While you may dream of landing the perfect job at an organization filled with passionate and intelligent colleagues, many of us forget that excitement about the bigger picture—mission, colleagues, job title—doesn’t always result in satisfaction with our day-to-day.
If you find yourself in love with your team’s mission, but not your work, it may be time to explore other options within your organization. Read on to learn how to determine whether a different team or role within the same organization may be your perfect next step.
Is switching teams the right move?
If your flame has burned out, your first step should be to consider whether the issue is with your organization as a whole, or if it’s just your role within the organization.
Determine what the underlying factors are for your dissatisfaction by writing down what you love about your job as well as the areas of your work that you do not enjoy. Label each one as related to the “sector,” the “organization,” and/or the “specific job.” This will help you parse out the main source of your frustration.
Investigate new opportunities in your organization
If you think your organization is open to employees transitioning teams, start by communicating your curiosity (and your plan, if you have one in mind) to your current manager. Remain transparent about your intentions so that they can continue to support your development (and so they won’t accidentally learn through the grapevine that you’ve been exploring other opportunities).
Next, garner your supervisor’s support and determine the best way to reach out to the heads of other teams and set up meetings. The goal of these meetings is to learn more about what they do and where you may be able to support their work, or organize an opportunity for collaboration.
Pursue the sweet spot of overlap
Now that you’ve learned more about the scope of work of other teams at your organization, spend time researching where you may find the best fit for your skills and interests.
Create a Venn diagram made up of three circles. Your circles should create a triangular shape with a section of overlap in the middle that includes a small part of each of your three circles:
- One circle is “Organizational Need.” What skills, knowledge, or services could benefit your organization?
- The second circle is “My Knowledge and Skills.” What unique skill can you provide?
- The third circle is “My Areas of Interest.” What type of work would have you bounding out of bed each morning, inspired to start your day?
Fill in each circle and consider the sweet spot of overlap between what your organization needs, and your own interests and expertise. When you get to the overlapping section of the diagram, reflect on what the three circles have in common. Are there specific long-term projects, day-to-day tasks, or other responsibilities that might fit your written description? Is there a team whose scope of work aligns with the content of your Venn diagram?
Now that you’ve honed in on your area of interest, start drafting an action plan and jotting down your thoughts in a written reflection. Consider the scope of work and responsibility of your existing role and that of your desired role and team.
Investigate areas where the two teams currently collaborate and any opportunities for future collaboration. At this stage, you may wish to bring your ideas to your manager and get some additional input on your thoughts.
Take initiative by proposing a project that allows you to advance the collective work and mission of both teams. Remember to stay dedicated to your existing work to demonstrate to your current supervisor and potential future boss that you are able to handle multiple projects at once, without abandoning your existing role.
Develop your transferable skillset
Consider the skills, knowledge, and expertise that could further strengthen your candidacy for a job change. Apply for professional development funding, certificate programs, or external courses to grow your expertise in your area of interest. Explore free and low-cost online resources to get started:
- Nonprofit Ready offers online courses on topics such as fundraising, operations, marketing, and leadership.
- Coursera features online courses from some of the world’s best universities.
- The Center for Nonprofit Excellence hosts courses in partnership with United Way.
- Volunteer Match hosts webinars on a range of topics from community engagement to volunteer management.
- In addition to these hard skills, don’t forget to strengthen your soft skills to set yourself apart as a true leader within your organization.
Position yourself strategically before a job becomes available
These suggestions are best explored before a job opening appears on another team within your organization. By strengthening your skills, communicating your interest, and building a reputation as someone who has transferable expertise, you will develop yourself as a strong candidate for a new role.
Have you ever made a lateral move to a new team? How did you make it happen? Share your story in the comments.
About the author: Lauren Slater Siegmund is a facilitator and teacher with expertise in education and affordable housing. Lauren has spent her career bringing people together to create transformational experiences that enable them to double down in their dedication to social justice.