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A lot of companies would like to think they’ve got a good grasp of hiring the right person for their roles, and promoting people that are going to deliver results. But Write Management reports that 1 in 5 workers are in the wrong role. A wrong fit hurts everyone involved. The employee’s career stalls out as they’re unmotivated and disengaged which leads to poor performance. If the person is in a leadership role, it can bring many of your higher performers down as well. If you were to place a dollar amount on the lower performance across all individuals and teams impacted, it would shock you. 

Wrong role matchups can happen for many reasons. Here are just a few:

  • Applicants don’t know enough about the job requirements when they accept the offer. 
  • The hiring manager doesn’t know enough about the candidate when they make the offer. 
  • Changing job requirements within the role can turn a right fit into the wrong one. 
  • People make hasty decisions out of desperation to hire or to be hired. 

The biggest reason a role doesn’t work out has nothing to do with a lack of ability. It’s because the role is not aligned with who the person is. The role needs to compliment the person’s identity- including strengths, interests, values, and personality. 


Signs Someone Is in the Wrong Seat

Many signs that someone is a wrong fit might be glaringly obvious, but some can be subtle and may begin with an unexplained queasy gut. To figure out what your gut could be telling you, pay attention to the ways an employee engages with others. 

Does the person willingly share feedback or do they seem to be lacking in confidence? When they do share their perspective is it valuable, or does their input seem to come from left field, exemplifying a lack of understanding? Do team members working with, or for, this individual give them a cool reception? Do you see frustration emitting from the employee or the team? 

How does the employee take direction and feedback? Do you see gradual improvement happening? Or does the person seem to exhibit a lack of mastery as time unfolds?

The best way to address a wrong fit is to prevent situations like this from happening in the first place. But if you suspect the damage is already done, you’ll need another plan of action. 


The Wrong Fit, Now What 

A smooth and cordial role change for the employee, whether internally or to another company, benefits both the employee and the company. Do what you can to preserve the relationship as if the employee were a future customer or client. 

Cultivate Internal Networking

One proactive approach would be to provide a networking environment within your organization where employees in other departments regularly have the opportunity to learn about one another’s talents. It can be scary to nurture internal movement, but in the competition for talent, doing so breathes life into your workforce. Moreover, internal movement allows employees to self-correct any misguided hiring decisions on their own initiative while preserving morale. When employees have the chance to understand other departments, they can see how their talents might provide more value in a different department.


Communicate Your Commitment

Whether you intend to transition the employee into another department within the company or move them out of the company, termed “outplacement,” it’s important to let the employee know that you’re invested in helping them to develop their full potential. A regular reference to this commitment as part of your people-centered company culture might lessen the impact when it’s applied to their role transitions. Additionally, regularly demonstrate your commitment to your employees’ career growth and development. Build out support avenues for their full potential to flourish. Examples include mentoring programs, training programs, a leadership academy, and new leader assimilation processes. When employees understand and truly feel like you’re in their corner, they’re more likely to accept your decisions with goodwill. 


Support the Transition 

If you’re transitioning an employee to another department in the company, be prepared to provide them the same level of onboarding support as you provided for the role vacated. Even though they’re not leaving the company, the new department comes with its own subculture, goals, and priorities. The processes for getting work done may differ entirely from the employee’s previous role. It’s also important to stay in contact with the employee after the change is made, checking in to gauge satisfaction and discover any needs that can be met will help the employee dig into their new role.  

If you’re transitioning the employee outside of the company, consider offering transitional support to the displaced employee that they can use to find their next opportunity. Support like this often comes in the form of a sustained professional network and continued contact with the departing employee. This approach enhances the likelihood that the departing employee will speak well of the organization in the future. It also opens the door for a more valuable relationship to develop which could pay unknown dividends in the future. 


When you discover that someone is in the wrong seat, the quicker you can correct the situation, the better. Use these tips to find a solution. Rest in knowing that when the change is made, everyone benefits. 

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