Organizations are constantly shifting and evolving to respond better to an ever-changing environment. New market trends, technological changes, expansions to target a broader customer base, initiatives to better adapt to customer needs, mergers & acquisitions are common reasons organizations often review their current strategic goals and change their structure. 

These structural changes include shifts in the management hierarchy, team organization, the responsibilities attributed to different departments, the chain of command, job structure, and administrative procedures. As a result, jobs shift in scope, and most of the time, the responsibilities grow without changing the job title.

Paul was a very successful Pharma executive who demonstrated an ability to achieve results in an ever-complex market and regulatory global environment. Because of his track record of success, he got additional responsibilities, including an increase in 20% of his operating budget globally. Even when his job title didn’t change, he now had more visibility, impact, and scrutiny from the CEO, who trusted him with a new set of challenges. 

Paul had mixed emotions about the additional responsibilities. On the one hand, he felt good about the organization entrusting him. On the other, he was worried about his increased workload. He was now spread even thinner in a global role requiring him to travel >60 % of the time. To be successful, he needed to craft a strategy on how to approach the new challenges. 

You might be a leader facing a change in job role – 

According to Michael D Watkins, a hidden transition happens when there are significant shifts in a leader’s roles and responsibilities without a change in job title.

Like in the case of Paul, what happens when you realize your role scope is significantly changing? This article suggests seven strategies to navigate these shifts successfully.


Take the time to understand how your role is shifting and the rationale for the change. Mapping your new responsibilities will give you a visual of what is different and how to approach these changes proactively. For example, do you need to automate or delegate more? Knowing this information gives you a clearer picture of the situation and helps you plan your next move accordingly. If you need clarification about the role change or the reason, you can get more clarity by discussing it with your manager.

Paul sat with his manager to understand the strategy and his role in the big picture. He connected the dots between his role and the organizational impact. With a better understanding, he was better equipped to assess how to tackle the significant challenges. 


Preparing for the change involves realizing that there will be some areas of your job that are disappearing or shifting. To embrace the new, you must leave the old, mentally breaking from the past. 

As you adapt to your new role, set realistic expectations and give yourself time to adjust. Doing this can help you relieve stress and improve your performance levels. Start with simple and attainable goals to build momentum for any challenges ahead. You can then adjust your time frame to meet more challenging expectations as you proceed.

Paul realized that now he was managing several functions instead of one. With an expanded scope, he shifted his mindset to one of an enterprise leader. 


More work scope means having enough capacity to assume more responsibilities. Decide what you must stop or delegate to make space for the new. 

A job redesign might involve additional capabilities requiring new skills, such as increased automation. Take the time to learn the new requirements and role expectations and identify the areas where you need to boost your knowledge and skills. Be honest with yourself about your skill gaps so you can take proactive actions to plot a learning plan to level up your skills. 

 Paul became aware of the macro trends impacting requiring new product modalities and how AI shifted his industry. 


Once you have assessed your capabilities against the new responsibilities, it’s time to implement a learning plan—partner with your organization’s learning resources to implement formal or on-the-job training. 

Paul identified three skills he needed to strengthen to be successful as an executive and plotted a plan for how to up skill.


Adopt a system thinking approach by going to the balcony to look at the big picture and assess how the change in role impacts the entire ecosystem where you function, both externally and internally.

Since his organization was taking a radical market position, Paul identified how this new strategy impacted his goals. He created compelling messages to cascade to his organization. 


Changes in role scopes have a ripple effect on the organization. Your team also needs to realign to the new requirements. It is time to assess your team’s capabilities, ensuring you have the right people in the right seats, even when it’s tough to let people go or transfer them out. Take inventory to address gaps and implement a learning plan to close skills and experience gaps.  

Paul conducted a needs assessment to identify skills and experience gaps and make educated team decisions. 


As you navigate the changes in role scope, consider building supportive internal and external alliances with mentors and advisors. Connecting with peers going through similar career shifts can help reduce tension and create a positive atmosphere. You can rely on each other for support and brainstorm ideas on how best to adapt. As you go through this phase together, you can also improve your interpersonal and team-building skills.

Paul created a stakeholder map to document his crucial expectations and managed those interactions to obtain valuable and timely feedback. 

Companies have found creative ways to remain relevant in constantly shifting market environments. Due to changing landscapes both inside and outside organizations, job roles continuously change. If you are facing a pertinent change in job scope, consider a well-thought-out approach to managing this hidden transition so you can succeed in your newly expanded scope. 

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