How to Transition Between Roles Within A Company - My Tips & Story
Branching Out and Seeking a New Opportunity
I never saw myself in an IT or VoIP company, but I’ve been at it now for over 2 years and been plugging right along, enjoying it every step of the way.
I just recently changed roles from an operations management position managing 14 people, into a marketing position spearheading our channel marketing efforts for our network of partners who support our cloud phone business.
I want to preface this post by stating that my reasons for wanting to move into a new role were all positive, and I actually gave it a lot of thought as to how it would be interpreted by my manager and co-workers. It’s good to evaluate the reasons why you might want to change jobs. It had nothing to do with any sort of clash with co-workers or managers, or lack of fulfillment in my role. I was driven to the new role based on my previous work experience and the desire to continue to expand my knowledge of my company, and how it plays in the grander IT/VoIP “sandbox”. Luckily, I had done a decent enough job in my role and established myself as a reliable and committed contributor to our company, that I was afforded the luxury to put feelers out there within our internal job board.
The two positions I’ve held at ShoreTel didn’t exist before I stepped into them. I seem to enjoy taking on roles where I’m the trailblazer and the successor to-- no one. My first job with ShoreTel (FKA M5 Networks) was to create, develop, define and manage a team of Account Advocates to provide exceptional customer service in an effort to retain our current customer base. It was an idea thrown around, and piloted but once it was finally committed to, is when I came on board. Now, I’m spearheading the effort to increase the amount of marketing support we’re providing our partners, as well as focusing on helping them increase the amount of leads they are generating for our service while also keeping in mind that we want to create a program that lends itself to recruiting even more effective partners to resell our services.
I had spent nearly 8 years in marketing and advertising agencies prior to joining ShoreTel, so there was a foundation to justify this move. I had always had the desire to move away from the agency world and in to the client side, which is why I took the operations management role in the first place…so I could learn about the VoIP market and join a company where I felt my values aligned and where I could passionately represent a single product or service, rather than representing 40-50 different companies, solutions and products.
The transition between roles took a few months, and it was a delicate balance of making sure my responsibilities were well defined and documented for my successors (yup, plural, I had to be replaced by 2 people to take my place in the management role. At the same time, I was making every effort to get to know the folks I would soon be working with, as well as understanding the Channel Partner world. It is a brand new role within the cloud division of the company, and I have been fortunate enough to be fully involved in helping determine the course to take, as well as defining the role itself, working closely with my new manager.
I was fortunate enough to have a manager in my previous role who was not excited with having to replace me, but was incredibly supportive of my desire to take a step in a new direction within the company. I’m very fortunate again to have a very understanding manager in my brand new role with loads of experience in dealing with new endeavors, and the trials and tribulations that come along with that.
All in all switching roles in the same company is a journey, you can’t presume it will take place with a flick of a switch. I was willing to take on the responsibilities of multiple roles for a short time in an effort to make the switch as seamless as possible for those involved, especially those that I was managing. It’s a team effort all the way around, and really the only way to successfully transition folks within a company.
5 Tips to Successfully Transition to a New Role
I've found through my experience changing roles, 5 tips that will help it go smoothly and successfully:
- Be considerate – don’t just cut ties with the old job…ease your way out, don’t leave a lot of unfinished work
- Be flexible and willing to do two roles at the same time for a short period as best you can
- Communicate to your new manager early and often throughout the transition
- Find your “go-to” resources for your new job. What tools and people are going to be most helpful to you when learning the new role. These are often the people you’ll be working directly with to achieve your goals and fulfill your responsibilities. Find these people and establish a good rapport - but don’t try too hard
- Establish your reliability – it’s essential that you over-deliver in your first few interactions with your new colleagues. It takes weeks/months/years to build trust, but only a few minutes to lose it. Don’t dig yourself a hole right off the bat.
Good luck and don't be afraid to push yourself or try new things... you might just like it.