A solid company culture is one that supports employees’ efforts to grow and develop professionally so they can reach their full potential within the organization. Sometimes, these efforts may help the employee realize that they could learn more or would be a much better fit in a different department than they’re currently in. Great leaders want their employees to succeed — even in a different department — but if the transition isn’t done thoughtfully, transferring workers to other departments can cause disruptions and destabilize team morale.
To help, these six entrepreneurs offer their best advice on how to effectively move employees to a new department so as to help them continue their growth and development, with minimal disruption to the organization.
Plan in advance, and create a framework.
The first step before beginning the move is the development of a clear plan of action, according to WPBeginner co-founder Syed Balkhi: “Creating a plan for any action is always a good idea, and this holds true for internal transitions as well.”
Having a strategy in place will help both the employee and the department they want to be transferred to. “You can create a framework that helps your employee and the other people involved understand what tasks to carry out and whom to report to,” Balkhi explains.
Talk to everyone involved.
“Before moving an employee to a new department, talk to the employee, their head of department, and the head of the department they want to move to,” Matchnode co-founder Chris Madden advises, agreeing on the importance of having a clear plan with clear communication.
Management should first have conversations with all parties involved — individually to assess the situation, and then together to work out all the details. “Use the meeting to plan a gradual transition of responsibilities so that no one is wrong-footed by the move,” Madden says.
Look at their existing work.
If an employee voices interest in learning and moving to a new department, managers should first look at their record and work to determine if they are a good fit for the position, SeedProd founder John Turner thinks.
“If not, you can suggest ways they can improve at their existing job, and encourage them to ask again once they’ve implemented your advice,” Turner adds. If the employee has exceeded expectations, managers should go ahead and talk to the department and work out a schedule for the employee to train for their new role.
Start with a cross-functional project.
“Cross-functional work involves working on or with multiple teams at the same time to accomplish a goal,” Jared Polites, partner at LaunchTeam, explains. While looking at their existing work can be a good indicator as to whether they’re a good fit for their desired new department, assigning them a specific project can be more relevant in some cases.
“Find a project that gives them a chance to prove themselves and even see if the other team is made up of people they would be happy working with,” Polites suggests. “Doing this will prevent premature decisions that could harm all involved.”
Find them a sponsor.
To ensure a smooth transition, managers could assign the employee a sponsor or a mentor, thinks Chris Harris, founder and president of BridgeTech. This would be very helpful for all parties involved, most of all for the employee who is interested in taking on a new role with new responsibilities.
“If you can foster a culture of employees being able to follow their intellectual interests into other areas of your company, the folks who do that first can mentor the ones that do it second and third,” Harris explains. “Otherwise, if this is the first time, try and find a ‘sponsor’ — an existing member of the team who is familiar with the new role who can foster the transitioning employee, even if that’s you!”
Make them feel valuable.
No matter how you approach this transition, the important thing is making your employee feel valued and valuable in their department, and also listening to them and considering their requests, according to Patrick Barnhill, president of Specialist ID.
Listening to employees’ needs is vital for business success. After all, moving the employee to the department they are interested in could turn out to be a vector for further economic growth for the company and personal growth for the individual, Barnhill underlines. “People want to feel fulfilled with their jobs, so it is important to accommodate your employees accordingly and make sure they are happy.”