Unhappy Employees? Move ‘Em, Don’t Lose ‘Em

Conventional wisdom: Hire people for specific positions. If they don’t work out, fire them.

On the contrary: Don’t be afraid to shake things up–if your employees want to move around, let them.

It’s the new year, and that means unhappy employees across the country are resolving to finally leave their crappy jobs.

Nobody wants unhappy employees, and nobody wants to go through the time and expense of hiring and training replacements. News flash: It’s not an either/or situation. So go ahead and help your employees find new jobs…in your company. You’ll keep your team together and avoid having to take a gamble on untested new hires.

Transplant time

At Big Ass Fans, we hire for personality, not position. Obviously certain jobs require certain skills, but even the most qualified hire doesn’t always work out. Personality is just as much a key to success as job-specific knowledge. That’s why it’s important to find people who get along with others and have the drive and the enthusiasm to work well anywhere. If they’re not a perfect fit for their original jobs or if they just don’t like their roles, don’t lose them–move them.

One day several years ago, one of our longest-tenured and best salespeople came to me with a resignation letter in hand and said, “You know, Carey, I really hate this job.” According to him, sales was a struggle, not a challenge. Though he loved the company and the culture, he came to work each day uninspired and felt like he was letting us down. By the time he came to see me, he didn’t know what to do about it except quit.

He was a brilliant guy and obviously I didn’t want to lose him, but I knew that this was a situation where giving him a raise to stay put wasn’t going to change anything. More money wasn’t going to make him happier at his job, and if he stayed in sales, he’d be filling a position better suited for someone else.

But we knew he was a good fit for the company when we hired him, so firing him made no sense, either. Our solution? We moved him to a different department, into a job that allowed him to parlay his strengths into success. He’s done amazing work there, too–and, more importantly, he’s happier, even though his job is extremely demanding. Not only has he stayed with us, he even married another member of the Big Ass Fans team.


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