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Home » What Are the Consequences of Placing Employees in the Wrong Roles?

What Are the Consequences of Placing Employees in the Wrong Roles?

by | Sep 27, 2023 | HR Legal Compliance

Enduring exhaustion, avoiding conflicts, performing tasks that feel unnatural, and experiencing a sense of not belonging are all common outcomes when employees find themselves in ill-suited roles. As an HR leader, witnessing these challenges can be disheartening, especially when unsure of how to address them effectively. Delving into the root cause of these issues often reveals that the lack of business synergy directly results from employees being mismatched with their roles or essential strengths being absent from the team. Such gaps and mismatches inevitably lead to various problems. The good news is that each of these problems can be avoided with the right insights into your team’s natural strengths, weaknesses, and abilities, aligning them with the specific needs of your business. By doing so, you can steer clear of the following four pitfalls.

Ineffectiveness in Hiring. Research shows that around 57% of HR leaders wish they had better talent acquisition and retention support in the past year. Repeatedly hiring using the same flawed strategy not only becomes exhausting but also wastes valuable time and money. To improve results, optimizing talent is essential. When you identify the right roles for your current employees, you gain valuable insights into the required skills for future hires. Utilizing objective behavioral and cognitive data during the hiring process leads to faster onboarding, improved performance, and higher employee retention rates.

Increased Workplace Conflict. When team members are in the wrong roles or placed on incompatible teams, conflict inevitably arises. This heightened conflict level results in decreased productivity, increased absenteeism, toxic work environments, and elevated stress levels. To avoid this, focus on ensuring the right fit from the start, building cohesive teams that reduce the potential for conflict.

Loss of Diverse Perspectives. Prioritizing diversity enhances company culture and performance, yet 70% of HR executives believe they can do better at creating an inclusive environment. Optimizing talent fosters more inclusion by ensuring diverse perspectives are heard and valued, leading to higher rates of innovation and retention. Talent optimization balances out teams, preventing “groupthink” and overused strengths.

Decreased Employee Engagement. Placing employees in roles that do not align with their natural strengths and motivations leads to disengagement. When employees are not engaged, they may seek engagement elsewhere, which can lead to high turnover rates. Addressing disengagement by placing people in the right roles or diagnosing the underlying issues can significantly reduce costs associated with employee turnover.

It’s crucial to remember that you do not have to accept these hazards as inevitable. By ensuring team members are in the right roles from the beginning, you can avoid these problems altogether. Match your employees with the appropriate roles to create a thriving and productive workforce.

What Can Happen if an Employee is in the Wrong Role?

It’s not fun being exhausted, dodging conflict, performing unnatural tasks, and feeling like you don’t belong. But these are common issues when employees are in the wrong role. It’s also not fun for you as an HR leader to see these challenges and feel ill-equipped to fix them.

When you dig into what isn’t working, often you’ll find that your lack of business synergy stems directly from people not being in the right roles or that you have specific strengths missing from the fold. These gaps and mismatches lead to several inevitable problems.

The good news is that every single one of these problems is avoidable with the right insights into your team’s natural strengths, weaknesses, and abilities—and aligning those with your business needs. When you do that, you can circumvent the following four pitfalls.

When employees are in the wrong roles…

Hiring becomes ineffective. Based on our research, there’s a 57% chance you wish you’d had support with talent acquisition and retention over the past year. Hiring can be exhausting, especially if you hire the same way repeatedly, expecting different results. But even more than exhausting, a flawed hiring strategy wastes your time and money—over and over again. (Not fun.)

You can improve results by optimizing your talent. When you know your current employees are in the right roles, you can better assess what skills you need to hire for. “When you plot your team behaviorally, it gives you insight into your team’s strengths and what you’re trying to achieve, which means you can identify gaps holding you back,” says Jackie Dube, the Chief People Officer at The Predictive Index. “Those gaps will be a struggle for your team, but you can avoid them by looking at your next hire to fill them or making an internal hire who fits the needs.”

Of course, to do that, you need a way to gather that data from your candidates…and presently, only 33% of hiring managers say they have objective behavioral and cognitive data on candidates they are interviewing. Some say this is a big mistake, but we say it’s a big opportunity.

Because if you do that—if you use behavioral data in the hiring process—you will get candidates onboarded faster, see them perform better and watch them stay longer. So, by all means, please save your energy (and your money) by optimizing your teams.

Conflict at work sneaks in. You invite conflict into the workplace when you don’t ensure your team members are in the right roles or on the right teams. An increased level of conflict then leads to downturns in productivity, more absenteeism, toxic work environments, and heightened stress levels. (Definitely not fun.)

“When talent isn’t optimized, they’re likely working in stressful environments, and teams can crash into each other like bumper cars,” says Dr. Matt Poepsel, Ph.D., The Predictive Index’s VP of Professional Services and Author of Expand the Circle. “Conflict makes for an even more depleting environment, and it’s simply not energizing to work in a state of conflict.”

How many companies are operating like an amusement park ride? Our recent research found that 40% of HR executives believe stress and/or burnout is a major concern or challenge among employees. As conflict contributes to elevated stress and elevated stress leads to further conflict, it’s a vicious cycle, but it’s one that you can avoid by ensuring the right fit before the conflict can even begin by building more cohesive teams.

Diverse perspectives get lost. It’s well documented that prioritizing diversity can lead to better company cultures and performance. And yet, our research found that 70% of HR executives think they can do better at creating an inclusive environment. One way to do better: optimize your talent to foster more inclusion. Because when you don’t feel a sense of belonging? Also not fun.

Talent-optimized companies inherently ensure that diverse perspectives are heard—rather than lost—by building more inclusive teams and making mindful hires. When this happens, you are setting yourself up for higher rates of innovation and retention, says Dube. “Inclusive culture allows people to show up as they are, and when they’re their true selves at work, they are more creative, innovative, and productive.”

One reason for this is that talent optimization balances out your teams so that there’s a mix of personality traits and other characteristics that differ from the group. According to Dr. Poepsel, this is “a really good thing because it prevents groupthink and overused strengths.”

Employees are less engaged. Imagine a task you actively go out of your way to avoid (think: laundry, excel sheets, washing dishes, etc.) Now imagine what it feels like when you begrudgingly finally have to do that task. Are you engaged? Does it come to you easily? Probably not.That could be a similar experience for your employees if they’re not in the right roles, and certainly won’t result in that discretionary effort most employers hope for.

“If you ask someone to do something that they’re naturally wired to do and that they’re naturally motivated to do, performance and experience will follow suit,” explains Dr. Poepsel. Without employees in the proper role, they may be less engaged and, therefore, more likely to look for engagement elsewhere.

According to Gallup, replacing an employee can cost your company anywhere from one-half to two times the departing employee’s annual salary. Yikes. And yet, this is one more problem that can be avoided when you ensure people are in the right roles or, at the very least, diagnose disengagement to get to the bottom of it.

It doesn’t have to be this way

You do not have to operate with these hazards, and you can avoid them entirely by ensuring your team members are in the right roles before challenges even form. So skip the mismatch by matching your people to the proper roles.

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