Regular Fortune magazine columnist Anne Fisher points out the best way to get what you want in terms of a new position or job responsibility is a tactic known as incremental negotiating. The most common mistake, she points out, is trying to push for everything at once. In answering a reader question about making a career move in a short period after getting hired, she notes that the best approach is to signal a move to a new department or functional group in a series of gradual steps. Drawing on advice from respected negotiation expert Stuart Diamond, she points out why incremental negotiating often achieves better results in a shorter period of time than you would expect from a riskier, all-at-once negotiation tactic.
Sometimes, merely asking about the possibility for a lateral move within your organization could negatively impact your relationship with your boss. You need to put yourself in your boss's shoes and realize that your goal of an immediate transfer may be unrealistic. Focus on small steps, such as cultivating contacts and cross-company exposure. Once you get to know people elsewhere in the company, and figure out what you might be able to contribute, you can ask your boss if you could spend some of your time working on other priorities and responsibilities, as long as they do not interfere with your regular job. You can't always get what you want immediately, but you should be able to plot a course that will get you there eventually. By gradually gaining experience in areas such as finance and strategic planning, you can get closer to your long-term goal without letting down the boss who has hired and supported you.
Success depends to a large degree on how you frame the issue. After all, as long as you're still doing what you're being paid for, most employers have no objection to your taking on extra work elsewhere in the company — especially if you can make the case that what you're learning over there will make you more proficient at your current job. So you might start by getting to know the IT folks and volunteering to join task forces or take on projects others don't have time to tackle. Be ready to explain to your current boss how these extra activities relate to the job you have now. Then, when you see a chance to make your move, you'~ll be even more ready than you already are — and the idea won't come as such a shock to your boss.
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