The shortest distance between two points is a straight line.
Given that mathematical certainty, it stands to reason that every couple of years employees should seek a promotion – more responsibility, larger projects, bigger organizations to manage – all with the goal of getting closer to the top layers of the company.
But promotion is not always the most desirable path. One of the benefits of working for a large corporation is the ability to move within the company and gain experience. This is a benefit that you can leverage to enhance your career.
Consider the lateral move.
1. Enhancing skills – There is no better way to build skills than by doing the job. Whether you are moving from sales to marketing, or moving to a new product area within a development team, a lateral move is one of the quickest ways to learn something new. In turn, the new skills make you more valuable to the company.
2. Understanding of the business – Managers and executives often seem to be too far away from where the action is to understand how their decisions will be implemented or will impact employees. The more you know about how things really work in the trenches, the better off you will be when it’s your turn to make those decisions.
3. It’s an easier transition than a new job with a promotion – If you’re bored with your current job, or you are at a point in your career where you want a change, but don’t want the extra hours and responsibilities that usually come with a promotional opportunity, taking a lateral move may be just the boost you need to keep you engaged and vital.
4. You can bring a fresh perspective – When you move into a new discipline or a different business unit, you bring with you the knowledge from your prior roles. If you are moving from sales to marketing, you can instantly be an expert on how the sales teams will react to a new marketing program. If you’re moving from a software unit to a services unit, you may be able to spot opportunities for the units to work together. If you can leverage your knowledge from prior roles, you will quickly be considered an asset to your new team.
5. Exposure to different managers and executives – Throughout your career you will report to dozens of managers. It’s great to be well known and respected by the managers and executives in one area of the business, but when the leaders of multiple business units know and respect you, you will be better positioned for higher level opportunities in the future.
What’s your experience with the lateral move? Would you consider it?