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Submitted by superjac on


Short story: My boss told me to find a new job within the company for my admin or let her go. I’m agonizing over a new job description for her, but I keep coming back to these two sticking points.
1) She is the single High S/I in our company of 15. We are High D/C, and we tip toe around her communication needs and difficulty with deadlines and priorities.
2) For last year's "Submit new topics to the Customer Support FAQ" she supplied:
". . .I would like to suggest that each person take time to reflect on their communication as they currently practice and make a conscious effort that when we return from the holidays to improve their own behaviors. It will not only make for a better place to work, others will be better informed and have the capability to perform at a high level; which in turn will create more confidence in their job rolls. It is all in the way that a person is spoken to that will create a good place to work . . ." to which we all sighed heavily.

I can’t deny the value of having a diversified team, but I’m not sure that her personality is a good fit for my team or the company. She is a warm and friendly person in a group of people that are slightly cold and moderately friendly. She requires so much information and communication that the whole company now only uses “reply-to-all”. (Cause she asked so nicely “for communication” and none of us had the heart to tell her how crazy this was.) I don’t get a single email anymore directed to one recipient.

I’m wondering if spending all this time to make a round hole for my lone round peg in a sea of square pegs and holes is valuable?

superjac's picture
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If it is helpful to know more, two months ago my boss (president) told me that he was thinking about cutting my team, specifically the admin, to allow him to hire a new software developer. Yesterday, he came to me and said that changing circumstances allowed that she could stay provided that :
1) I found more work for her to justify her salary
2) OR she kept her job with a 50% pay cut.
3) AND She had to be happy working here in that role.
--OR—He would let her go as planned.

She is a good employee. She is thorough and detailed and exact. She is bored in her current role for which she is over-qualified, over-paid and tends to busy herself too often by getting involved in other people’s work where it fails to provide benefit.

I didn’t hire her. She was hired for another role in marketing, but when that manager was let go for poor performance the department was dissolved. She was transferred to Operations with her previous salary, and my department tried to make a job for her.

kimberlykidd's picture

When I read the background information, I have to agree with your boss. Let the person go if they are not adding value to the team.  I don't like to be so cut and dry but unless you can see where you can utilize someone with that skill set, you are holding up that individual from finding a rewarding position with a company who could utilize their knowledge, skills and abilities.  Additionally, and nobody likes to talk about this,you are wasting payroll dollars.

simmensen's picture





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Did anyone write a description for Peg's role?  Has anyone done ANY feedback, let alone coaching, let alone late-stage?  Has anyone had the courage to tell her what's up?  Are there other issues pending, bodies buried, etc., such that she might sue or help others sue?  Or is the company hoping she’ll just make it convenient by quitting voluntarily?  I ask, because for all your company’s High-D and High-C orientation, there's sure a lot of tip-toeing going on, such that I wonder if your post contains more feedback than has been shared directly with her.  What's up with THAT? 

Look in the mirror.

In her favor, maybe with 15 predominantly high-D, high-C people, they could use one person with her concern for harmony and process.  Against, it seems many of your 15 wouldn't miss her; she also seems a bit too strongly S/I for the group’s culture and should probably move along for that reason alone.

Does she have the developmental plasticity and the willingness to focus her gifts on what her job calls for, and not on extraneous matters?  You won't know the answer until you ask.  You won't be able to ask until you tell her what's up -- i.e., what the company needs, what her new job calls for, how she'll be evaluated.  And she probably won't give you a straight answer unless she has confidence she'll be given honest, consistent supervision and feedback.

Suggestion A: Get basic employment law advice to mitigate risks; if you can, come up with a new description; make the change-over about the company’s changing needs and not about her performance (again, it seems the company hasn’t leveled with her all along), but make it definite and firm; give copious feedback, measure, document, coach. 

Suggestion B: Severance package; and have the lawyer look it over.

There's a whiff of co-dependency about the whole setup.  Where there's smoke, there's fire.  There's probably trouble elsewhere in the company, stemming from denial and sweeping things under the rug.  Enough; that inquiry's for another day.

scm2423's picture

If you are thinking of keeping her what can you do to set her up for success?  What are her strengths, where can you use them?  Can you formulate a role around that?  Just cause she has a different style doesn't mean you have to lose her.  It sounds like she is not in the right role.  Of course if the role for her doesn't exist or isn't required then have a frank conversation with her.  If she is bored she might already be looking for something else and just needs a little push to make a change.  Loosing her doesn't have to be a bad thing if you both realize that it is not going to be a good situation for both of you.


maura's picture
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Is there an actual customer support function in your company? Hard working, super friendly, and good with details sounds like someone who would be good in a customer-facing role, especially given that everybody else in the company is more task focused.  That might also require a pay cut though.

12string's picture
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It sounds like she would be a good fit in Human Resources, or in a orientation / training role.  Are there any openings there? 


superjac's picture
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@Simmensen. Sorry I wasn't clear. She is not being fired for poor performance. She is a good performer. Makes some mistakes like anyone, but overall good. She is being laid off because of cost reductions.

SCM2423, "Just cause she has a different style doesn't mean you have to lose her.  It sounds like she is not in the right role.", I think you are right here.

She is in customer support now, and she does great talking to the customers and gathering information from them. She is hampered from doing anything with too much responsibility because this is Linux IT support. She doesn't have any kind of technical background, and she struggles with some concepts that the team takes for granted, such as the difference between a MB, a GB, and TB. 

My boss has asked me to sit down with her Monday, tell her that her current role is being eliminated, and then ask her what role she might see herself filling instead. But he told me that she would have to interview for that new role like any other candidate. And she will be creating a job for herself that doesn't exist since there are no openings in the company, so it was far from a sure thing. 

I'm really not sure how that part of the meeting will go.