Home » Industry » Dealing With Demotion [column]

Imagine that the moment you walk in the office and there is a note for an appointment with your immediate supervisor.

Your mind starts reeling, very rarely are you summoned to that office by means of a letter. The first thing on your mind is “what have I done wrong?”

The moment you walk into that office you sense that something has definitely gone wrong. After exchanging pleasantries your supervisor tells you that you have been “reassigned” to a lesser role in another department.

The bitter pill is followed by rhetoric on how much the company appreciates your hard work, and have decided to re-assign you to an area that they feel you will contribute to the company more effectively.

Your body goes numb, your brain freezes, blood starts rushing to your head as reality sinks in.

Your first instinct is to seek answers for the demotion and clarity on this “re-assignment” and slowly but surely you realise that the decision is final.

You are now reporting to the individual that used to be your junior, you have a lesser role, your budget has been cut, your latitude in making decisions has been reduced and you now have to report to the “head office”.

This is the kind of scenario that can be quite challenging to any manager.

In most cases, many managers in such positions tend to crawl into a shell, which makes things worse while others consider quitting their job.

Demotions happen at various levels and have gained fancy titles in the process, some are called reorganisation, or redeployment, or reclassification, or reassignment.

Sometimes demotions happen for various reasons – for the purpose of downsizing or reorganising, in some instances it could be poor performance in current role.

Some companies opt for demotion as an alternative to termination.

I have encountered situations where people that were promoted because of their technical competence, go through a performance review, and weaknesses are revealed.

Somehow the superiors discover that they lack the management skills or ability to take on more senior skills responsibility.

Sometimes, they do not demonstrate the leadership skills that will be required of them or in some instances lack the ability to budget and take initiative. I have also observed that some people are better off as implementers rather than thinkers.

If a demotion is the result of misconduct, it could make disciplinary measures very risky and might not solve the problem.

Superiors must be respectful in communicating the intentions behind the demotion. Demotions also help in communicating to other departments on performance expectations.

Other people will have to adjust their own performance. Avoid stepping onto someone’s ego during the process. Face saving statements may water down the effect.

I would rate a demotion as a professional failure. I do understand that there are legalities surrounding demotions but companies must be careful when making such a move.

I have always encouraged companies to be very professional, have legal aice and be very humane if you take this route. Avoid putting people in situations where you force them to resign or quit.

I get uncomfortable with companies that blatantly eliminate people using this method it now gets into the category of being unethical.

Sometimes explaining to the employee and get their buy-in is very important.

You must have a rationale behind making such a move you may part with the company in a good way without lawsuits following you.

If its performance related, an employee may understand on such grounds.

If you are the person that has been affected, you may either lash out or crawl into their shell when such news is delivered.

Be wise and keep those emotions in check, these are the same people that you may need a reference letter from if you decide to resign.

If your sector is too small, there is a big chance you will meet often and this might result in those old issues cropping up.

If you decide to stay on after being demoted it will be good to increase the standard of your work. If there is a chance for improvement or training go for them and you never know it might work out to your aantage.

Till next week.

May God richly bless you!

Shelter Chieza is a Management Consultant. She can be contacted at shelter.chieza@gmail.com

Source : The Herald