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Job Rotation

One of the most common complaints from employees after pay is the absence or lack of job rotation. In meetings, the boss can be seen quite dumbfounded: they can understand grievances related to salary and benefits, however, they do not expect to hear about boredom and stagnation. To those who raise issue of job rotation, the logic goes in this line: “Jobs are supposed to be monotonous and repetitive. Is not it why we are paying you? We are not here to do experiments. Just to please some confused employee, I am not going to put my company in jeopardy.”

Consequently, one of two things happen under this well accepted traditional governance:

1. Acceptance: The employee gets the point that he will be stuck in his current role forever and tries to specialize. This might turn out into a happy-ending or a tragedy as with all decisions. Happy means his current role really cut out of him and the desire for job rotation was a youthful escapade of the mind; happy it did not materialize. Tragedy means the fish wanted to rotate his job from land to sea, to see if that would make him happier, but it never happened; consequently everyday his performance declined with a reminiscence of a past that never occurred where he would have swum in the toughest oceans. Alas, the real life occurrence of these two scenarios, although just a guess, must be around 50/50.

2. Defiance: The employee quits the job to pursue his dream job. Again, there are two possible outcomes of this career move: a happy-ending or a tragedy. Happy here means his hunch was correct: he was not any fish, but a whale. From land to sea, he excelled at his new job. Tragedy means that role change in a new job proved totally incompatible with his personality and now he cannot to go back, stranded in an island where his inflated ego brought him to. 

Less harsh reality
However, it does not have to be this way. With the rise of professional CEO’s, well-read owners, consultants proliferating in the boardrooms and articles like this, we have a more humane, win-win governance. It has new logic goes this way: “They say they want job rotation. Let's give it to them but in a planned way. In the end, we need to do succession planning to replace, we oldies at the top, unless we want to bring in outsiders.”

Job rotation 101
It is a management approach where employees are shifted between two or more assignments or jobs at regular intervals of time in order to expose them to all departments of an organization. It is a pre-planned approach with an objective to test the employee skills and competencies in order to place him or her at the right place. In addition, it reduces the monotony of the job and gives them a wider experience and helps them gain more insights. The process serves the purpose of both the management and the employees. It helps management in discovering the talent of employees and determining what he or she is best at. On the other hand, it gives an individual a chance to explore his or her own interests and gain experience in different fields or operations.

Employee resistance
Sometimes the employees do not see the point in job rotation. For many proactive management boards, selling job rotations to their beneficiaries is a hard sell depending on the average years of tenure. But, it is needed. For example: the guy in HR must be taught that his role is not limited to paperwork and to be the person who handles employee paperwork and personnel files. They should also make themselves engage in other department as well not limiting only in HR department. If the person as an HR guy is provided opportunity to visit the other existing departments for temporary period, he will be able to find out the real problems and they will be able to find out real solutions.

Keys to successful job rotation
Job rotation must start with an end goal. For example, transfer from one position to another every three to five years until say five iterations, until the final settling ground is found, for selected few. For most, however, two iterations would be more than enough. Needless to say, a mentor, internal trainer, or supervisor/trainer should be provided at each step of the job rotation plan.

Authors: Mohan Ojha & Manohar Man Shrestha