Successfully Changing Jobs Internally

Crucial tips for avoiding nasty surprises

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When changing jobs internally, many people fail to prepare adequately for their transition period. Another key consideration is fully understanding the management style of your new boss and the culture of your new organization, which may differ from what you have seen elsewhere in the firm. People who do not do their homework thoroughly on these matters often end up with unpleasant surprises.

Additionally, many of the same considerations hold true for employees who stay in place, but whose job duties change, or when a new supervisor is now in charge of their workgroup.

Changing Job Internally: Managing the Transition

During the transition between two internal jobs, it is possible that you may end up, in effect, doing two jobs for an extended period of time. If you are expected to juggle these dual responsibilities for a time, it is advisable to get both your old and new supervisors in the same room for a meeting in which the exact details of this transition and their respective expectations of you are fully and clearly articulated. Preferably, all these details should be spelled out in writing, in a joint memorandum agreed to by each.

Preparing for Future Contingencies

A related consideration is the possibility that your old department may face some future crisis in which your expertise may be vital. Ground rules should be set between your old and new managers regarding how much of your time the old department can expect in such a situation, and to what extent you can put your new duties on hold.

Understanding Your New Department and Manager

Within firms, especially large firms, different departments may have vastly different rules and internal cultures. Likewise, different managers have varying management styles. Many people making internal moves fail to appreciate this adequately, instead mistakenly assuming that they know their firms well. Before making any internal move, study the new group's culture and get to know the new manager as well as you can before deciding if this move is a good fit for you. Additionally, realize that a reorganization or a change of manager can change dramatically the rules and conditions under which you will work.


Be sure that you stay in contact and maintain good relations with your old colleagues and manager. This is a vital bit of networking. It may be that reaching out for their help may be vital either in the execution of your new duties, or making your next career move. Additionally, it is entirely possible that a future reorganization may result in your working with the same group once again.

Source: "New Job, Same Firm: Learning the Ropes," The Wall Street Journal, 12/1/2009.