21 Sep Is ‘That’ A Step Up? 8 Reasons To Make A Lateral Move

lateral move

Recently, Josh, my friend and colleague, stopped into my office to say hello. A few minutes into our conversation, he said, “I heard Billy Bob took another position here. Is that true?” I replied, “It is! I’m so happy for Billy.” Josh asked, “Is that even a promotion or a step up?” As my phone started to ring, I quickly responded, “It’s a promotion because it’s a promotion to Billy.” Unfortunately, the incoming call ended our conversation abruptly.

Promoted, Demoted, or Something Else?

As the day went on, I found myself thinking about the brief, yet powerful exchange that I had had with Josh. I kept asking myself, “Was Billy promoted, demoted, or something else?” I came to the conclusion that it was ‘something else.’ Billy had made a lateral career move. Then, I wondered, “But why would anyone want to make a lateral move on the job?” Very quickly it occurred to me that I had already made 5 lateral moves within my career. As I pondered the lateral moves that I had made, as well as the moves of the people I’ve led or continue to lead, I realized 8 different reasons for why one might make a lateral career move.

8 Reasons to Make A Lateral Career Move

1. Obtain a new boss. You might want to fire your boss if he or she has unrealistic expectations, doesn’t offer praise or recognition, or chooses not to spend any quality time with you. Can you relate? On the other hand, you might head to the nearest exit for a horizontal opportunity to work for a leader who you will help take you to the next level in your career. Does your boss encourage or hinder your growth? Enjoy an example of how a former boss of mine added value to my life: When A Leader Gives, Everyone Grows

2. Work for a new organization. If you’re stuck in a dead-end position, you might be at the wrong company. A lateral shift could get you back on track. Is now the time to explore organizations that have more long-term opportunities?

3. Learn new skills. Are you getting passed up for promotions over and over again? If so, you might be lacking a specific skill. I can relate. When I moved from Marquette University to the University of Utah, I was looking to spend less time on operations and more time developing the skill of coaching. Would a lateral move foster the chance to develop the skills and confidence level that you need to reach your career aspirations once and for all?

4. Maintain employment. Does your company have a toxic environment or are they losing money with little to no chance of them turning it around?  A lateral move might be just what you need to simply to have a job.

5. Earn the next job opening. Don’t wait. You’ll be much more likely to receive the next job opening if you start doing the job that you really want right now. When I made a lateral move from the Milwaukee Bucks to Marquette University, I was hired as the Video Coordinator. Within 90 days, I was promoted to the Coordinator of Basketball Operations. While two coaches had left the program leaving more room for me, they still could have hired externally. I firmly believe that I was given a chance because I immediately began to support my colleagues with team travel, equipment, and basketball camp.  To read more about how to make your own opportunities, please read my blog post: 3 Lessons to Cut Your Own Path at the Fork in the Road

6. Move closer to your passion. Are you bored and lacking the necessary incentive to help take you from where you are to where you want to go? If so, I’m guessing that you probably don’t love what you do. I once made a lateral move from selling beer to selling fitness. Why? I wasn’t passionate about beer, but I was passionate about fitness. Within no time, I was much closer to my goals and dreams. Would a move sideways make you hungry again?

Click to Tweet: Get a job with benefits. Just be sure to find the job that benefits you. @derekdeprey

7. Grow the size of your network. Do you feel like you’re working by yourself while you crave a team environment? A lateral move could give you that energizing environment that you’re craving.

8. Be a team player. Do both parents work? If your spouse receives a job promotion in a different state, you might just have to make a lateral move to stay employed. Working as a team to make the right moves is one way to make life more desirable.  Are you a single parent? You might have to make a lateral move to attain a better schedule… which was the real reason why Billy Bob decided to make a lateral shift in position. Sometimes, the higher you go, the harder the tradeoff.

A Job Promotion Is About Getting What YOU Want

So, is it wise for you to forge ahead even if it means making lateral moves? It might be. As you can see, there are a number of reasons as to why one would move laterally. Advancing isn’t always about a new job title. Stop worrying about other people’s perceptions. Not everybody wants to trade more hours and more responsibility for a bigger paycheck.

Click to Tweet: A job promotion is about getting what YOU want, not what someone else thinks you need. @derekdeprey

ACTION: Take a long honest look about where you are today, and how well you have developed your ideal career situation. Talk to your mentor(s) or to someone trusted who doesn’t have a dog in your race, and listen to what they can contribute. Finally, evaluate your satisfaction level and decide if it is time to make a change.



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