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Help workers handle an assignment change

Business Management Daily

One of the duties of a successful supervisor is to make the best use of the skills and abilities of every team member. Occasionally, this means taking people off their accustomed assignments and putting them in other, sometimes less-desirable situations.

Here are some guidelines to help make the transition a little smoother:

Explain the change clearly. It’s a mistake to soft-soap the details of the assignment change you’re making, particularly when it entails different and less-satisfactory hours, working conditions or advancement opportunities. If you cover them up now, your team member may feel surprised and ultimately deceived.

Take a positive stance. It’s a good idea to share your understanding of how the change you’re making will improve everyone’s performance and success. Even if you’re moving Chad down or over to make room for Jen, the change may still be positive for him in some ways, such as having more time to develop basic skills or getting away from the heaviest pressure to perform.

Give full answers to questions. Whether the individual is surprised or expecting the assignment change, any shift will usually bring up questions about expectations, responsibilities, even pay. Answer these questions in detail to clear the air and help put the individual on track toward success in the new assignment.

Put the change in perspective. Most people view assignment changes as direct reflections of their individual performance. But in making an assignment change, you probably review and weigh many factors. By openly discussing your broader point of view, you remove some of the “personal” nature of the change you’re making and help everyone involved understand their role in the team’s future.

Lay out your expectations. You’ll get maximum impact from a change in assignment if you take the time to explain — to the individual and the team — your vision for the future and exactly what you expect to achieve.

Handle with care. If this kind of change is not handled carefully, it can result in a confrontational, unpleasant and morale-killing experience. But if you handle it thoughtfully, you can minimize the discomfort level of the assignment change.