Four Things Businesses Overlook When Moving Employees to a New Position

By Marissa Levin, an EO Baltimore member and CEO of Information Experts

So often when we’re thinking of expanding, we turn our attention to the external hiring process. In many cases, however, who we need is already with us. It seems logical to move a proven employee from one position to another. After all, we know their work styles & capabilities, and they know our culture, customers, & products/services. Plus, we trust them.

But wait. Before we make changes, how do we know they will be just as successful in a new role?

A client is going through this process right now. For months, she has struggled with not having enough project management coverage for her government clients. We’ve evaluated potential hires. Rightfully so, she’s hesitant to hire a stranger to care for her most important customer relationships. We’ve also looked at how she and other members of her executive team are allocating their time to determine if they have extra bandwidth for hands-on project management. They don’t.

Our next solution? An existing employee.

In my previous column, Performing & Promoting to the Highest Levels of Incompetence, I discuss how employees tend to rise to their highest levels of incompetence (The Peter Principle) when they are moved from a position in which they excel to a different position. Supervisors “promote” their employees to more demanding positions because they want to reward them for a job well done, and want to give them opportunities to grow, learn more, and earn more.

To prevent Peter from rearing his ugly head at my client’s organization, we are assessing the following elements before moving anyone:

1: The Client Impact. My client’s project manager is currently full-time with a specific customer. Shifting her role will require her to reduce hours for her customer, and take on hours at additional customers.

Action item:

1: Discuss with the client. Gain their buy-in before making any changes.

2: Brainstorm with the employee about a plan to ensure customer service and project management is not impacted. Who on her team that she manages can take on project management responsibilities, since they are on site?

2: The Company Impact. The smallest company change can create large ripple effects. How will this be perceived by others in the company? How will people be personally impacted? What needs to be communicated to the company regarding this change?

Action item:

1: Consider the impact on each employee that works with the movable employee. Will they have a new supervisor? Will they require a different performance review plan?

2: Consider a communications strategy to keep the entire company aware of impending changes.

3: The Employee Impact. Does the employee fully understand the impact of this change?

Action Item:

Provide the employee with the time and space to fully think through the change. How will it impact their daily schedule? How will it impact their home life (More travel? More driving? More hours)?

This brings me to the one question employers must answer before moving any employee to a new position in the company:

4: Have they passed the “GWC” test?  My favorite hiring test – for both new hires, and when you are considering moving an employee around – is the GWC test. Do they Get It, Want It and have the Capacity to do it?

Get it: Do they really understand the job?

Want it: Do they want to do this job more than they want to do anything else?

Capacity to do it: Do they have the required capacities to be successful – intellectual, emotional, physical, spiritual – whatever those capacities may be?

I wrote about the GWC Model in my column, Should You Make The Hire? Should You Keep The Employee? Three Simple Litmus Tests.

To thoroughly answer these questions, you must create a job description for the new position, and have your employee follow the same hiring process you would have anyone else follow. They should apply for the job. You should interview them. And they must know exactly what is expected.

Further, it’s important to assume they will need ramp-up time in their new position. While they may be comfortable with the organization, they may need some time getting fully comfortable in their new role.

Moving them over can be successful with the right precautionary steps. You can effectively avoid The Peter Principle from rearing its head while ensuring your top performers are able to learn, grow, and be challenged.

This article is reposted with permission from its author, Marissa Levin.

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