Keeping a good employee in the wrong position can damage their professional growth and the business’s success. Individuals enter unsuitable roles for various reasons: not doing enough research about the organization, inconsistent expectations about the job, a need for stable employment, poor talent management processes or a mismatched workplace culture.
Often, it becomes apparent that these employees must transition to a new role in the company or with another employer. When this time comes, ensuring a cordial and smooth transition is crucial for everyone.
A business owner or manager may come to realize that an employee isn’t well suited to their role. However, good leaders don’t automatically write off their team members – especially if they’re talented and can contribute to the organization in other capacities.
“Employers can facilitate the natural progression and movement of talented individuals by opening up channels to facilitate the redeployment of staff, offering easy access to open internal positions and opportunities for career mobility within their organization,” advised Phyllis Millikan, former SVP for career management at Right Management.
Consider the following strategies to transition an employee to a new and more suitable role in the company.
Communicating with employees openly and respectfully helps them feel some control over the situation, not like something is being done to them. “Let them know your goal is to help them develop to their most full potential and capacity, and mean it,” said Angie Nuttle, CEO of talent and organizational development consulting firm Corporate Talent Institute.
Consider the following when communicating with the employee:
If management and the employee agree they want to explore other roles in the company, they can move forward as a team with a shared goal and improved morale all around.
“If the change is done well, it will nearly always result in improved morale and productivity – not just for that employee, but often for anyone else whose work was impacted by that employee’s responsibilities,” said Christian Muntean, principal at Vantage Consulting.
Jennifer Martin, the principal small business coach at Zest Business Consulting, advises employers to determine if the team member has job skills or talents underutilized in their current position. Don’t just ask them what they’d rather be doing. Instead, ask them if the company is getting their best work. If not, brainstorm how they could put their skills to better use.
Nuttle suggests giving the employee professional feedback on what they’re doing well and finding ways to maximize those qualities and achievements.
When everyone is on the same page about finding a better fit for the employee, it’s time to create a job transition plan that includes the following:
Be thoughtful and careful when announcing the employee is leaving their previous department. Share any new workflow protocols and whether you’re seeking a replacement to reassure the remaining team’s workload concerns.
Sometimes, an employee is the first to recognize that they’re unhappy in their current role and may do better elsewhere. Here’s what they can do to start the process and assimilate successfully into a new role:
Letting an employee go is a difficult decision. Firing an employee for clear infractions can be cut and dried, but usually, saying goodbye is more nuanced. In many cases, business owners and managers want to transition employees to a new company cordially and smoothly, with no hard feelings. Here are some tips and strategies for doing just that:
Outplacement is when an organization provides career transition support to an employee exiting the business because of layoffs, other downsizing measures or when the job isn’t working out. This process aims to preserve the relationship between the employee and the business.
“Career transition services are invaluable for individuals looking to transition to a new organization,” Zucker noted. Job searching is a lonely experience, so having a partner who provides both tactical and emotional coaching during your search is invaluable.
Transition services and consultants offer support and help manage your hopes and expectations. “It’s like having a trainer at the gym,” said Zucker. “Career transition services will help you accomplish more than you would all on your own.”
Businesses offer varying types of transition support. For example, some enact a tight-knit, visible alumni network that provides avenues for the organization to stay in contact with former employees and for current and former employees to keep in touch with each other. This network approach builds goodwill that will help ensure your former employees speak highly of your employee support and company culture.
“Always think of your employees as future customers or clients,” Zucker advised. While this sounds transactional, it just means the employee experience doesn’t end when they leave your company. Preserving relationships with departing employees ensures they’ll speak highly of your organization. You never know when your paths will cross again professionally, so maintaining respect and cordiality benefits everyone.
For example, if an employee leaves your company to start a new business, they might want to refer to or hire your organization in the future. If the parting relationship is positive, the chance of an ongoing and mutually beneficial relationship is much higher.
Your departing team members can share valuable insights you can use to improve the business. For example, when conducting an exit interview, you can learn about the former employee’s experiences, invite their feedback and implement changes that may help future employee retention.
This opportunity for honest feedback allows departing employees to feel heard and valued, helping everyone move on with positive feelings.
Employee transitions demonstrate that you care about your employees’ success – even if they no longer work for your business. “A successful employee transition will aim to preserve relationships on all sides,” Zucker explained.
Whether you’re an employee seeking a change or a manager helping a team member transition, keeping lines of communication open benefits everyone. If you successfully transition a team member to a new role or department, you salvage their skills and talents and boost productivity and morale all around. “Helping people develop skills, gain experience and manage their careers is vital to keep them engaged and productive,” Millikan said.
Discovering that someone is in the wrong role doesn’t necessarily mean they’re in the wrong business. Taking the time to evaluate your team’s strengths and match them to the right position can help you correct course and retain valuable talent.
Regardless of whether you’re transitioning an employee into a new role within your company or at a completely different company, providing support throughout the process will benefit both parties. Preserving relationships and assisting current and former team members with career guidance shows that you value people – and that’s just good business.
Sammi Caramela contributed to this article. Source interviews were conducted for a previous version of this article.