Lateral movement within organization

It is quite natural that at some point or time in one’s career one gets bored, where one goes through a phase of questioning the job and one’s presence in the organization. Reasons are many, like being bogged down by routine tasks, a need for challenge, sizing up your achievements against others etc. These are not just questions that bother the employee, as India Inc., too has realized that an employee can feel redundant at his/her job and the next step that one takes is to quit to find greener pastures. However, to curb attrition organizations have started encouraging lateral moves to give the employees more challenges.

Though the concept is not a new one, experts believe that moving an employee internally is a sure shot way of rewarding top talent. Internal movements help up in identifying and rewarding top talent by providing opportunities for their growth and development. It maximizes their exposure to different domains and other areas of the business. It also keeps them motivated by helping them take up challenging assignments to learn and develop new skills. Employees move from one occupational level to another in their efforts to establish themselves. Also, these movements from level to level imply changes in skill competency and income. Such periodical movements help the organization as well as the employee to retrospect and plan accordingly to achieve organizational goals and also to improve on a personal front.

It is true that today, many organizations encourage such intra-organizational movements. But leaving your comfort zone and taking up a different role is not an easy task. The first step towards any lateral shift is a change in mindset. You must have the ability to grasp new things, be flexible and must have a can-do attitude. Building network also helps you quickly ramp up on the assignment. You need to leverage your expertise to add a new dimension, which adds value to the organization.

While such movements are not easy, if planned well, they result in improved commitment and business convergence. The process requires knowledge of the function to which the employee is being moved.

At ‘Geometric’ we see a number of movements between different business units and core IT functions. For example, an employee working on development of their product DFMro may opt to move to development of 3D Paint Brush projects; alternatively they could completely shift focus and move to an industry specific offering like fashion practice.

Usually such movement happens between core business management functions and support functions, so managing such vertical movements are very crucial. Organizations have various tools and procedures in place to make this transition hassle free.

Movements are never easy to enforce across the organization. In order to ensure a smooth transition of any individual from one project to another the guidelines for such movements are strictly adhered to and the confidentiality of the candidate is maintained from the current manager till the final selection of the candidate happens. These movements are irrespective of the domain, projects or verticals.

Cadence has a well structured career program which is open to all the employees. This program helps an employee to evaluate his/her strength and weaknesses, and provides a platform to draw out his/her own development plans in consultation with his/her manager, thus opening up a wide range of opportunities within the organization. With all organizational structures companies today view lateral moves not only as retention tools but also as a platform to enable care progression and professional development of employees.

Cross brand and cross functional short term assignments are provided to all IBM employees which helps them to get a broad vision of the various aspects of IBM’s business. Also, they follow competency-based promotions model that also allows job rotation. A competency based structure ensures that the employee’s aspirations are met.

With such processes in place, employees have more freedom and also have more control over his/her own career. Internal movements serve two purposes. First it unblocks individual growth potential for existing employee, whose growth may be blocked along the traditional career ladders. Secondly, it assures exposure to a variety of functions, thereby for growth in the organization and supporting their aspiration wile meeting an organizational need.

Movement within the organization could be a great driving force of retention. It offers growth opportunities to the employees and enhanced learning opportunities. It also promotes a sense of involvement and engagement within the organization leading the organization to improve employee retention.

Competitive employers today have two choices import talent or develop talent on the home turf. The first option is expensive. And the second represents a long term investments education, training, and retention.