There may come a time for certain employees when they notice that their skills or interests are better suited to another part of the company and they ask to switch to a different department to better serve their goals. When this happens, managers may not know how to react as the request may come out of the blue or it could be taken as a slight on their current department.
However, it’s important to keep a few key ideas in mind and help this employee grow and develop the most positive way possible. To help managers keep perspective, eight experts from Young Entrepreneur Council discuss what managers should do when an employee asks to move to a different department and why facilitating these moves could be to the benefit of the employee and the company as a whole.
Young Entrepreneur Council members suggest what steps a manager should take if their employee asks to move to another department.
Photos courtesy of the individual members.
1. Understand Why They Want To Move
The first thing a manager should do is try to understand why the employee wants to shift to another department. The reason for their request can help you facilitate the employee better. Sometimes, people want to move to another department because they are not being challenged where they are at the moment. It’s also possible that there is an interpersonal conflict taking place. Having a conversation with your employee and understanding why they want to move to another place can help you come up with the right solution and make sure that people are working to their strengths in your organization. You’ll also uncover problems at the workplace that otherwise might not have come to your attention. – Syed Balkhi, WPBeginner
2. Find A Workable Path For Them
Great managers unlock human potential and translate it into performance—not just within their department, but within the company as a whole. If you’re a manager and a high-performer on your team expresses interest in moving to a different department, you should guide them. Find a workable path to enable them to explore things further, to see whether the new role or department is actually a good fit for their talents and abilities. A workable path means a way for your high-performing employee to explore new opportunities without negatively impacting your current department or the company overall. You keep top talent by opening doors, not closing them. – Ben Landers, Blue Corona
3. Be Completely Supportive
One of the things you have to get used to as a boss and manager is that your team always changes. While your goal is to hire good people who are the right fit for their roles and the company (and then hopefully retain them), it is inevitable and totally natural that employees are looking to build their careers and, in time, move on. I think it is really important that as a boss you support your employees’ career goals, as this is how you can get the best work from them. Discuss career goals up front and how you can help them get there. This means that from the start they know you’re working to help them take the next step in their career. This way they are motivated to do their current job while still keeping their eye on the prize. – Maria Thimothy, OneIMS
4. Offer To Set Up An Informational Interview For Them
The manager should encourage the employee to apply to any open positions in the department they are looking to move to through the regular channels and let them know that they would be happy to recommend them. Managers are often reluctant to lose good team members, but hindering a transition that an employee desires would be a mistake. At the same time, to throw the team member right into a new situation, even on a trial basis, may cause problems in the new department. If the manager has any close contacts in the new department, he or she might offer to set up an informational interview for the team member to ask questions and find out what a typical day might be like in their desired department. – Reuben Yonatan, SaasList
5. Encourage Them To Take On A Trial Project
I’m a big fan of letting employees test out a role before formally moving into it, especially when stepping into a new department. For example, our managers encourage employees considering a move to get involved in a project in the department they’re interested in. It gives them front-row seats to how the department works and demonstrates where their skills will really shine. Even if there’s not a role available, this trial period can help the team figure out a new role that fits their needs and the employee’s interests and talents. It’s also a low-stakes way to see if the move is a good fit for everyone. We’ve found this has helped employees move across departments more seamlessly and create roles where they will flourish. – Sean Harper, Kin Insurance
6. Reach Out To The Other Department Lead
The manager should contact the department lead to see if they have the time and resources to train a new person. You may have to make some adjustments if not, but this is usually a good first step. After a week or two of training, ask the employee if they still want to transition to the new position. If not, you can put them back in their old spot. – John Turner, SeedProd LLC
7. Set Up A Shadowing Opportunity
You want to ask a lot of questions so that you can understand their motivations for wanting to be part of a different department and ensure that the move would actually give them what they are wanting. Setting up a time for them to shadow someone in that department will also give them more insight to be sure that it’s a switch they want to make. Then, if they are confident it’s a switch that makes sense for them, do everything in your power as a manager to make it happen. The worst managers are territorial and would try to sabotage their employees from switching roles—you do not want those managers at your company. – Kelsey Raymond, Influence & Co.
8. Ensure They Can Handle The New Tasks
Before the employee moves to a new department, it’s important for the manager to ensure that the employee can handle the new tasks efficiently. A good way to make that happen is to set a one-month training period before they assume the new role. In this period, the employee should undergo rigorous training so that they can properly fit into the new role. To know that the training is successful, you can also ask them to take a quick test if necessary. – Josh Kohlbach, Wholesale Suite