The question of the day: is it a wise decision for a manager to block, or prevent, a worker from making a job move within the organization? This can be answered from different perspectives, both pro and con. But the real question is, what is the long-term effect this will have on the worker in question, the department they work in, and the relationship between them and their manager.
I guess to start off, why would a manager want to prevent a worker from making a change, whether that is a lateral move to another job function or by promotion. I can see several sides:
- the employee is not ready for the move, particularly upward and the boss does not want to see them fail
- the move comes as a surprise and would be a disruption to the workflow until a replacement is found
- the employee is valuable to the team and the loss could be devastating
- the boss has something new in mind for the employee
- the boss is Machiavellian and does not want to see anyone else succeed, or takes the loss personally
No matter what the reason, it’s important to look at what is leading a move by the employee. Are they happy with the work and/or their boss; have they become bored in their work; do they not see any forward movement in their career path; do they feel valued and compensated well. Finding these answers can determine how to handle this.
Having a sit-down talk with the employee to hear these answers could go a long way to turning things around so they don’t leave. If they are valuable or you have a new opportunity for them, show them what this new function would like and when it would happen to see if they are willing to reconsider their decision. If you don’t want them leaving now, negotiate a time for them to stay while you hire; this could make them miss their window of opportunity with the new job so be prepared.
If it’s for selfish reasons, there is no solution and the leader needs to look at their motives as well as the eventual outcome: the employee will leave. Turnover will be inevitable, along with poor performance until that happens; as the saying goes: ‘cutting your nose off to spite your face.’ Short-term decisions don’t always lead to long-term solutions.
What would be the worst that would happen if a manager did allow the employee to leave? Perhaps a gap during the hiring process, although this could allow another to shine thereby having work operations continue to flow. The employee would leave on a good note, which is good for the relationship, for the team, and for the organization as a whole. Letting someone who does not want to be there move on is a win-win all around. Start planning (always have a contingency plan in place) and send them off with your blessing – it’s the right thing to do.
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