Running in the Wrong Direction
Some people are just not good fits for the jobs they hold, which raises a number of issues for both employees and managers. As a manager, you hope that good hiring practices and regular performance evaluations catch these situations before they become problems, but you also know that even in the most ideal circumstances things sometimes don't work out.
The employee might have misunderstood the job's actual responsibilities; sometimes condensing a job description into 100 words or less to fit in a help-wanted ad or position posting leaves out vital details that no one detects during the interview process. Sometimes an employee is desperate to have a job and convinces himself that this is the perfect one.
Managers can also find themselves wanting to hire someone for reasons other than compatibility with the job; perhaps the job has been vacant for a long time, or the person strikes the right note on the personality scale and has the desired skills, even though there are signals that he or she is really overqualified or views the job as a stepping stone to more interesting positions. Sometimes the result is an employee has the skills the company needs but a work style that's not compatible. Then the manager has to decide whether those skills are needed enough to accommodate the person who has them — and how to do that.
As a manager, it's up to you to be sure you — and your department and company — are doing everything possible to help an employee be successful. It's your responsibility to do all of the following:
Provide adequate and appropriate resources, including workspace and equipment.
Clearly articulate goals and priorities — for the employee, for the work group, and for the company. Put them in writing, so you each have a copy.
Ensure that the job tasks are consistent with the job advertisement (and vice versa). The best time to establish that you are all on the same page is during the interview. Then affirm understandings and expectations within the first few days of employment.
Give clear instructions when tasks must be performed or completed in a certain way or by a specific time, and monitor workloads to be sure employees are working to capacity but are not overwhelmed.
Communicate clearly and regularly with all employees to see how a new employee fits into the work group.
Carefully document problems that you notice or that other employees bring to you, and meet with the employee as soon as you can clearly define that there are problems.
Work collaboratively with the employee, and with coworkers if appropriate, to find mutually agreeable solutions.
Someone who excels at innovation is not likely to do well at maintenance. Someone who thrives on detail isn't likely to do well conceptualizing. Your role as manager is to identify the work styles among the people who report to you and encourage processes that support those work styles in ways that balance individual strengths with department needs.
In some situations, you'll find ways to work things out to keep a valued employee on your team. In other situations, the challenges will be insurmountable and you'll have no choice but to let the employee go. If you have done all you can do to give the employee the best possible chance to succeed (including discussing the situation with your superiors as well as your HR department), then you truly have done all you can do.