Do you have bright employees in the wrong job?

What if you hire an exceptional candidate, only to find they'd be better suited to another role?

Do you have bright employees in the wrong job?

It’s not unusual to get excited about an intelligent interviewee who you know could add value to your firm. The problem is oftentimes they’re either too qualified for the role or they end up leaving too soon. Companies have been, and will be, guilty of employing someone with an eye to the future. The problem is that if you have someone in the wrong job their satisfaction levels rapidly decline and no matter how sound your company culture, an unhappy employee is well, an unhappy employee.

“An employee is more likely to succeed in a role at the intersection of three things: skills, motivation and value to the community/employer,” Mimma Mason, head, Pearson Clinical Assessment Asia Pacific, said. “If an employee has skills and valued but not motivated, they will be unlikely to stay in a job. If an employee is motivated and skilled but that skill isn't valued, then they will have a hobby not a job.

“In the past we only ever measured skills and value to the employer and left out motivation. It explains how an employee might get a really bright employee in the wrong job.”

The motivation factor

Motivation is a big indicator of an employee’s desire to work harder and to look at areas beyond their immediate influence. A motivated employee willingly offers solutions or add values to other parts of the business without being asked. They use their initiative to get things done.

There isn’t a high probability of this happening if the employee is not engaged with their current position and doesn’t see any opportunities outside of their current role.

“Human resources are increasingly adding motivation insights to insights about cognitive ability and hard skills when assessing a candidate for a job,” Mason added. “We give people scenarios in job interviews to try to work out their motivations. At Pearson we have assessments that reveal those motivations and skills to both the individual and the employer.

“The better an employee knows their strengths and what suits them, especially as it changes over time, the more likely they are to successfully career mobile.

“Human resource leaders should be encouraging individuals to explore these questions not only at recruitment but as part of the development process, continuously looking at strengths, weaknesses, preferences and gaps that could be filled with training.”

Open communication

One area an employer can undertake with an unmotivated or unsatisfied employee is an open and frank conversation. Speaking candidly with the employee and letting them do the same in a respectful way, can only benefit both parties. The resolution might not be to the satisfaction of one party, but it will allow a difficult situation to be discussed and hopefully answered. 

“Have an honest conversation about your employee's strengths and weaknesses, understand their key motivators and drivers, and assess why the role is not the right fit,” Damien Andreasen ANZ country manager, at intuitive HR platform company HiBob.

“Ask yourself, does your employee need more training and development, or is it just not the right fit overall? If there are alternate projects suited to your employee’s skill set, consider shifting their workload to match their strengths.

“If the role is truly not the right fit, work together with the employee and human resources team to explore other available roles within the company. Ultimately, the wrong role fit will make your employee unhappy and unproductive, could lead to burnout, and may harm team morale.”

A wrong job can happen for a number of reasons. The job description could not emphasis or even leave out key elements of the position or an elongated hiring process may see the job change by the time the employee starts.

“A wrong job fit can be caused by several factors,” Andreasen said. “Was there clear alignment among the hiring committee on the role's requirements? Were the role’s scope and responsibilities clearly communicated throughout the interview process? Is the advertised role very different to the actual day-to-day responsibilities? These key questions can help you figure out where and what went wrong.

“Creating a great employee onboarding experience is a very important element in ensuring new employees have a clear understanding of their role and responsibilities from day one. An onboarding buddy can help new starters navigate their new work environment and set ting a 30/60/90 day plan and review will help new employees to assess if the role is the right fit.

"Human resources can support the process by ensuring opportunities for career development, implementing a mentorship or coaching program, and supporting internal mobility opportunities.”

Hiring a talented employee and soon finding out that they are in the wrong position doesn’t have to end in disaster for both parties. Communicating clearly and honestly through the interview process and during the probation process can quickly determine if both the employer and the employee have the right fit. Best to sort it out sooner rather than later in order to maintain a professional relationship.

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