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。
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 ...