What Are Some Advantages of Lateral Moves?

Let’s face it — with the flattening of organizational layers, corporate career ladders have lost rungs and there are now fewer options for growing by moving up, while clients and consumers today expect their first point of contact to know more, do more and be prepared to handle a broader set of requests than ever before.

New avenues for professional growth emerged from the need for breadth of expertise. 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.

While on the same level on an organizational chart as the former job, an employee’s immediate report may or may not be the same manager, but different responsibilities will most certainly come with the move. Development happens through a partnership — between the employee, the managers who support them and the company.

A new manager can develop a wider and broader knowledge about the skills and experience that can affect later career moves. Such a move may or may not come with a change in departments, offices or work areas. In general, employees who make a “sidestep” are afforded the chance to have more members of the organization become 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 changed 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 work.
  • Co-workers and managers get to know different employees if they are moved into new groups, and with visibility comes potential opportunities.
  • Employees may see a rise in personal and professional growth and motivation.

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 how and 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.

Employees should see sideways moves as a sign that you are developing and preparing them for bigger and better opportunities. It shows that employees are desired and still pursuing a career path.

Lateral moves are opportunity boosters when an opportunity doesn’t exist for a promotion. One way of introducing lateral assignments into career development processes is to let individuals experience lateral assignments before being considered for promotional opportunities.

Employees and employers should see that what’s being built is a multitalented workforce that can view the firm through a wide-angle lens.


Our firm provides the information in this e-newsletter for general guidance only, and does not constitute the provision of legal advice, tax advice, accounting services, investment advice, or professional consulting of any kind. The information provided herein should not be used as a substitute for consultation with professional tax, accounting, legal, or other competent advisers. Before making any decision or taking any action, you should consult a professional adviser who has been provided with all pertinent facts relevant to your particular situation. The information is provided “as is,” with no assurance or guarantee of completeness, accuracy, or timeliness of the information, and without warranty of any kind, express or implied, including but not limited to warranties of performance, merchantability, and fitness for a particular purpose.

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