What are the possibilities of resorting to demotion in a fair and legally justifiable manner in the workplace?
As a remedy where the “Peter principle” played a role:
In consequence of the “Peter principle” an employee is promoted beyond his/her level of competence. Usually, such promotion happened for all the right reasons and there was no intention to set the employee up for failure. It boiled down to an error of judgement both on the part of the employee and the employer.
The result is that the employee finds himself/herself out of depth and inherently unable to perform as expected in the position he/she was promoted to. Very often, such employee excelled in his/her previous position, since it was a comfort zone, and the requirements of the position were squarely within the employee’s grasp and level of competence.
Invariably, it is as result of the excellent performance of this employee in the former position that the employer decided to “reward” the employee with the promotion, not realising that the employee would not be competent in the next level position. In some cases, it may have been too early or premature to promote the employee, as he/she still lacked readiness.
It may also be that, in some cases, the employee’s competence make-up is such that he/she is simply not cut out for delivering what the next level position requires. Example – The employee may have been an excellent salesperson, shooting the lights out time and again, but when promoted to a managerial position requiring the managing of sales consultants, he/she lacked the supervisory and managerial skills and acumen required by the position.
In these circumstances an agreed demotion to a former position at lower organisation level may be a good remedy, first and foremost for the employee, returning to a comfort zone where he/she can excel again and reap the benefits materially and emotionally of excellent performance. Such agreed demotion will also be beneficial to the employer benefitting from having the correct “jockey” on the “horse” and so enhancing productivity. Agreement to the demotion in these circumstances should be a matter of formality in the circumstances, since it is a sensible alternative to a termination of employment on the basis of incapacity.