Client Question: “I am interested in moving to a different area of my organization. What are some steps that I should do to make this happen?
The first step is to connect with some of the people who already work in that area. This is more of a knowledge exchange to find out about the area and share information about yourself. You can say that you are exploring multiple areas of the company to learn more about them.
• Identify some people in the area that you want to go to and network with them.
• Meet with them and ask some questions to better understand what “a day in the life of their job” looks like.
• Include questions about the clients, the issues, the type of projects, the organization, the budgets, what it takes to be successful, how things get done, etc
• Share information about yourself and your background.
• Would this be a good fit for you? Would it help you develop your skills more broadly and give you more exposure to senior management? Are there things that you need to work on now to help you be more successful there?
If you determine that you like the area and would like to pursue it a possible change, then the second step is to get the support of your manager. You don’t want your manager to hear it through the grapevine before you tell them. Also, make sure that you have thought through the timing of a potential change. You will most likely not get the support of your manager if you are in the middle of a big project.
• Share the information that you have learned in your networking meetings and why you feel like you would be a good fit. Managers may hear about new opportunities from other managers. so it is good to communicate your interest about a role in this other area.
• Ask for their support to help you make this change. Managers can reach out to other managers to recommend a person and find out if there are any potential openings.
• They may ask if you have a recommendation for who could replace you in your current role. Your manager will need to ensure that there is continuity in place if you were to leave. Be prepared to share a list of potential backfills for your current role with your manager.
• If they don’t feel you are ready for this change, then ask for feedback about what you would need to do to be ready.
The third step is to start preparing for a possible change before it happens.
• There is an old saying “you have to do the job before you get the job.” Find ways to be visible and show that you are doing the job to others. You want the decision to be very easy for management to move you into this new role.
• If you need to build skills in a certain area before you would be considered, then look for opportunities to build and then demonstrate these skills (projects, task forces, special assignment, volunteer groups) Continue to check in with your manager on your progress and keep the idea in front of them.
• Do you need to start preparing your backfill? What can you do to continue to prepare them for the skills that they would need to take on your role?
• Think about the things that you would need to transition to someone else if you had to leave. Prepare a transition plan that could be executed quickly and update as things change.
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