Upward mobility and middle management

Feb 18, 2018 3 Comments

I currently manage a team of engineers in a hardware organization at Apple and have previously been very successful as a technical leader (have invented/started multiple projects that became major roadmap defining features). However, I find that there is no upward mobility in my organization. The organizations is full of middle management who are 40 somethings , risk averse, gate keepers to execs meetings, mediocre ambition and mostly in the way or just resting and vesting. The goal seems to be to minimize risk and maximize head count (empire building).

I have tried to talk to senior management and they don’t exactly disagree but have offered no real action. Apparently being mediocre manger or leader is not a good enough reason to be demoted/side lined, even if it prevents younger smarter people from getting a chance. I am finding it difficult to understand how to change things. Curious if other have faced a similar problems.


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TOP 3 Comments
  • Apple AbCM30
    I am an IC at Apple and face similar issues. Glad to see a manager think about this and post about it. I don’t have great advice on upward mobility, below are a few thoughts:
    1. Leave the IC work to your ICs. Don’t micro manage them. Make sure they are challenged, so that they won’t leave Apple and you will face retention issues on top of upward mobility issues. Don’t micromanage them as it’s easier to fill your day than upward mobility 2. Find some mentors in mid 40s or some mentors in your dream role 3. Suck up to the bosses if this is what gets upward mobility. Play the game by its rules while you are still in it. 4. Read some books on this topic during work time or otherwise if this helps your upward mobility goals. Don’t feel bad about reading books in company time. 5. There is only so much you can do. Compensation, upward mobility etc have many factors outside your control. So mark your boundaries and expectations accordingly for some inner peace. 5. If none of them work, move to a smaller HW org within Apple or outside Apple. Let me know your thoughts.
    Feb 20, 2018 0
  • LinkedIn iNuT20
    Prepare to sit out the required years in your current org or try to switch orgs.
    Feb 18, 2018 0
  • Intel / Eng pleb
    Similar situation here except that I'm in sw and an IC. In my case I blame it on the fact that I'm a sw guy in a company where all upward managers are hw guys who have a very shallow understanding of sw.

    On top of that I noticed that the decision makers have a closer personal relationship with each other horizontally and upwards but not downward so anything that comes from engineering is looked at with distrust and not taken seriously.

    I have no advice but I think the only way up is to penetrate their circle and buddy up with them. Go out, talk personal stuff, ask how their kids are doing, give them presents. I despise the attitude but I've seen it working.
    Feb 18, 2018 0


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