When a Lateral Career Move is Right

A couple months ago I was happy with my job as Senior Business Analyst. I reported directly to a Senior Leader and fulfilled any data request she had for my department. I felt competent, I received a glowing annual review, no stress, good relationships, etc.… nothing to complain about. Then one day sitting at my desk reflecting on the past and looking forward to the future of my career I began wondering if I was too comfortable. In my opinion, being comfortable is a scary thing, it signals no progress no growth. I hold the old saying of “no pain no gain” as a truth.  I was truly asking myself if I was comfortable just coasting, not learning or being challenged?

My boss routinely asked if she or the work was challenging me enough. I’d say yes, thinking to myself sheeeddddddd I am enjoying the comfort of the position, I need this break. My previous role in Cincinnati was a manager role with high stress, I needed the break of only being responsible for myself. But something was telling me enough and it was time to start thinking about my future goals and target positions again.

I don’t always act right away. I’m like most people, I procrastinate but with this new found motivation I started right away and did… nothing lol. But God was in on the convo about my career, I prayed and affirmed God would let me know if I was headed down the right path. A week later I got a call from a recruiter about a lateral position with a new larger hospital in a different department.

For some with my experience, a seasoned young professional a lateral move at that point may have not been appealing. But for me I saw the lateral move as an opportunity to grow, challenge myself, expand my network, and prepare me for my dream job in healthcare. A lateral move may not always be the best move but for the circumstances I just described I thought it was the perfect move. I accepted and decided the lateral move was right for me for two major reasons.

  1. The major reason, an opportunity for a new skillset: I have an accounting degree but most of my career had been spent in healthcare specializing in revenue cycle. Revenue cycle never really required me to use my accounting background. So I was always curious about the accounting and finance side of the healthcare. The new role put me exactly in that world and as a bonus my bosses need someone with my background and perspective for upcoming projects so it allowed me to use some my revenue cycle background and at the same time apply my accounting education and learn new skillsets like managing a bottom-line from an accounting perspective. It was the perfect scenario not starting from zero and being able to bring something to the table right away but also with the appropriate expectations from my bosses that I would need a learning curve.

  2. The final reason, I needed a new challenge. Now that I look back, the convo with myself that day I described early was the beginning of my boredom setting in. For me boredom = unhappy. And it was only a matter of time before I became unhappy with the position. I had several skills I was very proud of that began to diminish just because I wasn’t using them. I had to ask myself if sacrificing these skills was worth the comfort. The answer was no.  But this new challenge would keep me sharp, engaged, and striving to become the best healthcare professional.

Both of these factors come down to me wanting to be the best when I do make the leap into leadership. My previous roles have allowed me to examine leaders closely. I’ve seen bad and great leaders, there are many different qualities with great leaders. There is no for sure combination of skills you absolutely need to be a great leader. But one common thread I’ve seen amongst bad leaders is being in over their head. And its almost always due to lack of skill and experience. I’m betting a new challenge and skillset  will help me avoid that bad quality and round me into an excellent finance leader who understands operations, finance, and revenue cycle.

If this post interest you and would like to go into further detail about vetting a lateral move checkout The Talented 6’s Career Course. Over the next month we will be addressing other career issues we have faced crossing over multiple disciplines if it’s any topic you would like to see us cover, comment below!