Peer Mentor Network

Monday, October 23, 2006

The Value of Rotations

If you haven't figured this one out yet, I'm in a rotational program at work. That means that I get to do a new job every year for three years. It's a beautiful thing because it gives me a chance to do some trial and error with my career to figure out which part of the business I love the most. It's trial and error, basically. Even if your company doesn't sponsor a defined program like this, do it on your own. Here's how:

Expand your network every day. Make friends with people who work outside your immediate group and get them to like you. Take them to lunch and have them tell you about what they do. People love to talk about themselves. Once you identify a different role within the organization that interests you, start planting the seed with your current manager. Tell them about your long-term goals and how a lateral move into another group would help you build a new and exciting skill set.

If you don't have a mentor, GET ONE! Your mentor can help you through the process in many ways. They have an extensive network and can put in a good word for you with another manager who is looking for someone to fill a spot you want.

I'm on the hunt for my next rotation now and my network is proving to be very useful. I told one of my informal mentors which positions I'm looking for and he's making phone calls on my behalf to help me find the right position. Once you meet with your potential new manager and they decide they want you, let your current manager know that you will be accepting the new role and negotiate the transition. This process can take a long time in some cases so if you're getting bored with your current job, start the process today.

The only down side is that your current manager will have to replace you. Believe me, you have to be selfish and get over that. The up side is tremendous in the long-run. You will become more well rounded, leading to increased job satisfaction, leading to incresed performance which serves your company well.

If your company doesn't offer the position you want then you need to find a new company that does. For example, I'm interested in getting exposure to Investor Relations in the long-run, but those jobs are at our corporate headquarters in Bethesda, Maryland. When I'm ready to do that rotation, I'll either have to be willing to relocate, or I'll have to be willing to find another company to work for in Silicon Valley that offers what I'm looking for.

All the upper level management I've met with talks about the value of new and challenging assignments in their career development. That means that the "rotation process" should never end. View every job as a stepping stone to the next job. Continually update your development plan with skills you've learned in past jobs and skills you hope to obtain in future jobs in order to meet your long-term objectives.

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