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ONLINE DOCUMENT: LATERAL CAREER MOVES...DIFFICULT TO WORK WITH

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Q: I was recently approached by my supervisor about transferring to another position within the company. As we discussed the issue, it became apparent the move would be a lateral one and would not result in increased status or pay. A lot of positive results for making the transfer were presented, but I still wasn't sure whether to be flattered or insulted! What is your opinion of lateral career moves and is it true that this has become an acceptable form of career movement?

A: Changing workplace trends have required us to reevaluate different actions which would have carried a certain stigma several years ago but today are perfectly acceptable and often quite advantageous in terms of long-term career strategy.Chances are, the positives presented to you by your supervisor were well thought out and accurate. Many factors, including team implementation, restructuring, downsizing and re-engineering, have caused lateral movement to become commonplace. Some say the whole issue of a "career ladder" is outdated with employers much more interested in individuals who can demonstrate flexibility, adaptability and cross-functional expertise in many areas of operation.

Before making a final decision, weigh the following factors carefully:

- Am you currently in an area which could be vulnerable to outsourcing or elimination?

- Would the move give you new skills in a functional growth area increasing your value to the organization or to future employers?

- Will the move give you additional opportunities to interact with senior decision makers?

- Who would replace you and is that replacement a decision with which you would agree?

- Have other lateral moves occurred in your organization?

Be sure you have considered all the factors and aren't allowing an outdated way of thinking to color your thoughts! Good luck!

Q: As part of a performance review program, my company implemented a supervisory evaluation program which is conducted annually. We've just completed this year's evaluations and I was surprised and disappointed to see that some of my employees perceive me as being "difficult" to work for.

There isn't much room for explanation, so I'm not sure how to interpret its meaning since it has never been mentioned before and I've had no turnover in my area this year. Can you help?

A: Most organizations have undergone changes in recent years, resulting in more work to be done by less people and more people supervised by fewer managers. Whether this describes your circumstances, it sounds as if your supervisory style has subtly changed and my guess would be that it is due to stress which you may not even be aware.

With pen and paper in hand, analyze the following questions and document specific examples which come to mind where you would have to answer "yes" to any one or all of them. Take the questions and documentation to a meeting with your supervisor and solicit his or her support and encouragement as you reexamine negative management habits you may have slipped into unconsciously.

The questions:

- Do you raise your voice more frequently?

- Do you notice employees avoiding contact with you?

- Are you giving employees more negative and less positive feedback?

- Do you spend more time making sure employees do their jobs correctly instead of motivating them (and yourself) to develop as leaders?

- Are you spending enough time one-on-one with your employees talking over problems, passing along information and communicating goals?

- Do you find yourself withholding information because it takes too much time to get everyone together?

- Would your employees say that you usually take the optimistic viewpoint rather than the pessimistic?

(Donna Cobble, who operates an employment agency in Knoxville, writes this weekly column on careers. She is supported by an advisory committee of personnel directors from private companies, public institutions and the University of Tennessee. Letters should be addressed to Careers, Knoxville News-Sentinel, P.O. Box 59038, Knoxville, Tenn. 37950-9038.)