For the most part, employees look for opportunities for promotion and career advancement. Lateral moves were frowned upon as people looked for the next rung in their attempt to climb to the top. However, depending on the person and the situation, there are times when a lateral move can be a really great career move.
More and more companies are leveling out their top echelon in an effort to become remove hurdles and streamline processes. With the flattening of organizational layers, there are now fewer options for growing by moving up. Conversely, clients now expect their first point of contact to handle a broader set of requests. New avenues for professional growth emerged from the need for a breadth of expertise.
So what are the advantages of lateral moves?
A strategic development option.
A chance to expand skills and network with a new circle of employees and customers.
An opportunity to expand career path opportunities.
An employee may no longer have the same manager, but will certainly have new responsibilities. Development happens through a partnership — between the employee, the managers who support them, and the company.
A new manager can help broaden their knowledge and experience. Such a move may or may not come with a change in departments, offices, or work areas. However, employees who make a “sidestep” generally have more members of the organization familiar with their contributions and potential.
Sideways moves provide a career path, training, and new experiences when job promotions are not available.
A new and different job with altered responsibilities, tasks, and coworkers — and possibly new customers and clients — can go a long way when it comes to alleviating boredom.
A new challenge can expand accomplishments, reach, and impact, while potentially influencing different aspects of the work process.
Moving employees to different groups enables co-workers and managers to get to know them. With visibility comes potential opportunities.
Employees may see a rise in personal and professional growth and motivation.
All things considered, companies are wise to celebrate sidesteps with announcements and congratulatory communications, to show these changes are just as important as traditional promotions.
Fostering Lateral Moves
You should examine whether hiring managers are giving serious consideration to applicants from outside their functional areas:
Check to make sure no one is hoarding talent by discouraging or blocking moves out of a team or department.
Ensure employees have access to information about openings in other areas that might be of interest.
Check where lateral moves are available and happening in the company and whether the firm is recognizing managers who support them.
Lateral moves are experience boosters when an opportunity doesn’t exist for a promotion. Let individuals experience lateral assignments before being considered, as a way of introduction. Remember, employees should see sideways moves as a sign that you are developing and preparing them for bigger and better roles.
What’s being built is a multi-talented workforce that can view the firm through varying angles. With lateral moves, you ensure that each team member is a key player.