WHEN I started my first job as an apprentice engineer, I quickly realised that some of my fellow apprentices should not be working there. They just did not have the aptitude or ability for engineering.

Back in those days, staff selection was not very sophisticated and then, apprentice engineers were interviewed by a foreman. And it was not hard getting the job if he liked how you looked.

I was lucky enough to be interviewed by a foreman who was a captain in the Boys Brigade. Coincidentally, so was I. In the end, he gave me the job. Like me, both my fellow apprentices were not tested on our abilities or suitability to the profession.

As a result, many engineering apprentices were in the wrong jobs. Though most of them soldiered on and qualified as time-served engineers, they did not excel. They were also not particularly happy either.

And from customer service personnel to plumbers, I have met many who are in the wrong professions.

Fire or reshuffle

The lesson is that if someone in your team is unable to do the job, then you need to transfer him elsewhere, advise or help him to find other employment.

This may seem harsh as it is not always easy to let employees go. However, you will never achieve your desired outcomes with the wrong person in the job.

The business may suffer and you are in great danger of demotivating other team members. It is likely that they do not want someone who is incompetent on their team.

For instance, a client of mine realised that the customer service officer in his company he recently employed could not handle the pressure of dealing difficult customers and situation and that no amount of training could solve the problem.

In the end, they transferred her to a position where she produced quotations and did not have to speak to a customer.

What you need to do is get people who cannot do the job into a position that they are capable of or simply get them out of your team.

I joined three companies as a manager and in all three situations, I inherited team members who did not have what it takes to do the job.

The usual suspects

I usually classify workers into three categories. The first group is made up of the "good guys" - the ones I know who can do the job and not give me any trouble.

The second group consists of people who need a fair bit of coaching and some supervision.

The third group are those who do not possess either the skills or the aptitude to complete their tasks at hand. No amount of training can change their lack of capacity.

I also found that employees in this category are usually dissatisfied with their present situations because of the lack of success. Sometimes, they are more than happy to be transferred to another position.

This may sound easier said than done. But the motivational manager needs to address these issues and bite the bullet for the good of the team and the business.