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Right Employee, Wrong Position


It could be that a once solid performer just doesn’t seem as motivated and productive as before. Or maybe you hired someone who seemed like the best fit for the role, but as the new employee settles in and weeks go by, you begin to realize they’re not performing as well as you had anticipated.

Should you fire them?

Before you write them off, consider another role that they may be better suited at in the company. After all the qualities that made them a good candidate are probably still present. If the employee has been there for a long time, consider what has changed that has caused them to underperform.

There are a few tell-tale signs of a poor job fit including: the employee is under-utilized, the employee is bored and disengaged with their work, and the employee does not possess all the necessary specialized skills for the job. Surprisingly, a survey by Right Management found that one person in five is in the wrong role! Poor job fit will not only lead to a lack of job motivation and engagement, but performance will also be decreased. Moreover, people who are in the wrong role or have a lack of engagement with their job are more likely to vote with their feet and leave.

Common reasons for a lack of job fit include:

  • The current position is just not a role that they can excel in. In other words, the employee’s skills are not properly matched for this job.
  • The job requires a little more experience, more specialized skills, etc than you initially thought was necessary.
  • The role is not properly structured (this may be especially true if it is a new position that was just created in the company).

Next steps:

1) Identify the root problem

Have a candid talk with the employee to get a better understanding of their motivations.

Some questions to ask include:

  • Do you feel like you are able to do your best work in this role?
  • Are there certain road blocks that are hindering your work? What can I do to help remove them?
  • Is the company getting your best work? How do you think we can put your skills to best use?
  • What do you expect from this position in the business?
  • How do you want to learn and develop? What do you expect of me (as your manager)?

2) Create a career developmental strategy

Sometimes there is a position that an employee may shift into; however, shifting an employee is not always an option. But it is possible to (i) train employees in skill sets that may be lacking in their current repertoire and (ii) motivate employees by providing developmental opportunities.

Remember that opportunities to progress is a big driver in employee engagement and retention. According to LinkedIn’s 2018 Workforce Learning Report, a whopping 93% of employees would stay at a company longer if it invested in their careers! Career development strategies are vital to engage and motivate your current talent, fill talent pipelines with the right people, and match employees to existing and future positions in the company.

“We spend too much time recruiting and not enough time working with the players we have.” – Alex Agase

3) Follow-up with the employee

Conversations discussing possible roles, responsibilities, or career or skill development, are never “one and done”. To be effective, managers need to have a series of discussions directed at finding the right solution for both the employee and the organization.

What are your thoughts? Do you know someone that may be in the wrong role? What did you do?

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