Teams rarely are perfect. There are always situations when team members are incompatible, or half the team feels as if it is carrying the weight of the entire team while others feel overlooked and misunderstood. Navigating these dynamics can be challenging for managers.
Even more difficult if determining the future for an employee that is underperforming but isn’t exactly a replacement player. They may not be the weakest link on the team, and certainly has skills or talents and may be passionate about the business, but production is low and there is a lack of motivation.
According to an article by Business News Daily, “While employers would like to believe they always make the right hire, a report by Right Management found that 1 in 5 workers are in the wrong job, leaving them feeling unmotivated, disengaged and unproductive.”
Not every underperforming or replacement player needs to be moved out of the organization. Sometimes a replacement player is merely a good team member who is cast in the wrong role.
Communication is an important first step in determining if the employee might thrive in a different role. Discuss with the team member his or her goals, ambitions, and openness to a different role in the organization. This feedback can help you identify other potential roles and fits in the organization. Review with your management peers or your supervisor the role(s) you have in mind based on his/her skillset and goals.
Once a potential alternative position is identified, discuss the opportunity with the team player. If interested in learning more, schedule time for the employee to meet with the manager for the new team.
If the team member buys into the opportunity to change roles, the next important step is to build a transition plan – with the team member. Clearly define the timeline for the transition both with your team and the employee’s new team. Allow plenty of time for the team member to ask questions, meet with his/her new manager and team members, and to work with your team on a plan for ensuring tasks and deadlines aren’t missed in the transition.
A well-planned, well-communicated plan for moving a team member into a new role can not only improve the transitioning employee’s motivation and engagement, but it also builds goodwill and fosters a culture that humanizes the workplace experience, making employees feel valuable versus a number or cog in the wheel.