Making the decision to demote an employee is never an easy process. You have to proceed carefully and make sure that you have exhausted all other avenues first. In our article, we’re going to offer eight tips to teach you how to demote an employee effectively.
1. Never Demote Someone Lightly
When learning how to demote an employee effectively, one of the most important things to remember is that you should never demote someone lightly. A demotion should always be one of your last options before termination. Instead, make sure that you have exhausted all other avenues like coaching and continued education. Once these types of alternatives have been utilized, you are ready to proceed to our next tips.
2. Maintain Clear Records
The next tip to consider when you are learning how to demote an employee effectively is to always maintain clear records. What we mean by this is that you should always have a clear and concise timeline of records that clearly demonstrate the multitude of attempts you have made with the employee to correct their behavior.
Some ideal examples of records that you should save include write-ups, records of excessive absenteeism, complaints that have been validated by other employees, as well as poor performance data like sales totals. This type of data will help you show the employee that their negative behavior has been going on for quite some time and that you have made multiple attempts to work with them to resolve the issue.
3. Make Sure You Have an Appropriate Vacancy First
Before you decide to demote someone, you have to make sure that you have an appropriate vacancy for them first. In many cases, it’s common to keep the person in the same department that they originally worked in. This helps to reduce the amount of cross-training necessary that may be required after the demotion.
However, there are certain instances where moving the person to another department is preferable. The most likely case for this to occur is when you will be promoting someone else that was previously under the person you are demoting. Rather than dealing with the potential for bad blood between the demoted employee and their new superior, it’s often best to move them to another equivalent position in another department.
4. Involve Their Direct Supervisor Whenever Possible
When deciding how to demote an employee fairly and effectively, one of the best things you can do is involve their direct supervisor in the decision. To do this, meet with them and establish a dialogue to understand why they do or do not agree with your assessment.
The reason for this is that their direct supervisor may have inside knowledge that pertains to the employee’s unique circumstance. In some cases, it’s possible that they are experiencing personal issues at home that may warrant a leave of absence instead. By meeting with their direct supervisor before making a final decision, you can avoid making a mistake and losing a valuable employee.
5. Practice Your Constructive Feedback
If you have reached this point in our tips on how to demote an employee effectively, you have likely done your due diligence and are ready to take action. Before you have a meeting with the employee, take some time to practice your constructive feedback first. A great way to do this is to roleplay with another management professional.
Constructive feedback is meant to help a person improve and to not hurt the person’s feelings. Remember, your feedback should never feel like a personal attack to a person. Instead, focus on the specifics of their performance and attempt to come up with examples. You should always avoid speaking in general terms so that the person knows you are using examples that specifically pertain to them.
6. Call Them to Your Office as Covertly as Possible
Our sixth tip on how to demote an employee effectively is to call them to your office as covertly as possible. The last thing you want to do is to call them up during a busy period where other employees are likely to take notice.
A great way to avoid this is to schedule a time with them in advance. That way, you do not have to call them over a PA system or other obtrusive method. When they do come to your office, make sure that no one is hanging around to protect their privacy and dignity as you have your conversation with them.
7. Consider Having a Neutral Witness Present
A common practice that many companies use is to always have a neutral witness present during important employee discussions like reprimands and demotions. An appropriate witness will be a fellow member of management in another department. Their only purpose is to observe the meeting and to take mental notes. They do not have to offer any feedback to the individual.
The reason for this is the witness can validate any claims that may or may not be made by either party present. This is particularly useful for employees who may be prone to outburst and other strong reactions.
8. Get a Signed Copy of the Demotion Agreement
Whenever you are moving a person to another position due to poor job performance, it’s very important that you get a signed copy of the demotion agreement. A demotion agreement will contain all of the job responsibilities of the new position, the effective date of the job change, as well as the new pay rate and the name of the person that they will be directly reporting to.
In addition, it’s also common to detail the specific reasons for the demotion in the agreement letter. The employee should read it carefully and be requested to sign it. Once signed, you have proof that they accept and understand the terms of the demotion agreement. This can help protect you and the company from potential legal issues down the line.
Drawing to a Close
By keeping these eight tips in mind, you should have a sound understanding of how to demote an employee effectively. While it’s not an easy process, it can help a person keep their job and potentially move onto a more suitable position in the long-term.