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专栏 - 向Anne提问

横向调动:阳关道还是死胡同?

Anne Fisher 2014年03月11日

Anne Fisher为《财富》杂志《向Anne提问》的专栏作者,这个职场专栏始于1996年,帮助读者适应经济的兴衰起落、行业转换,以及工作中面临的各种困惑。
横向的职位调动既有可能让你走上晋升的阳关道,也可以让你走进一蹶不振的死胡同。当横向调动的机遇摆在面前时,如何判断是福是祸?你只要能回答5个问题就能得出准确的答案。

    亲爱的安妮:四年前,我刚从大学毕业就加入了现在的公司。之前,我暑假也在这家公司实习过。如今一切都很顺利。但公司刚刚给我安排了一个新职位,我正在考虑要不要接受,希望您能给我一些建议。这个新岗位不是升职,而是横向调动,要到一个相对较新的部门担任副主管。这看上去是一个很好的机遇,我不仅能增加经验,还能拓展人脉。

    但我还是禁不住怀疑,这个职位是否是一条死胡同?接手新职位之后,我将离开现任公司高管们所遵循的职业轨迹。面对横向的职位调动,应该如何辨别它能否带来职业上的晋升呢?现在我有权选择是接受新职位还是留守老职位,部门经理给了我两个星期的时间来做决定。——匹兹堡帕蒂

    亲爱的P.P.:大萧条之后,许多公司规模都出现了大幅精简,管理层级越来越少,这也使得纵向升职机会十分难得,因此很多人都面临着你现在的处境。一般情况下这是好事。“从很多方面来看,横向调动都是非常好的机会,尤其是当这个职位能为你带来公司很看重的某项经验时,”位于加利福尼亚州帕萨迪纳市的国际企业培训公司(Corporate Coaching International)CEO洛伊丝·弗兰克尔说。这家公司拥有众多《财富》美国500强客户,包括迪士尼(Disney)、宝洁(Procter & Gamble)、洛克希德马丁公司(Lockheed Martin)等。

    然而不幸的是,弗兰克尔指导过的许多管理者中,也有人在接受横向调动之后,职业生涯出现了停滞。“在了解一个工作之前,千万不要随便就接受”,弗兰克尔说。“想搞清楚某个横向调动是不是死胡同,唯一的办法是提前收集大量有关新职位的信息。”

    你提到这个新职位在一个相对较新的部门,那么现任高管们在升职前,这个部门可能还不存在。因此,他们的职业轨迹对你并没有参考价值。弗兰克尔建议,想避免走入“冷宫”,你可以参考下面这些问题。

    1.大体上,你们公司如何看待横向调动?在某些公司中,跨业务部门工作,包括接手一两个国际职位,相当于“通过验证”。弗兰克尔说:“它被认为是成为未来高管的必要步骤。”然而,在另外一些公司里,却不是这么回事。看看公司里的明星高管们,他们是不是正在进行横向调动?或者之前是否有过横向调动的经历?还是只经历过纵向的调动?

    2.这个职位的前任后来命运如何?问问别人这个职位的前任身上发生过什么,如果他/她得到了升职,或者跳到了公司内部其它好职位,那很好。但如果这个职位的前任——更坏的是前面好几任——都要么辞职,要么被炒鱿鱼,那就是很明显的凶兆。“当心任何发生过太多‘地震’的职位,”弗兰克尔说。有时候问题出在这个职位的顶头上司,而这会导致……

    

    Dear Annie:I started with this company right out of college four years ago, after doing a summer internship here, and so far everything's going great. Now, I've been offered a job that I'm wondering whether to take, and I could use some advice. It would be a lateral move, into the second-in-command spot in a relatively new division, rather than a promotion, and it seems like an interesting opportunity to expand my experience and my network.

    Still, I can't help wondering if the job might be a dead end, since it takes me off the usual career path that people in senior management have followed here. How do you tell the difference between a lateral move that will lead upward eventually and one that probably won't? I do have a choice about whether to do this or stay where I am (for now), and our division head has given me two weeks to decide. --?Patty in Pittsburgh

    Dear P.P.:With companies running so much leaner now than before the recession, vanishing layers of management have made?promotions hard to come by, so plenty of people are finding themselves in your shoes. Often, that's fine. "Lateral moves can be great for all kinds of reasons, especially if they give you a chance to gain new experience that's important to your company," says Lois Frankel, CEO of Corporate Coaching International, a Pasadena, Calif.-based executive development firm that numbers Disney (DIS), Procter & Gamble (PG), and Lockheed Martin (LMT) among its many?Fortune 500?clients.

    Unfortunately, Frankel has also coached people who took a step sideways only to find that their careers had stalled out. "Never take any job offer without checking it out first," she says. "The only way to tell whether a lateral move leads to a dead end is to gather lots of information beforehand about the situation you'd be stepping into."

    Since you say the division where you'd be going to is relatively new, it may not have been part of the company when the current crop of senior managers was on its way up, so their career path doesn't tell you much. To steer clear of a possible corporate backwater, Frankel suggests asking the following questions:

    1.?How are lateral moves in general regarded where you work?At some companies, working in several different business units, including taking on an international assignment or two, is equivalent to "getting your ticket punched," Frankel notes. "It's considered necessary for future senior managers." At other firms, however, not so much. Take a look at the stars at your own organization. Are they making, or have they made, moves similar to the one you're weighing now, or only upward ones?

    2. What has happened to the person(s) who had the job before?If you ask around and find out that he or she is being promoted, or is moving to some other interesting job in-house, great. But if your predecessor -- or, worse, the past several -- quit or was fired, clearly that's a sign of trouble ahead. "Beware of any job where there has been a lot of 'churn,'" Frankel says. Sometimes the problem is the boss you'd be working for, which brings us to ...

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