Move laterally or through the exit door?
Career experts and engagement studies reveal, that such spurts in engagement are short-lived and may cause more harm than good
The decision to move laterally within the organisation should never be driven by dissatisfaction in the current role
Moving laterally within the organisation has become common practice for professionals looking to expand their skill horizons, find more exciting work, move away from a bad manager, or cover ground for a slump in their careers. A lateral move benefits a professional’s career in various ways by charting out new career paths, providing re-skilling opportunities and driving renewed engagement. Experts, however, recommend that covering up for a slump in the present career through a lateral move within the organisation is never a good idea.
Glassdoor’s ongoing global survey reveals that almost 1/3rd of professionals across the world are unhappy with their current jobs. Several reasons drive dissatisfaction, including bad managers, low engagement, work experiences and stalled careers. When a professional decides to move to a different team, he faces a new team environment with lower levels of expectations. These changes appear fresh and welcoming, causing a sudden upswing in drive and motivation. In an article published by BBC Capital, executive coach Joel Garfinkle and author of Getting Ahead: Three Steps to Take Your Career to the Next Level Career is quoted as saying, “A lateral move into another group can offer you the excitement and the challenge of a new position without the bigger risks of changing organizations.”
Career experts and engagement studies reveal, however, that such spurts in engagement are short-lived and may cause more harm than good to an individual’s career.
After spending some time training and acclimatising to a new role, the realities of expectations start dawning in. An individual who has moved from another part of the organisation is assumed to have sufficient organisational knowledge and expectations tend to be higher compared to someone who is hired for the same role externally. If the individual moved to the new role because s/he was disengaged with organisational factors, such as performance management processes, perceived employment value, or the management style of the senior leadership, it will only be a matter of time before these very factors come back to haunt him.
If the individual becomes disengaged again after moving to the new team, it is highly likely that one will have doubts about one’s own capabilities and professional fit. The repeat of a negative experience aggravates the dent on confidence and might push the individual further down a professional abyss. In a tough market where jobs are scarce, such a development equates to career suicide.
Unless a professional is to looking to learn new skills or explore career opportunities, making an internal lateral move to escape dissatisfaction in one team is never a good idea. The BBC Capital article argues that on such occasions, the door with the ‘exit’ sign is the door of real opportunity.