I’ve been receiving an increasing number of phone calls from up-and-coming professionals, who have come to me in search of advice about the advantages of moving laterally. I’m not entirely sure when I became the ‘Queen of Laterals’ at AT&T, but I think it may have something to do with being in the same role for three different jobs. Needless to say, I am quite content and proud to be a spokesperson for this field. It has been an effective hidden weapon that’s worked wonders for me throughout my career!
To define a lateral move, I’ll keep it simple: It’s when someone stays within their current organization and doesn’t switch positions. If I’m currently a director in one role and take up another without changing titles, that is considered to be a lateral move.
It’s time to put an end to the false assumptions surrounding lateral moves. Let me shatter a few of these misguided beliefs today.
Myth 1: A lateral move does not promote your professional growth.
Not. No matter if you switch from making fries to crafting milkshakes, you’re still learning a different part of the operation and building your skillset. After mastering shakes, now you know how to run the register too – that means you possess more knowledge than other people in this field! When the time arrived for me to step into an authoritative role, I was chosen due to my prior knowledge of different types of customers through sales. Managing a team of sellers seemed like the logical next move in my career path given that I had already acquired such insight and appreciation for customer behavior.
Myth 2: I’d be forced to abandon my existing network and the progress I’ve made so far.
If you commit to it, you can certainly make it happen! Though this part requires a lot of discipline and dedication – which we understand may be difficult due to people’s busy lives.
How often do you hear this said around you?
Q: “How are you doing?”
It’s up to you to stay connected with your former colleagues. That may seem like a job in and of itself, but it is worth the effort. You are the boss when it comes to managing your career trajectory! You must actively remind your former colleagues of the new skills you’re learning, what resources are at your disposal, and how they further support the big picture. There’s no one more relevant than the person who can share their new organization’s best practices with their former colleagues. “Hey, Bob, remember that huge headache we have every month around staffing? Well, here’s what my new group does to solve that. You’re welcome.”
You and Bob are both champions, ensuring a victorious outcome for all!
Myth 3: There are no additional duties to be assumed.
Are you not doing as much as you want? Then I highly recommend exploring lateral career moves within a large corporation. You could be an individual contributor without any direct reports today and the next job, have the same title but now manage thousands of people! Such immense opportunities for growth make me deeply passionate about corporate laterals. No matter the world, a lateral move is always an increase in responsibility. When you map out your career trajectory thoughtfully, any shift to another role or position will inevitably result in more authority and accountability.
When I call a friend excited about my new (lateral) job change and the first thing I hear is “Congrats on your promotion!” I no longer waste precious time correcting mistakes. Any chance to be entrusted with successfully managing a complicated business is an advancement in my book.
Photo: Caspe Sparsoe / Unsplash