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Sideways moves, secondments , and project opportunities. Olivia Kew-Fickus, Assistant Registrar Helen Webb, HR Executive Officer Birmingham Professional Conference, 29 March 2012. What is the problem?. “If you aren’t moving up you aren’t progressing your career” But…

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Sideways moves secondments and project opportunities

Sideways moves, secondments, and project opportunities

Olivia Kew-Fickus, Assistant Registrar

Helen Webb, HR Executive Officer

Birmingham Professional Conference, 29 March 2012

What is the problem
What is the problem?

  • “If you aren’t moving up you aren’t progressing your career”

  • But…

    • Your current job doesn’t let you develop the skills to move up

    • There are no obvious progression opportunities or they are in big steps (e.g., B500→G7)

    • There are not many opportunities in your area

    • You’ve tried and not been successful

    • You don’t want progression but variety

    • Your ambitions are different than your experience

    • You want to “test-drive”

What is the solution
What is the solution?

  • It’s not always about progression

  • Taking a round-about route, seizing opportunities, making opportunities

  • Some definitions

    • Sideways moves

    • Secondments and temporary roles (e.g., maternity covers)

    • Project opportunities

    • Wearing two hats

    • Acting up

What are the benefits
What are the benefits?

  • New skills

  • New perspective and experience (Corp Svcs – College, new school, etc.)

  • New challenges

  • Safety-net to return to old role

  • Variety and diversity

  • Gain experience and enrich your CV

  • Prepare for future progression

  • Networking, profile, and reputation

What are the drawbacks
What are the drawbacks?

  • Leaving comfort zone – space, people, tasks, expertise

  • Additional work – especially for projects / dual roles

  • Putting yourself out there – interviewing, stress, possibility of rejection

  • Identity issues – Who am I now? Where do I belong?

  • Going back to old role

  • There may be times when it’s not right for you.

How do i find opportunities
How do I find opportunities?

  • Let people know you are interested, especially your line manager and senior managers in your area

  • Look on the website – secondments are advertised as internal posts

  • Think proactively

    • Someone is leaving; could you cover it?

    • Can you volunteer to do a project which could be done in your area?

Questions to ask
Questions to ask

  • What are my values?

  • What interests and inspires me?

  • Am I running away from my current job?

  • Am I just trying to impress?

  • What new skills could I learn? HR/Finance? What does it add to my portfolio?

  • What are my personal plans and work-life issues?

  • What are the expectations of the new role? Meet the manager, other colleagues if possible

  • How can I balance this with my existing role?

  • You can say NO if it’s not right for you!

Practical considerations
Practical considerations

  • Be absolutely transparent with your current manager…

  • When will it start?

  • Will I be paid extra? If so, how – pensionable, non-pensionable honoraria?

  • Different terms and conditions?

  • Implications for leave arrangements, etc.

  • When will it end?

  • Get everything in writing

  • How will it be communicated?

Before you start
Before you start

  • Meet the postholder if possible

  • Read and research the area – learn the vocabulary and grammar

  • Understand team structures

  • … and the dynamics

  • Plan an induction

  • Secure senior level support / mentoring

  • Research policies and procedures

Once in the role
Once in the role

  • Communicate, communicate, communicate

    • Trust and relationships

  • Understanding your role and gaining credibility

    • Fresh pair of eyes

    • Objective setting

    • Securing quick wins and celebrate success (pass on credit but take blame – don’t blame predecessor)

  • Business as usual or change?

    • Sustainability of any changes you make

  • Learn to say no and avoid over-commitment

  • Stay in touch with “home” role

Finishing in post
Finishing in post

  • Handovers

  • Is there such as “going back to normal”?

  • Building into career development plans and CPD

  • Recall versus Critical Reflection

    • Discussions with senior managers/mentors

    • 360 degree feedback

    • How, why, what would you do differently?


  • Look before you leap!

  • Don’t be afraid to drive a deal and set expectations

  • Research the role and area

  • Know the role’s limits and possibilities

  • Reflect and learn


  • Olivia Kew-Fickus

  • Helen Webb

  • Bal Bansal

  • Mary Li

Individual discussions