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I want to change departments but worry my manager will hold me back

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Can you apply to change departments at work without damaging your relationship with your manager? Will your reputation be tarnished if you are unsuccessful? Jennifer Davies helps a Daily Slog reader to navigate the process.

 

I work in sales, a job I fell into to pay the bills, and have long wanted to make a move into a more creative role where I can use my writing skills, something that I practice whenever I have the opportunity. An opportunity to work in the creative department has arisen within my company and I would like to apply for the role but I feel there are two obstacles in the way that I would like your help with.

Firstly, I have a good relationship with my manager and I hate the thought of letting him and the team down by moving department. Secondly, there are a shortage of sales people within the company, and they are having difficulty recruiting more people at the required level. Because of this, I am anxious that our HR department, and perhaps even my manager, will scupper my hopes to move because it better suits their needs to retain me in sales. Also, if I get to interview stage and am unsuccessful I am worried that it will reflect negatively on my standing within my current team and the wider company. 

What is the best approach to take with both my manager and HR Director, and would you advise that I have a quiet word with my prospective new manager in the creative department or would that be viewed as underhanded? 

 

Dear Reader,

This is a difficult situation that many people face in their working lives but what I would always say is that you get one life and so it’s up to you to make the most of any opportunity to follow your career dreams and aspirations. While I can understand your concern for the two issues you have outlined, you have to do what’s right for you; your career is your priority. Ask yourself, if someone else was leaving the team to follow their dreams would you feel they were letting you down? The resourcing of the department is, and should be, the priority and concern of the Department Manager and HR Director. It would be unreasonable of them to expect staff members to stay in a role forever and as their job, it is an ongoing task of theirs (not yours) to effectively resource the department.

 

Unfortunately I have come across managers and HR staff who would hamper a staff members attempts to move to suit their own needs, however, everyone has the right to develop and move forward in their career

 

The approach you take really depends on the culture of the company as some can be more encouraging of growth and career development while others are not. Unfortunately I have come across managers and HR staff who would hamper a staff members attempts to move to suit their own needs, however, everyone has the right to develop and move forward in their career and most good managers and HR personnel will recognise and support this.

You mentioned that you had a good relationship with your manager so my approach would be to start with a conversation with him and be honest about what your future career goals and aspirations are. You can outline how grateful you are for the experience and skills you have learnt in your sales role but tell them that you feel it’s your time to develop and move on. Ask them for their support on this and ask them for their advice on what you could do to better position yourself for the role in the creative department.

To prevent anything being viewed as underhanded, tell your manager that you are going to speak with both the HR Director and prospective new manager in the creative department as you feel that this will be beneficial for your chances of getting the role. Once they are aware of this, arrange to meet with them both individually. I would have a similar conversation with the HR Director that you had with your manager. With the prospective new manager, I would treat it as a mini interview, be prepared to demonstrate why you feel you are the best person for that role and what you feel you can bring to the creative team.

 

Everyone must take risks in life, some pay off, some don’t, but the common theme is that everyone takes them

 

In response to your worry that being unsuccessful will reflect negatively on your standing within your current team and the wider company I’ll quote one of my favourite sayings, “What if I fail?”, “Oh but my darling, what if you fly?”. Everyone must take risks in life, some pay off, some don’t, but the common theme is that everyone takes them. Should anyone within your team or company think that you trying for another role is something negative, then this is a poor reflection on them and not on you. You should never stop aspiring to achieve your goals, you are capable of great things and I believe even greater things if you are doing what you love, so grab every opportunity in the attempt to fly.

If you find yourself in a situation where management do try to scupper your chances and your team looks negatively on your attempt to follow your dream career, then I would suggest that you are not in a decent company and would get a job elsewhere as soon as possible!

 

About Jennifer Davies

Jennifer Davies is a HR Consultant, Career Coach & Owner of Captured HR Consultancy based in Cork, Ireland.

For more information on her services visit www.CapturedHR.ie  

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