Career Transition

How to Make a Lateral Move – Three Steps to Execute The Transition

lateral career move

When the time comes to make a lateral move, following certain steps can help to put everyone at ease.

(This is Part 2 in our Lateral Transition series. For the first article, visit here.)

It is vital that you uphold your sterling reputation and not burn any bridges—after all, you never know when it will be time to make another move, maybe one that will even take you back into your former organization or back into your former line of business. To help you execute a smooth transition, Ivy Exec has compiled a lateral move checklist that can guide the way.

Step 1: Position Yourself for the Move

  • Do The Easiest Networking of Your Life

If you’re planning an in-house lateral move, start by informally asking around with the people on the team that you’re targeting for your transition.  If the role still seems right, see if you can gain some support from the team to help recommend you for the role—but only make your true intentions known to them after discussing your plan with your current manager.

  • Communicate With Your Current Manager

Make sure that you have a face-to-face discussion about your plan to transition with your current manager. It’s likely that your supervisor will be the first call your future manager makes when assessing your candidacy for a role on her team. Best for that phone call or meeting to not be your current manager’s first notice that he’s about to lose a vital team member. This should be a frank but positive discussion. Even if your relationship with your current manager is a top reason for your desire to transition, be sure to emphasize the ways in which he has helped you grow and develop in your career.

  • Notify the Hiring Manager About Your Intentions

Next, find out who is the person doing the hiring on your future team. Try and meet him or her in person to say that you are submitting an application and give a few reasons why you think you’ll be a good fit. Once you get to the interview stage, you will be a known quantity and will have already put forward a friendly face.

And if all goes well…

Step 2: Make a Seamless Transition

  • Preserve Your Reputation and Move on Great Terms

First, create a timeline with your current manager. If you have short-term projects in the queue that you’re able to complete, go above-and-beyond to do so. If you have longer-term projects that you will no longer be able to see through, work with your manager to assign new point persons for each of them. Also, build a file for every project you will not be able to complete that details the steps already accomplished along with those that have yet to be completed.

  • Set The Next Person up For Success

Create a job description for the role you are leaving. In the years you held the role, the position may have changed. It’s important for your manager to know all of the tasks you do so that he can prepare for the next person to take the spot. Also helpful is including advice and tips to do your job well—that can go a long way toward preserving good will within your department.

  • Hold an Exit Interview

Finally, hold one, last meeting with your manager—preferably not on your last day. Make sure you agree that all deliverables have been addressed and that none remain unaccounted for. You may also wish to offer your assistance in reviewing candidates for your role.

Step 3: Onboard With Ease

  • Start By Playing Detective

Get to know your team and their daily operations. Ask them questions and begin assessing strengths and weaknesses of the process currently in place. Gather information on key initiatives and challenges. Although you may feel pressed to jump right in and begin making changes, wait until you’ve gathered all of the facts first.

  • Meet Your Team And Learn Their Roles

Next, learn about your coworkers, express an interest in them both as workers and as people to help begin building a relationship with them—although it’s best to avoid any topics that are too personal at this point. There could be any number of reasons that you were able to move into this vacant role: perhaps a beloved manager was fired. Always be sensitive to the needs of the team before taking any significant action.

  • Maintain Your Network

Finally, keep up your connections from your prior role. Check in with your previous manager to see how the new hire is working out and offer any advice or guidance that may be needed. Keep in mind, the way that your old department remembers you may be more important than any of your actual accomplishments while on the job.

About the Author

R. Kress is an Emmy Award winning journalist whose reporting and writing has appeared in national media from NBC News to the International Herald Tribune. She has covered news from cities around the world including Jerusalem, Krakow, Amman and Mumbai.