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June 21, 2022

How to demote a foreman and what to expect


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How to demote a foreman and what to expect

As a business owner, one of your core responsibilities is making sure your workforce is happy, satisfied, challenged enough, and they also help grow the business. It’s not uncommon to have a few employees that you need to have some difficult discussions with, and this may be a little daunting. No one wants to make their employees feel unappreciated or sad, but some conversations need to be had. 

Demoting one of your workers is something no business owner wants to do. You’ve promoted them for a reason, after all, right? Well, sometimes not everything works as you had hoped. Your best worker, whom you’ve promoted to manager, just seems always stressed and keeps making mistakes. You can tell that they’re not as happy as they once were, but when you ask what the problem is you get the same answer - “Nothing”.A reason for not expressing their dissatisfaction could be that they’re worried you might not need them anymore, or that they don’t want to let you down. But if you start to notice that they’re not doing their job well, they’re not happy and they’re constantly slipping up, then it’s time for you to make a decision. It might be better to demote this worker and hire someone more organized, pays more attention to details, and is capable of leading a team. 

Sometimes the people you are looking for are younger than your workers, and there is always the stigma around the idea of “out with the old and in with the new”. But if your older workers are simply not cut out for the managerial position, it’s better to start making changes that will benefit your company and keep your worker satisfied. 

Not sure how to do that? We’ve compiled a few tips to help you make the process of demoting a foreman less stressful. 

When demoting a foreman, you can:

Make a decision and be firm about it

Caring about how your employees take bad news is not a bad trait to have, but you should remember that you are the leader and you make tough decisions frequently. When you decide to demote a foreman and offer the position to someone new (or even younger), you should be firm in your decision and make it clear that these adjustments are for the betterment of both the employees and the business. A good way to start is to have both your current foreman and the new employee present and let them know how it is. Especially if you’re sure that the new employee will be a huge benefit to your company, put them in charge and don’t look back. Reassure your former foreman that you need them, and make the roles of the position clear to the new foreman. Although this can be a little awkward and stressful, if you are firm about your decision, your employees will respect it.

Be understanding and empathetic

Demoting an employee is not easy for any business owner, but it’s also especially difficult for the employee to hear. When breaking the news to them, it’s important to be understanding and empathetic to their situation. Know that they are probably feeling that they let you down somehow or are not good enough for the job, and are also afraid of their future. Many employees rely on their jobs to pay bills and mortgages and provide for their families. Trying to put yourself in their shoes will make the situation a little easier. 

You can also try to be understanding of their current working schedule and responsibilities. For some employees, working on one job and running another job across town can be an extremely difficult task. As business owners, it is expected that you are always running around and taking care of tasks. But as an employee, it is a lot of extra work that they aren't reaping any real benefit from. In some cases, employees who are used to working out in the field and feel comfortable in their position don’t always measure up to the responsibilities placed upon them. They also probably wonder why they were ever put in that position in the first place, and extra pay may not even motivate them. This is why it’s important for business owners to fully grasp the weight of the situation and how the employee might be feeling. It will make them feel heard and reassured that they’re not fired, only going back to what they were doing before.

Foreground the foreman’s skills

While your foreman may not be good at organizing and leading a team, that doesn’t mean that they aren’t a good worker. When demoting a foreman, it’s important to highlight this fact and make it clear that you need their trade skills more than their organizational ones. Tell them that you want them to do what they’re good at and that you believe that they will be the happiest in their older position. You’ll take a lot of weight off their shoulders since they won’t be responsible for a whole team, but only the tasks assigned to them. Some even suggest keeping it short and sweet, without going into too much detail. Say something like “We need your skills for X purpose, and we know you’ll be great there”. 

Offer the same salary

For many employees, their salary may be the reason why they’re afraid to step down. This is where you can make a quick and easy change that won’t anger or sadden anyone. Offering the same salary may be a great motivator for your foreman to go back to being a field workers and doing what they’re best at. Salaries are one of the most important aspects of a job to employees. So if you’re making sure that your employees are well compensated, then they can focus on delivering 100% on their tasks every day. 

Look for the best time

Another suggestion to make the process of demoting someone is to find the right time to do it. Employees should be aware and expect that the boss evaluates everything and everyone regularly. One of the best times to make internal changes is at the beginning of a quarter or a new year. Especially the beginning of the year symbolizes a fresh start and new ways to improve. You can start the year by saying, “We’re changing some things going forward. Here are everyone's new roles, expectations, pay, etc.." 

Have a positive attitude and show support

And lastly, maintain a positive attitude and support your employees before, during, and after their new roles. It’s important to keep a positive work environment and show everyone that you appreciate the work they’re doing. Make it clear that you’re available to talk about any potential issues or feelings that employees have. You can even start the new day by buying your team coffee at 9:00 to bolster morale and check in with the new lead. You’d be surprised to find out that in many cases everybody would be quite happy and their new roles would be going well.

Whenever you decide to demote a foreman, be sure to gently put that person back where they belong, but also reward their efforts financially so they are cool with staying there. Also, don’t forget that as a business owner, it’s important for you to make these tough decisions, as your business’s success and growth depend on it. If you don't make adjustments, you're not doing anybody any favors. So when you see that other employees have skills that are better suited to manage a team and projects, then promote them to managerial positions. But in the end, always be positive, kind, and understanding towards your employees, they’ll greatly appreciate it.

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