How Employees Can Make the Most of an Internal Move

Topic(s): development, job performance
Publication: Harvard Business Review
Article: Get ready for your next assignment
Authors: K.S. Milway, A.G. Gregory, J. Davis-Peccoud, K. Yazbak
Reviewed by: Liz Brashier

How do we make the most of an internal move? While most managers and executives know about internal role changes long before that actually take effect, few actually take advantage of their time leading up to the transition to prepare well. According to a recent article in Harvard Business Review (Milway, Gregory, Davis-Peccoud, & Yazbak, 2011), this is a serious missed opportunity. Viewing role transitions as important steps in one’s career is essential to success in the new position – success that could have lasting impact, and building a knowledge base to help in these transitions is imperative. The authors identify three steps for building knowledge capital in order to thrive in new roles: phase zero, learning tour, and affinity groups.


Phase zero: Use this stage as a chance to use your existing position within the organization to learn about the people, challenges, and opportunities associated with your new position. Hallmarks of this stage include under-the-radar conversations, observations, and solitary study of your new environment.
Learning tour: Identify the people that can be most helpful in your new position, and systematically communicate with them. Work to pinpoint problems and possible solutions, ask questions, and incorporate new, diverse perspectives and experiences to help you.
Affinity groups: Intentionally construct a support network to help you gain the diverse perspectives necessary for success in your new position. Avoid sitting back and hoping a network will simply form on it’s on – you may have to directly create one.


Additionally, the authors give us six common mistakes that crop up throughout each of the three steps:

1) Forgetting to identify necessary people to help you reach success
2) Failing to get to the root of the real questions and roadblocks that need to be addressed
3) Dominating conversations
4) Letting initial impressions influence too heavily
5) Relying on the way things used to work – power dynamics may have shifted
6) Keeping the focus too narrow

In sum, these basic steps – phase zero, learning tour, and affinity groups – can help managers effectively prepare for internal promotions, as well as promoting continued learning on the job.


Milway,  K. S., Gregory, A. G., Davis-Peccoud, J., and Yazbak, K. (2011). Get ready for your next assignment. Harvard Business Review, 89, 125-128.

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