Dr Marlet Tromp

When things just don’t fit

The most obvious way to find the “right person for the job” is to have a proper job description, right?


It seems that this common-sense approach to recruiting may be the single biggest obstacle to hiring the best person for a job, say Todd Rose and Ogi Ogas, authors of ‘The End of Average’, in an article published by Fortune Magazine.

The reason for this is that most of these job descriptions are rooted in a flawed and obsolete way of thinking about employees.

“That is, they look at candidates as averages instead of individuals.” It all began in the 19th century when the notion of an “average man” came about and people were typecast – a soldier type; administrative type; or accounting type, for example.

“It steers attention away from what is relevant and informative about an individual candidate,” they say.

During the recruitment process, the consequence is often that new employees either feel they are not really the right fit for a job, or they may feel they have been misled about what a specific job entails.

When the fit is not right 

It has been said that one of the reasons for presenteeism (where employees are present at work but underperform), is that individuals feel misplaced in an organisation – they have the skills, can do the job, but the role just does not fit them as they thought it would.

One then has to listen to the energy in your body, says Aviva Baran-Rothschild, coach, facilitator and founder of Fields of Change.

If you are feeling sluggish or feel that there is no spark in what you are doing, or you are feeling bored and tire easily, it may be a sign that you are not in the right place.

Another sign that you might be in the wrong job is if you find yourself questioning yourself and often experience an internal conflict:

You know that you currently have a good job, but you still feel envious of other people who are happier than you.

“A lot of people avoid thinking about it,” says Baran-Rothschild, “and because of this internal battle they procrastinate.”

This can result in individuals losing confidence in their ability.

They start doubting themselves because they have not taken the time to get clarity about their strengths.

Many people become complacent or start minimising their strengths.

It is, of course, normal to feel insecure when you start a new job.

“A new job can be stressful, and you should allow sufficient time to find your feet and to make sure you get to grips with what the job requires of you before going to the boss,” says Marlet Tromp, life, executive and business coach.

Tromp says it is critical for individuals first to be honest with themselves. When doubting your new job, ask these questions:

- Are you sure you are not simply overwhelmed by what is expected of you?

- Did you misunderstand your responsibilities?

- Did you allow yourself enough time to adjust?

It is not what you were promised

In some instances, a new job simply does not live up to what it promised to be, and the individual feels misled.

If not dealt with, it can lead to disengagement and someone just giving up.

This is a good time to prepare for that talk with the boss, says Tromp.

“You should be assertive, without being aggressive. The focus should be on what you do compared to what has been promised to you.

Show your willingness to seek a workable solution.”

One of the solutions is to stay in the post while the two of you work towards what you were promised and work on how it can be realised.

As a last resort the employee may wish to seek legal advice in terms of their rights and to establish how the labour law can protect them.

“However, you have to be convinced that this is the route to follow as it can be emotionally draining,” warns Tromp.

In the end, one needs to hold on to a little bit of hope that if you do something differently and you think about things differently, something positive will come out of it, says Baran-Rothschild.

The conversation

It may be difficult to have a conversation on the matter with your boss, especially if you feel they will not tolerate mistakes, or that they don’t “do” vulnerability and expect you to jump in and get the job done, says Baran-Rothschild.

However, it is important to have the conversation.

“Ask the questions: what is my role, what are my resources, what is the deadline, what is the priority and how much support is on offer?”

Often it could be that the expectations are not clear, or a project has not been spelled out clearly in terms of role clarifications and expectations.

It might not be necessary to completely change jobs or roles.

If you can have an authentic conversation with your boss, hopefully they will be willing to listen and to find a better fit for you and the organisation.

Most importantly, says Baran-Rothschild, don’t wait too long before having the conversation or seeking help.

When you’re the boss

Should an employee approach their manager with concerns about their role within the organisation, the manager:

1. Needs to show care – show a bit of vulnerability to share how things were when you started.

It builds trust and makes it easier for staff to ask for help;

2. Needs to create a safe space where people can share their vulnerabilities and to look at mistakes in a positive way;

3. Needs to be the role model – show that you believe in a work/life balance;

4. Needs to show some flexibility – allow people to achieve the results you want in their own way; and

5. If there are mentoring and coaching facilities or skills development opportunities, offer that to employees to show you are supporting them.