Hi - 

I have a direct that i believe I have promoted (2-3 years ago) into a role they aren't able to handle.  I only recently started implementing the MT Trinity and i know there are a million things I could have done differently but the past is in the past.  

I am convinced the best thing for the organization is that he is no longer in his role, despite not giving him the support he probably needed.  I do have someone who is qualified for the role ready to step in as well.

This individual in question has a ton of positive qualities and hasn't done anything to warrant a termiantion, but he is defnitely holding the organization back in his current role.  I would like to move him to another role that we need desperately, but i'm not sure if he is interested in it yet.  

My question is: is a demotion and departmental change a feasible option or is that a bigger blow to his ego than a termiantion?  I know there was more I could have done, but alas i didn't do it and need to make a change now.  I'm not even sure how to have this conversation with him.  Is there any guidance on this topic?  




ses's picture
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Without all the details, these are some thoughts that come to mind:

Have you done a shot across the bow?  How sure are you that this direct understands that he's not cutting it, so he's had a chance to do something about it?

How did he respond to the shot across the bow, if you have done it?  How much time has he had to right the ship, and how much feedback have you provided?

Why do you need to make a change NOW, as opposed to a week or a month from now?  Is this need apparent to others?

How have you considered not just the immediate issue (that person B will do this job better than person A) but the long-term impact on the organization (at least your localized bit of it) of the switch?

  • If A's performance is negatively impacting the wider team, the team may be relieved by the change.
  • If this comes as a shock to A, or to others, this change may beel punitive (i.e. a punishment for low performance rather than a way to fix the situation)...that can send a ripple of distrust through the team/organization.
  • If A has been trying in vain to fix the issues driving your desire to move him, then the change may come as a relief, a chance to start over and be more successful.
  • Any time you terminate when you could have offered a demotion or reassignment, you're sending a scary message: it's best not to be ambitious or take risks, because trying to do a challenging job may leave you without any job.
  • Are you providing A with ways to save face, to the extent possible?  That can be a huge trust-builder.
Chris Zeller's picture
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Hi DG,

I'll second Ses's bullet points -- those are all things to keep in mind.

And good for you for recognizing both your obligation to your organizaiton and your failure to promote someone who wasn't entirely qualified and then support that person.

Anecdotally, I've been that person. And, having been put on the termination path, I can tell you that it was incredibly disruptive. I would have been entirely grateful to be demoted into my old role or re-assigned, particularly if it had been done with the kindness and support that you appear to be offering.

If you can do it with no or minimal reduction in pay, even better. And if there's wiggle room for the public-framing of things to allow him to save face, then so much the better. That makes you a more caring and overall better manager than most.

Sketch out some word-tracks and notes so that you can stay on message when you deliver the news. Practice saying them out loud until they come naturally, and plan for likely responses.