Prep Work Is the Key

Rotated workers at FedEx acknowledge that job swapping isnt easy. Its difficult to manage a group you dont know anything about, and to leave a group that you really do know and make sure that nothing falls off the rails, says Terry Pavey, director of IT at FedEx Express in Canada, who switched jobs with Beth Galetti, an IT director in Colorado Springs. He adds that his biggest concern was making sure his customers werent negatively affected by the rotation.

Pavey says detailed preparation helped minimize the risks involved in switching jobs. He and Galetti agreed in advance that for their six-month rotation, they would both have two jobs, keeping responsibilities for their original positions as well as taking on the duties of the new one. They also agreed that they owned each others projects but that the original leader would handle personnel issues. That helped us make sure nothing fell off, Pavey says, and it also helped ease employee concerns about the switch.

Such pre-rotation collaboration is part of what makes the program work, Aaholm notes. We ask the swapped employees to work together to lay out how to transition the work, and we feel it is best to let that happen at the employee level. It creates a partnership between both individuals to ensure success, she explains.

Geographical issues also present challenges, since the rotated employees must decide whether to temporarily uproot their families or make trips back home (at the companys expense). Rotated workers have done both, depending on their own families needs.

Veterans say they were also concerned about how to make the most of their six-month rotations. You have to recognize you cant do everything; you cant get all the knowledge that someone in the job for years had, Galetti says. We had to be very focused about what each of us was trying to accomplish.

For example, she says she recognized that she couldnt successfully jump into certain ongoing projects in Paveys operation, such as a continuing effort to improve the FedEx legacy systems, so she had to leave those initiatives alone. But she knew she wanted to get experience running an end-to-end IT operation, something that Paveys job entailed.

Galetti made sure she got that kind of experience. And that, in turn, moved her career ahead: After her rotation, Galetti was promoted to vice president of IT for Canada, Latin America and the Caribbean. Shes now vice president of IT for Europe and Africa at FedEx Express.

Copyright © 2007 IDG Communications, Inc.

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