The Dark Side of the Underutilized Employee – Fire them or promote them?

By Michelle Malay Carter on November 13, 2009 

Attitude Problems because I\'m UnderutilizedWhat to Do About Attitude Problems
One of my most popular articles is What To Do About Attitude Problems?? Promote them!? This article explores the negative behaviors a manager might experience not because an employee is unqualified for a job, but because she is cognitively overqualified.?

As I’ve said before, high capability does not always mean high performance, especially when an employee is bored and mismatched to his role.? Some of a manager’s biggest problems come from those who could do the role but don’t, won’t, or make everyone miserable in the process!? Unfortunately, organization’s frequently show their young, high potentials to the door, rather than harnessing their capability for the organization’s benefit.

A Managerial Leadership Diagnosis Tool
When we conduct Talent Pool Evaluations for clients, managers really appreciate being given a diagnostic list of behaviors – both positive and negative – that they might observe in an underutilized employee.? PeopleFit research shows about 20% of employees are underutilized and could be handling higher level roles.

This post is the first in a series of 4 diagnostic lists.??In this series, we’ll?explore:

  1. Possible Negative Manifest Behaviors of an Underutilized Employee
  2. Possible Positive Manifest Behaviors of an Underutilized Employee
  3. Possible Negative Manifest Behaviors of an Over committed Employee (not yet cognitively capable of the work level required of the role)
  4. Possible Positive Manifest Behaviors of an Over committed Employee

Read over the list and let me know if it holds true to your experience.? Does it shed light on a current situation?? Is this you?

Negative Behaviors a Manager Might Observe in an Under Utilized Employee

I’m OK.? You’re OK.? Let’s fix the system.

Image credit to Despair Inc.? This poster is available for purchase.

Filed Under Employee Engagement, High Potential, Managerial Leadership, Requisite Organization, Talent Management, Work Levels


3 Responses to “The Dark Side of the Underutilized Employee – Fire them or promote them?”

  1. Sam on January 4th, 2010 12:37 pm

    Any remedies for this?

  2. Michelle Malay Carter on January 4th, 2010 8:43 pm

    Hi Sam,

    Thanks for stopping by and for the comment. The remedy is to correctly diagnose the situation. If the person is more capable than the role, it’s time to prepare them to take a higher level role. If not, they will likely begin to look for one outside the organization.



  3. jon on October 20th, 2014 10:10 am

    I do my best to avoid the negative behaviors listed. Nonetheless, I am bored silly. My employer has advised me to look for more challenging work and I am doing so. Still most employers out there seem to want to underutilize me.

    Why do employers want so little from their employees?