How to Switch Teams Successfully and Avoid Common Pitfalls

In an uncertain economy where most people prioritize job security, switching teams might be a valuable option to gain broader experience, enhance your skills, and advance your career. While seeking new opportunities within the same company can be a rewarding experience, it also comes with some unique challenges.

Understanding the Challenges

  • The primary challenge lies in the fact that you remain within the same company. Consequently, as you transition to the new team (and sometimes beyond), you will continue to be approached by members of the old team and the new team and vice versa.
  • You need to overcome your past role and past accomplishments. In the words of Marshall Goldsmith, “What got you here won't get you there."
  • Your transition may affect the dynamics and performance of both your current and new team.
  • Every team, even within the same company, may have unique communication styles, work dynamics, and ceremonies.

Strategies for a Smooth Transition

  • Prioritize Your Current Duties: While excited about the new role, ensure you fulfill your responsibilities to your current team. Communicate any potential delays or overlaps as early as possible.
  • Prepare Handover: Document your current projects and responsibilities. Create a detailed handover plan, ensuring a smooth transition of knowledge and responsibilities.
  • Establish Clear Expectations: Communicate openly with both your current and new team about your expectations and the transition process. Clearly define your priorities and avoid making unrealistic promises.
  • Network with the New Team Early: Connect with your new team members before the official start date of your new role. Learn about their backgrounds, interests, and goals. Ask them about their current projects, challenges, and expectations. Share your own story, skills, and ideas.
  • Embrace the Change: Be flexible and adaptable to the new environment and challenges. Don't expect immediate success. Be patient with yourself and the process. Be curious and eager to learn new things and take on new responsibilities. Be proactive and contribute to the team’s vision and mission.

Switching teams within the same company can be a smart move for software engineers in a changing economy. It can help you grow your career, expand your network, and diversify your skillset. I found it beneficial every time I made the switch. However, it also requires careful planning, preparation, and execution. By following these strategies, you can make your transition smoother and more successful. Good luck!

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Stefan Buck
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Stefan Buck is Software Engineer since 2006. In 2013, he created OctoLinker, a browser extension for GitHub trusted and used by over 30,000 developers. Since then, constantly striving to enhance the developer experience with tools such as Pull Request Badge, Jumpcat, and more recently Tentacle,