Workforce.com

Dear Workforce Should I Reassign Instead of Fire

If it's an attitude problem, the transfer will only perpetuate (and may spread) the problem.

September 7, 2011
QDearWorkforce: 

We are asmall company in the beginning stages of restructuring our organization toprepare for growth. Part of this restructuring involves replacing a senior salesemployee with another more highly qualified individual.

Theemployee had been hired in as a senior sales person, but has not performedaccording to corporate expectations over the last eight months. Thedecision was made to fire, but rather than firing this employee forpoor performance in his present position, I would rather reassign him intoa lesser role...providing he is willing to accept the new job with alower salary. What is my best course of action? Being demoted isde-motivating enough, but how can I contain any further damage and worktoward improving this salesperson’s performance level?

--T.V. 

ADear T.V.: 

    It isadmirable that you want to avoid firing your long-term employee, but let's lookcarefully at this situation.

 

    What is thereason for poor performance in the present position? If it's because ofinadequate management,you have other problems to address. If it's because of a lack ofexpertise or capacity, moving the worker to another job could be a good solution....IF the worker can handle the responsibilities that come withthe new role.

 

    If it's anattitude problem, the transfer will only perpetuate (and may spread) theproblem. 

   Instead of reassigning the worker to a lesser role, how about a transfer to adifferent role? What are your needs, and what are the worker's talents? How doesthe worker feel? He/she may feel overwhelmed and trapped in the current positionand may welcome the opportunity to shift roles. This may not be as de-motivatingas you think! 

   Honor the expertise, ability, and success that the employee brings to your salesteam. Explore--with the employee--what kind of role will be best for theemployee, the company, the team, and the customers. There may be a whole newopportunity here for all of you. If you can find the right fit, then you candesign a compensation program enabling the employee to achieve as desired. Ifyou don't have a proper fit, say good-bye. 

 

SOURCE:Roger Herman, CEO of the Herman Group and author of "KeepingGood People," "Lean& Meaningful," and "Howto Become an Employer of Choice." 

E-mailyour Dear Workforce questions toOnline Editor Todd Raphael at raphaelt@workforceonline.com,along with your name, title, organization and location. Unless you stateotherwise, your identifying information  maybe used on Workforce.com and in Workforcemagazine. We can’t guarantee we’ll be able to answer every question.