Say a data scientist has been hired as a product manager, but not does have the project management or leadership skills required for that role (no prior experience in such roles too). Say this person has poor inter-personal skills. At last, say this person is nevertheless competent as a data scientist.

Would it be recommended to address this competence and social skills issues using facts with this employee and offer him to work as a data analysis only or should one fire him right away? What is the recommended managerial approach? Is demotion a proper approach?

  • but does have the project management or leadership skills required I assume you mean "does not".
    – Flater
    Apr 24, 2018 at 9:53
  • Good luck with this. In previous engagements (not you current guys, you're awesome) I've had to work with a few data scientists that had very poor interpersonal skills, and it got to a point where I had to tell our VP that this person was a roadblock for about half of my assigned projects because they couldn't answer simple questions.
    – Jim Horn
    Apr 24, 2018 at 12:53
  • Flater: You're right, I have fixed the question Apr 24, 2018 at 13:04
  • 3
    umm, why not train them?
    – bharal
    Apr 24, 2018 at 15:03

2 Answers 2


Given this sounds like a particularly spectacular failure in the hiring process I'd suggest that the only reasonable course of action would be to have a conversation with the new employee and see if a suitable plan can be worked out between them and the company.

Explain that you don't think they are going to work out in the position they have been hired to do and talk about the possibility of moving them to a Data Analysis role (if such a position is available - don't go around putting that sort of offer on the table without knowing that it exists!). If at all possible I strongly recommend avoiding using the word "demotion", it has significant negative connotations and is unlikely to result in any productive dialogue. Instead talk about it as a "move" or a "transfer", if it offers less money then the PM role then obviously you need to mention that but do so sympathetically.

There's the very real possibility that the employee doesn't want a Data Analysis role (they did after all apply for a PM role) and if they don't then you can talk about the fact that they will have to leave.

The key thing here is to involve them in the process, don't just dictate to them "you're a crap PM, so you're a Data Analyst now and here's your reduced paycheck" that sort of thing. Because doing so will likely result in a hugely demotivated and possibly disgruntled employee and that serves nobody.


The first question would be why this person was hired to do a job they have no experience doing, and limited skills to cope with? Presumably, they were interviewed and deemed competent?

As for whether they could be offered more appropriate work, again that would surely depend on whether such a role exists within the company? Even if it does, they may not require the extra employee and might not have the budget to pay for them.

It sounds to me either like the person has been hired through a very poor recruitment process, and if they aren't competent at the job they should be let go - that's what probation periods are typically for at the start of any job, to make it easy to get rid of people who don't prove suitable for the role. However, if by chance a more suitable role does exist within the organisation and the person is keen to fill it, why not move them and save the extra recruitment cost of filling the other role and letting a potentially capable person go elsewhere.

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