Great Worker! Wrong Job?

Great Worker! Wrong Job?

Employee retention and internal promotions are good, right? The cost of finding, hiring, and training a new hire is reduced, while the potential for existing staff to grow within the organization is greater. Sounds like a perfect plan for succession and progress!

Unfortunately this is not the reality for every employee at all companies.  Promoting a great worker without a discussion with them about the pro’s and con’s of the move will prove disastrous.

Such is the case when, for example, an employee with strong skills and a great work ethics is promoted to a position for which they are not well suited. Their prior experience and talents in, say, accounting, would not benefit them if promoted to a role with less accounting and more sales. You can see how this promotion is, well, not really a promotion at all but rather a misapplication of a good employee.

A great worker in the wrong job can be frustrating for everyone. The employee will start to feel discouraged, the employer will become impatient, and the unanticipated outcome of a well-intentioned promotion could be termination. If that happens, you’ve lost a great employee and have nothing to show for it!

Here’s how to avoid having this situation in your company:

Go slow

Making the wrong decision about a promotion can negatively impact employee productivity, client satisfaction, and company revenues. Certainly you want to fill an opening as soon as you have a new hire in mind, however by moving too quickly you may find that you will have to start the process all over again. The following action steps can save you time and money:  

  • Make certain that you have a clear, accurate job profile that provides all of the important details about the open position;
  • Post the job profile internally;
  • Prepare ahead for your interviews and, if appropriate, have other several people in the company conduct interviews as well;
  • Consider using an employee-screening tool to aid in the process;
  • While you have “a candidate” in mind, look outside the company; this will provide alternatives to the “internal candidate”.
  • Being proactive now will avoid having to repeat the steps above.

The more time you take and the more you deliberate about your prospective candidates, the more confidant you can feel about your decision.

Provide Training

Recently promoted employees who do not demonstrate key skills for their new role must be evaluated as to whether their deficiency is in “aptitude” or “attitude.” If the performance gap is because of aptitude, consider providing the employee with additional training in order to bring their skills up to speed. If they are willing and eager to learn, you will likely have a thoroughly capable employee ready to take on their new responsibilities. If the issue has to do with attitude, whereby the good employee just doesn’t want to do this type of work, you must find them a position in which they have an interest or they will have to be let go. Refer to the above example of an accountant being thrown into a sales role. Training is a must or else…

Consider Cross-training

Besides offering skills training to the newly promoted individual, you may wish to consider a cross-training program. Cross-training your existing staff will reveal those that exhibit the right balance of aptitude and attitude for a new position; conversely, it will also expose those employees that are absolutely wrong for the job. Cross-training can save you time and money and provide the peace of mind that comes from knowing your employees can assume responsibilities of another position if and when the need arises.

Employee advancement as well as recruitment and hiring have meaningful corollaries in other elements of your business. It is critical that you make sound, informed decisions, and move slowly and strategically so that a promotion does not become a disaster.  Communication with the Great Worker is important to both of you for success.


For further discussion or comments, please contact Gail L. Trugman Nikol, President Unique Business Solutions, gail@ubsassociates.com or call (516) 935-5641.

By admin October 9, 2018