An employee’s position has outgrown them. What do I do?

Monday, April 6th, 2009

Dear Norm,
About two and a half years ago, I hired someone to be the operations manager of my company. He was the perfect fit for my business at the time. Now, however, the company has outgrown his ability to handle the job. He is still an asset to the team but not in his current position. I would like to keep him on the bus and move him to a different seat. It’s a tough situation. He is thirty-three years old and has a family. But I feel I must do something. Any suggestions?

Dear Eric,
We all wind up in your situation sooner or later, and I agree—it’s tough. You feel guilty because it’s your fault for putting him there in the first place. I used to try doing what you’re suggesting, but things seldom worked out well. The issue was compensation. If I cut a guy’s salary, he would be resentful. If I didn’t cut his salary, I would become resentful. You need to think clearly and unemotionally about this situation. If you have another job on the same pay level that the guy is suited for, by all means, move him over. But don’t do it if his new responsibilities won’t justify paying him what he’s been getting up to now. It’s better to let him go. If your conscience bothers you, give him a big severance package.
Yours truly, Norm

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