Demotion – It’s Bad For a Corporate Culture

The corporate culture in small business is tough when there are problems. At a big place, you can hide from someone for weeks, then say you have just been busy. When you have a dozen people or so, everyone knows what is going on, and it is hard to avoid someone that you aren't getting along with.

I demoted an employee last week. Yes, the problem employee (for those of you who keep up with all of this). He was given a few days to think about how he wanted this presented to the group (we gave him the opportunity to save some face) and just before it was he told us he had another job. That is how we presented it to the group, even though everyone knows there have been problems. We are looking for someone to replace him, and have some good leads, but morale seems to suck right now. The problem guy leaves in two weeks. I think I am going to let the problem fester until then. Once he is gone, I will present the group with an opportunity for a new beginning. I don't know if this will work but it is the best approach I have so far.

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I thought he may accept the demotion if it was presented in the right way. But I guess that doesn't happen very often. In a small business, everyone knows what is really going on anyway. Firing should have been the answer. I hoped he would learn and eventually succeed. Of course, he blames everyone but himself, which should tell you pretty quickly what kind of person he is. It will probably all work out in the end but it has taught me a valuable lesson: small business culture is very fragile. I think that makes it all the more important to find someone who is a good match with the rest of the team. Next time around I'll worry less about education and experience and more about attitude.