Lateral Move – A great way to career development

In a lateral move, an employee moves to an equivalent role in an organization, usually with a similar salary range and a job title at the same level. In a lateral move, though, the employee’s job responsibilities change thus affording the employee new opportunities.

A lateral move gives the employee a chance to expand his skills and network with a new circle of employees and customers. A lateral move is an opportunity for an employee to expand his or her career path opportunities.

Visually, in a lateral move, the employee’s new job is equal to or on the same level on an organizational chart as the employee’s former job. The employee who accepts a lateral move may or may not report to the same manager depending on the responsibilities that report to that manager.

Often, it affords the employee the opportunity to report to a new manager which allows his or her organization to develop a wider and broader knowledge about the skills and experience the employee brings. This can affect later career moves and opportunities.

Likewise, the employee experiencing a lateral move may or may not change departments, offices, work areas, or work groups. But, if the employee does, once again, it affords more members of the organization the opportunity to become familiar with the employee’ contributions and potential.

In any organization, job promotions are limited by the number of roles needed to accomplish the work.

The number of available roles, as seen visually on an organizational chart, decreases higher on the chart as fewer and fewer people are needed to fill the next layer of jobs.

As an employee advances up the organizational chart, fewer opportunities exist.  Organizations need fewer people who organize and manage the work and oversee the work of others than they need employees who actually do the work.

Advantages of a Lateral Move

Consequently, the lateral move provides a career path for employees, training, and new experiences for employees when job promotions are not available. A lateral move provides advantages for an employee. In a lateral move, the employee:

  • gains new knowledge and skills by performing a different job that requires new skills and provides different responsibilities.
  • overcomes boredom and dissatisfaction by having a new and different job with changed responsibilities, tasks, and coworkers, and possibly new customers and clients.
  • is given a new challenge, a chance for the employee to expand his or her accomplishments, reach, impact, and potentially, influence different aspects of the work.
  • may learn about different facets of the organization and how work is accomplished in different departments or job functions. (This will build his or her organizational knowledge and ability to get things done in the future.)
  • is prepared for a promotional opportunity by receiving the chance to expand his or her skill set and responsibilities, and gain broader knowledge about the organization.
  • gains visibility with a new group of coworkers and managers. Visibility for a good employee brings potential opportunities.

A lateral move is viewed as desirable by employees because of the impact a lateral move has on the employee’s opportunity for personal and professional growth and motivation. While a lateral move may not heavily affect pay, the lateral move is often accompanied by a small increase in pay.

Increased, or at least, changed responsibility, and the ability to influence broader organizational decision making may also occur with a lateral move.

A lateral move raises the status of the employee who receives the lateral move. The move is a visible sign of esteem from the employer that they are developing the employee and preparing him or her for bigger and better opportunities. Coworkers see this as do managers.

The lateral move is viewed as a continuing commitment from the employer to enable the employee to continue to develop and grow in their employment and pursue a desirable career path.

It is valued as an opportunity booster. It is cherished by employees who are not quite ready for – or an opportunity doesn’t exist for a promotion. The employee’s career continues to grow.



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