Expert Commentary

Misaligned Employees: When To Reassign or Release

Business leaders constantly need to evaluate their employees to determine whether they are aligned with the company and their role. There is too great of a risk that misaligned employees will negatively impact productivity, team chemistry, and the overall health of the company. They cannot be ignored.


Employee Hiring, Development, and Retention
February 2019

The first important step is looking for the following signs of an employee who is not aligned with their role or the company culture.

  • Habitual mistakes in their work
  • An uncharacteristic decline in productivity
  • Excuses for a decline in work or productivity
  • Not getting along with their teammates
  • Absenteeism or consistently late for work or meetings

Good business leaders will discover and document these signs. Then, once you discover the signs, you need to match up the employee's behavior with your company's performance management process.

This leads to a key question: does your company have a process for holding employees accountable for a decline in productivity or overall workplace behavior? If the employee believes they can miss appointments or put down teammates without consequences because there is no workplace standard, the issue of a misaligned employee could grow into a larger problem affecting your company's overall well-being.

Be sure that your company has a performance management process to hold employees accountable. Then, be prepared to have a critical conversation to determine if this employee is capable of realigning with the organization's standards and processes.

Are You Prepared for a Tough Conversation?

One of the most difficult conversations for a business leader is talking about workplace performance or misbehavior with an employee. However, this conversation is critical to keep your company on track toward production and profitability because misaligned employees could cause irreparable damage to your company.

The best tool to arm yourself with is an assessment of whether the candidate is following the performance management process. Without this information, you are relying on subjective, disputable opinions that could lead to a heightened sense of discord and misalignment from your employee.

With the assessment, however, you are able to clearly identify areas where the employee is misaligned, creating an objective measurement that both parties can discuss to determine the next course of action.

This brings up an important point about the mechanics of this conversation. Business leaders need to understand the steps of the critical conversation, the message they need to send, how to stay in control of the conversation, the attitude of the receiver, and the opportune time to have this conversation.

If this conversation is handled poorly, it could lead to the following problems.

  • An employee trying to take control over the business leader
  • Employee spreading misbehavior to other employees
  • A breakdown in communication of future important issues
  • An unproductive work environment affecting profitability

Then, once business leaders receive guidance on how to address misaligned employees, they need to be ready to make a decision about the employee's future in the company.

Make the Decision: Reassign or Release Misaligned Employees?

Let's follow the path. You discovered the signs of a misaligned employee, you matched up their workplace behavior with your performance management process, and you had the critical conversation about how to realign with the company. Now, you need to determine whether this employee should be reassigned to another role or department or if you should release this employee from the company.

When to retain and reassign—If the unproductive behavior or results can be corrected and if the employee shows a willingness to listen to the assessment, then it's a training or awareness issue. This can be addressed. The key is finding a different role or assignment for the employee to utilize their skills and competencies in a more productive manner.

If the employee is misaligned because of a developmental issue, you may never be able to correct the unproductive behavior. You should consider cutting bait at this point, using the measurable results of your assessment to ensure proper handling of the decision to release this employee.

For additional guidance on challenging workforce situations such as misaligned employees, read more about the benefits of the Clear Direction Team and Developmental Training Program that will increase engagement, productivity, and employee accountability to enhance workplace productivity benefiting your company's bottom line.


Opinions expressed in Expert Commentary articles are those of the author and are not necessarily held by the author's employer or IRMI. Expert Commentary articles and other IRMI Online content do not purport to provide legal, accounting, or other professional advice or opinion. If such advice is needed, consult with your attorney, accountant, or other qualified adviser.

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