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Advice / Succeeding at Work / Work Relationships

The Insider's Guide to Transitioning to a New Team

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If you're ready for a new challenge, hitting up a job board might be your first instinct. But before you look for a new gig elsewhere, you might want to look within your own company first.

Transitioning to a new team internally can help you learn new skills and give you a fresh challenge at a company you know you like. And since you're a current employee, you already know (and love) your company's culture, mission, and policies.

But transitioning to a new team isn't always seamless. Making the switch effectively takes finesse, strategy, and a lot of communication. To learn more, we caught up with some professionals who've moved to new teams within BlackRock for their insight on how to make your transition a smooth one.

Get the Lay of the Land

After beginning her career at BlackRock six years ago, Stephanie Linker has racked up an impressive list of accomplishments, including launching BlackRock's first mobile app. She loves a challenge. That's why, after spending a few years leading a team responsible for mobile and event technology, she felt she was ready for more responsibility, which would help define the next phase of her career.

Throughout her six years, Stephanie has made every effort to meet as many people on as many different teams as possible. She nurtured those relationships and built not only a group of mentors, but a solid personal brand. And it was her personal brand that helped her case when she was approached for a new job opportunity, one that would give her the increased responsibility she was looking for.

Stephanie stresses that building these trusted relationships means more than just chatting with co-workers. Asking a ton of pointed questions is key, she said. And they've got to be the right ones.

When talking to people on other teams, make a list of questions that will help you determine what the team does, and whether their challenges—and the team itself—is what you're looking for. Start with these:

Don't stop there, though. Do your best to get as much insight as possible.

Make Your Intentions Clear—Carefully

Communication is key when considering an internal move. How you convey the message that you'd like to work on another team can mean the difference between a smooth transition and a messy break-up.

When Madhuri Kommareddi joined BlackRock's corporate strategy team, she made it clear to her peers and superiors that her goal was to eventually move to an operating business unit. But she used her time in the strategy role to soak up as much information as possible.

"Strategy was a great way to meet people across the organization and to understand the different lines of business," she said. "But I always knew it wasn't where I wanted to stay. Because I was very up-front about my desire to move into an operating business, I was able to bring my colleagues along with me on the journey. They were a great sounding board as my thoughts were evolving."

Madhuri was able to be transparent with her colleagues from the start, but not everyone will share her good fortune. In some cases, telegraphing that you're looking for a new team can result in hurt feelings and a loss of trust among your peers and your manager. That's why it's critical that you manage the messaging carefully.

"Don't save these conversations for formal check-ins or performance reviews," said Noreen McEnaney, a talent acquisition director and BlackRock's Global Head of Technology Recruiting. "Make it clear to your manager that you're interested in another team or another challenge. Don't frame the initial conversation as you wanting to leave. Just state that you're interested in learning more. Your boss should help you make a plan to learn more about that aspect of the company."

From there, Noreen said, you can have additional conversations as you learn more, and your interest in moving on will seem much more organic.

Weigh Your Options

When Stephanie was considering taking another role, she had to think carefully about leaving her current position and her team behind. It wasn't an easy decision, especially since the new role BlackRock had in mind for her would take her to the other side of the globe. Her success in building digital products in New York made her a great fit for an open role in Hong Kong, which meant leaving her home, her friends, and her network behind.

Fortunately, Stephanie had the opportunity to spend six months in Hong Kong to get a feel for the role and the new location. You, however, might not get a similar chance to test drive a potential position. Instead, be mindful about weighing the pros and cons of taking on a new gig.

Stephanie recommended asking yourself the following questions:

Ultimately, Stephanie's time in Hong Kong led her to decide that the new position was right for her. In mid-September, she officially moved there to become BlackRock's Head of Digital Marketing for the Asia-Pacific region.

Don't Burn Your Bridges

Landing a new gig isn't the end of the transition process. How you manage your transition with your existing team can have far-reaching effects for your next role—and maybe even the one after that.

When the opportunity arose for Madhuri to become a Vice President in the Global Credit division at BlackRock, she chose her messaging very carefully. Both she and Stephanie stressed the importance of making it clear to your team that your transition is about you gaining new skills and experience, and it's not a reflection on your current team.

"Make sure they know they're still supported, and that you'll help them as much as you can, even in your new role," Stephanie said. "Tell them that you're still their colleague, and you're still with the company. Be really careful not to burn any bridges."

Stephanie also offered one final—and very wise—piece of advice: "You've got to ask for what you want. If you see a place where you can add value, you've got to raise your hand. No one's going to hand you your next opportunity."