Is lateral move good for career?
Consider the pros and cons before opting for or accepting a lateral position within the organisation.
When it comes to boosting your career, a lateral move within an organisation can often be the way forward. In fact, several companies are encouraging this, with MNCs popularising the concept of ‘career lattice’, a metaphor for sideways or diagonal movement, rather than a ‘career ladder’.
While an employee may not always volunteer for such a move, with the employer shifting him laterally to another department or location to suit his needs, it can often benefit the worker. It may not only be an opportunity to acquire new skills and knowledge, but also gain experience and increase the potential for advancement. A job in a different department can also offer greater responsibilities and challenges, or help the employee avoid a dead end. However, before opting for such a move, go through these pros and cons.
Potential for promotion: Organisational structures have become much flatter, resulting in fewer opportunities for promotion. However, making a lateral move, gaining more experience and acquiring more contacts within the organisation are likely to make you a more attractive candidate for promotion when the position opens up in the future.
Stay with company: A lateral move from an underperforming department or one that is likely to be downsized, gives you a chance to not only stay with the company, but also highlight your skills in a new department.
Long-term growth: At first glance, a lateral move may not seem to push you up the career ladder, but it can actually give you more marketability in the long run. You will be able to understand different aspects of the company and functioning of various departments, making you better suited for management or executive positions in the company in future.
New team: It also means working with new people and teams, offering you the chance to make new friends and contacts.
Fresh start: If an employee faces conflict with his current superviser or disappointment in terms of growth, a lateral career move can provide him a chance to start fresh without the pressure that a promotion can bring. You also get the opportunity to learn from a new boss, especially if you feel saturated in the current post.
Starting from scratch: In case of lateral moves in some organisations, you will probably go back to the starting block, with a whole new set of skills to master and new responsibilities to shoulder. In fact, you could be at the bottom of the ladder, with a new boss and a fresh set of co-workers to deal with.
Mark of failure: Some companies use lateral career moves to shuffle out employees who have peaked in their careers. This is often seen as a mark of failure or even a prelude to a layoff. If this is the case, the employee is likely to fail at the new position unless he quickly adapts and learns all that is necessary to succeed.
Negotiate for a higher salary
Lateral move may not translate to a higher salary, but just because you are accepting another position at the same grade doesn’t always mean you have to accept the same pay. So make sure that you negotiate for a higher salary while moving to another department.
Conduct research on salaries, and go through compensation studies and surveys to determine the market rate for the job you intend to take.
Express your concern for parity and comparable pay for the qualification and skills that you bring to the organisation, as well as to your new position.
Explain that your move to another department within the organisation means that you have skills and expertise in two areas, and that you should be compensated for it accordingly.
by Sudhir Dhar