Discussing a demotion with an employee can be a challenging conversation. This situation is often seen as negative, especially if it’s related to a reduction in pay. It’s important to prepare for this conversation to help it go as smoothly as possible, and most critical to present it as positively as possible to be respectful of the employee.
What to Think About
The main point to stress in a demotion conversation is that the company wishes to retain the employee, rather than terminate. Demotions can occur due to downsizing or position elimination, which are outside the employee’s control, or poor performance in a role. If performance is a factor, the decision to keep an employee is often because he or she was performing well previously, but after being bumped up or given added responsibilities, experienced decreased performance. The company wants to give the employee a chance for continued success, and thus returning to a previous role, or taking on a more appropriate title, is the next step.
Four Key Factors When Discussing a Demotion
- Be honest. Explain the reason for the demotion, especially if it is performance-related. Explain how a change of position will help the employee and the company.
- Keep it supportive. The main point is that the employee is valuable, and you want to take steps to support him or her in being successful with the company.
- Be clear about the new role. Explain what the new role entails. Set up a time to review all responsibilities and outline how the employee can do well in the new role.
- Prepare for various outcomes. If the employee sees the role change as an opportunity, the conversation can stay positive. However, as a demotion may be associated with a pay cut, be prepared for a negative reaction and how to handle it. Have answers to questions ready to go for common questions, including:
- “Can I have more time to prove myself?”
- “Can I move to a position other than the one you’re offering?”
- “Can I have time to think about it?”
Be Discerning with the Transition
Work out a transition plan for the employee that helps them preserve their dignity. The reasons behind a demotion don’t need to be communicated, only that a position change is happening and when it will take place.
Beware of Risks
A demotion can be viewed by an employee as discrimination, so be sure to follow all company policies, and involve Human Resources. It’s always better to be safe and prepared, than to face legal risks. It’s also wise to monitor the employee’s behavior after a demotion and talk to them directly about any negativity you observe. A negative attitude can be detrimental to the employees around them.
Get Help Finding Qualified Employees
If you have roles to fill at your company and you’re having difficulty finding workers with the right qualifications, check out Wood personnel. We’ll work with you to understand what you need and how we can help.