Lateral Moves: Will They Advance Your Career?

Sections of this topic

    lateral moves: advance your careerThere are times when a lateral move can be as important to your career as a promotion. Is this one of them?

    Here’s a reader’s situation.

    “I have a boss who is sitting out time till his retirement. I can’t move up until he goes. Another manager has given me some hints that I could transfer to her department. It would not be a promotion. And people, who work for her, tell me she is tough and demanding. I’m not sure it’s a wise move.”

    It seems you have a choice between going stale or being shaken up. You know what you would be leaving but do you know what you’re getting into? So before you decide:

    Dig deep and wide for insights.

    Set up a meeting to find out about the position and its responsibilities as well as your new boss’s style, expectations and goals. If you have a mentor, ask his or her opinion about the value and consequences of this specific move. If you feel comfortable, even talk to your present boss about this potential opportunity. Some things to consider:

    • Can you work with her? One person may see her high expectations as demanding; another might see it as a high level of professionalism. What do you see?
    • Is this department in a growing mode or is it hanging on for dear life? You don’t want to leave a secure position for one that may be laying off or outsourcing.
    • What’s the company’s attitude toward people who transfer out of one functional area to another? Is it seen as “job hopping” or as gaining operational knowledge?
    • What about your motivation? Do you see this move as an escape from boredom and frustration or as an experience that will help you move upward at another time?

    Now it’s time to decide.

    You can stay where you are – bored, frustrated, sitting on your hands until you boss retires or making a move – new boss, new responsibilities, new expectations and a certain amount of uncertainty. What is it going to be?

    Career Success Tip

    Lateral moves are a valuable strategic career management option if it provides you with a working environment where you can thrive; a good fit between you talents and the position’s responsibilities; and opportunities for growth and advancement.

    Readers, what do you think? Have lateral transfers enhanced or detracted from your career growth?

    Do you want to develop Career Smarts?