Let’s say you’ve received a job offer from your employer to assume a strategic, short-term, role-specific job separate from your current role. Would you accept this type of offer? Is it a good idea?
Such an offer can be a testament to your talents and your employer’s confidence in your ability to guide important projects to successful completion. There are many reasons to consider accepting the new position and approaching it as a trial promotion (whether it is or not); but the opposite may also be true – there are cons to such a deal, and it’s worth giving these factors a sober look.
First, the pros. Most of us work in well-defined and focused roles with little room for flexing personal and professional capabilities we may possess. Time-limited strategic roles are typically outside a professional’s “regular work” and are an opportunity to demonstrate an additional slate of skills, such as project management. They can be a trial by fire that will increase your skills, deepen your professional relationships, and allow you to hone your expertise while giving you an opportunity to take the job out for a spin and see if you like it.
For example, let’s say you’re an accountant and spend most of your time crunching numbers. You’re offered a short-term position leading an asset management team tasked with overseeing the transfer of company property after a sale. You may do a great job and hate it. But you may love it. And now you know.
A time-limited strategic role can often be a high-profile project that features great visibility and involves working with a wide range of internal and external stakeholders. The success of the initiative is paramount and a professional milestone. It’s your time to shine.
The work can be rewarding and illuminating. Many special corporate initiatives are part of a long-term vision for a company undergoing some significant change. You may be at the forefront of a new sales territory, product launch, or implementation of cutting-edge technology. You are the ship’s captain for a day, so to speak, and steering it to a safe harbor (e.g., increasing sales) is a high-level professional achievement.
In some cases, special roles require travel or relocation. Yet again, such an offer is an opportunity to see new places, work with new people, and expand your cultural horizons.
But it’s not always ducks and bunnies. In the spotlight you can shine, but sometimes you crash and burn. If you don’t deliver, the consequences may be just as significant as the rewards.
Also, time-limited, short-term, strategic role, or other duties as assigned – no matter what you call it, it won’t last. Whatever gains and perks you may enjoy along the way will end. If you do an incredible job, you may get an offer for another strategic role, but you may not. It may be a professional stepping stone, or it may not. Three months, six months, a year, or two – your strategic role will end. You risk a game of musical chairs, and there is no telling where you will land when the job ends.
While most time-limited strategic roles go to professionals at the top of their game, in some cases, hopefully, few, there are people at the other end of the spectrum. You may be asked to spearhead a “bridge to nowhere” project to get you out of the way, or, worst case scenario, lay the groundwork for “eliminating your position,” a budgetary trick, so there is no job to return to after your special initiative is over.