Whirlwind last week between Wash DC and my hometown, Austin, TX. I would like to welcome our new subscribers from those Time Span workshops.
From the Ask Tom mailbag:
Okay, the workshop opened my eyes. I now understand why one of my managers is failing. I promoted them to a position that is beyond their capability. Training hasn’t worked, coaching hasn’t worked. How do you demote someone who has been overpromoted?
First, you have to realize who made the mistake. And it’s NOT the person who was placed in the role beyond their capability. It’s the manager. My guess, it’s you.
The biggest mistake most managers make is underestimating the Level of Work in the role. One reason is that most managers don’t sit down and think about what is really required in terms of Time Span capability.
That said, your question is how to fix it. First, you have to take responsibility for the underperformance. Own up to your mistake.
This inevitable conversation will be difficult. Difficult to talk about, difficult for the other person to accept. Effective completion of work is tied into our self-concept and our emotions. It feels good when we are effective. It feels bad when we are not effective.
The focus of the conversation has to be on the work. Focus on the work, not the person. The underperformance does not make them a bad person, it simply reveals capability related to the Level of Work in the role.
Discuss specifically about how the two of you intend to re-design the role so that the task assignments are within the demonstrated Applied Capability of the team member.
Embedded in your question is the unspoken issues of job title and compensation. Don’t mince words. Your job titles should be consistent across your organization and indicate Level of Work. Failure to maintain consistency causes confusion of expectations for everyone. Compensation may have to be readjusted if you, as the Manager, have made a gross error in judgment. For the most part, I find compensation errors are minor. You might be a pay band off, and if that’s they case, suck it up. A person’s capability increases over time. Eventually they should catch up. You may have to defer a raise period or two while that happens, but remember, you made the mistake.
Let us know how this turns out.