as well as receive it. Politics is partly a game of trading favors. Find the best of them and help push them to succeed and they will help you succeed. Just avoid helping the idiots who would be horrible to work for as much as you can.

| improve this answer | |

Firstly, resigning should always be your last choice, not your first. I would explore all internal avenues first, before taking the drastic step of leaving.

With regards to the IT issues, it may be worthwhile talking to you manager. You can say something like:

Bob, I'm having trouble getting the support I need from IT. It's interfering with my ability to do my job. I think it needs some pressure from someone higher up to get the priority on this to make it happen or our deliverables are at risk.

Secondly, obviously you are overworked and understaffed. You need to make a case to him to increase resourcing. He can then take that upstairs, which will make him more relevant because clearly his little area of responsibility needs more bodies for him to manage. If he is trying to rely on you for everything, he isn't managing.

Clearly if others are telling you that you are valuable, then your manager isn't really stealing your thunder. Everyone knows who is doing the work. Get your manager to manage, and resource correctly for both staff and equipment, and you might find that a lot of your problems are alleviated.

If you don't get anywhere with your manager, then you can possibly talk to HR about being overwhelmed and needing help. You can also tell them about your hardware issues.

And if that doesn't work, then you might be forced to look elsewhere. But try to find a resolution first if you can :)

| improve this answer | |
  • 1
    I wouldn't say resigning should be the last choice. However, if the OP is really that valuable, s/he should be able to find better pay/working conditions elsewhere. Once the new position is nailed down, then you resign. – jamesqf Jul 24 '15 at 1:16
  • 3
    "You are very valuable" may just be a different way of saying "I want you to prioritise my work first". – gnasher729 Jul 24 '15 at 13:44
  • 3
    @gnasher729: of course it is, but that doesn't take away from the fact that they acknowledge the OP as the one who gets things done. – NotMe Jul 24 '15 at 21:33

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .