Are you in a strategic business role in tech, with a few years of experience under your belt? As you progress through your career, you may start to wonder about new opportunities within your organization. If you find yourself contemplating an internal pivot - say from BizOps to Chief of Staff, or Customer Success to BizOps or Sales to Product, you're not alone. Members of The Commons are constantly evolving in their careers and leveraging new skills and exposure to tap into exciting opportunities.Today, we're diving into how to determine if you're ready for a change and providing practical advice on how to initiate that important conversation with your manager.
1. Self-Assessment: Evaluating Your Readiness
Before embarking on an internal pivot, it's crucial to evaluate your readiness for a new role. Here are a few key indicators that can help you determine if it's the right time to explore a new role:
- Curiosity and Passion: Are you genuinely interested in a new role all together, or are you just looking for a new challenge within your existing role? Passion fuels motivation, making it easier to overcome challenges and grow in your career. There's nothing worse than diving into something to quickly realize it isn't right - so understanding your motivation is key.
- Skill Set Alignment: Do you possess the essential skills and knowledge required for the new role? Identify the key competencies and consider if your current expertise aligns with the expectations of the desired position. If not - no sweat, it's not game over. Part of your plan could be to build your skillset over the next little while, before officially diving into the new role. You can do this by taking on a new project in your current role that enables you to gain exposure and tap into that skillset. If that opportunity isn't available, consider gaining exposure through mentorship or by diving into a hands-on learning program (like The Commons!).
- Learning Mindset: Are you open to continuous learning and adapting to new environments? Pivoting to a different strategic role often involves acquiring new skills and gaining fresh perspectives. It isn't always smooth sailing, so you'll need to be energized by the challenge.
- Growth Opportunities: Does the potential role offer growth opportunities that align with your long-term career goals? Consider if the role can broaden your skill set, expand your network, or provide exposure to new challenges.
2. Research and Networking: Gathering Insights
Another key element is understanding what specific role is right for you. To do that, it's essential to gather insights to understand what's possible, and the specific opportunities and expectations within each role. Consider the following suggestions:
- Internal Exploration: Engage with professionals already in the roles you're considering. Conduct informational interviews, seek mentorship, and learn about their experiences, responsibilities, and career trajectory. Note that if you're planning to do this within your org, you'll need to be thoughtful about your approach and when it makes sense to loop in your manager. More on this below!
- External Perspectives: Leverage professional networks and industry events to connect with individuals outside your organization who work in similar roles. Gain insights into the broader industry landscape and understand how your skills can translate across different roles - and even different organizations.
- Skill Gap Analysis: Identify any gaps in your skills or knowledge and create a plan to bridge them. Seek training opportunities, build your network, or take on side projects that can enhance your exposure and skillset.
3. Initiating the Conversation: Communicating with Your Manager
Having prepared yourself, it's time to start the conversation with your manager about your aspirations. Here are a few tips to make the discussion productive:
Schedule a Meeting: Request a dedicated meeting with your manager to discuss your career development. Be clear about the purpose of the meeting to set expectations.
Choose an Approach: You have the opportunity to approach the conversation from a variety of different angles. We've outlined a few examples below ...
- Expressing Interest: Be clear on what you're looking for. "I wanted to discuss my long-term career goals and express my interest in exploring new opportunities within the organization."
- Discussing Motivation: Then, highlight your why. Being transparent with your manager on your growth goals may help you uncover new opportunities that you haven't even thought of. Ultimately, you want your manager to help champion this shift, so being transparent is (usually) helpful. Worth caveating that you'll need to adjust your approach depending on your relationship with your manager, and their overall style. "I'm genuinely passionate about [specific role] and believe it will allow me to leverage my strengths while contributing to the company's goals. It aligns with my long-term career trajectory and personal growth aspirations."
- Highlighting Alignment: Explain your rationale for the path you're excited about - this will help give them context. "I've been reflecting on my skills and interests, and I believe there are strategic roles within our company, such as [specific role], that align well with my expertise and aspirations."
- Sharing Research: Anchor the above in specifics. "I've done some research on the [specific role] position and spoke with professionals who currently hold similar roles. It seems like an exciting area where I can contribute and continue to grow."
- Exploring Benefits: Highlight the benefits of your desired pivot for both you and the organization. Emphasize how your skills can be leveraged in the new role to drive positive outcomes, and give them comfort that you'll be helpful in backfilling your current role. "I believe that a transition to [specific role] can bring value to the company by [mention specific ways your skills and experience can benefit the new role and the organization]."
- Seeking Guidance: Request your manager's advice and input on the best way to navigate the internal pivot. Their perspective and guidance can help you chart a successful course. "I value your expertise and guidance. I wanted to get your insights on the possibility of exploring this new opportunity and how we can work together to make it a reality."
- Requesting Support: Remember, this conversation is an opportunity to showcase your ambition, commitment, and growth mindset. Even if an immediate pivot isn't feasible, the discussion can lay the foundation for future opportunities and development. "If a direct transition isn't feasible at the moment, I would appreciate your guidance on potential steps I can take to gradually transition into this new role or any opportunities for cross-functional collaboration."
As you progress through your career - especially in an industry as rapidly evolving as tech - the desire to explore new challenges and roles is natural. By conducting a thorough self-assessment, gathering insights, and initiating an open conversation with your manager, you can pave the way for an internal pivot that aligns with your aspirations and goals. Remember, career growth is a journey, and each step you take towards exploring new opportunities brings you closer to reaching your full potential.
So, take the leap, have that conversation, and embrace the possibilities that lie ahead. Your strategic business acumen combined with a proactive approach can unlock exciting avenues within your organization.