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Having a frustrating time training my replacement

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Question: I was promoted recently and am responsible for training my replacement, a transfer from another department. I was the first person to fill this position, so all of the processes are ones that I created. The documents handled in this department are very sensitive and become legal documents.

This person was hired without my input and while the supervisor of the department was out of the country. We were informed rather than asked about these changes by upper management.

My replacement has very little Word or PowerPoint experience, and almost no Excel experience. The position prepares PowerPoint presentations for the corporate officers and board of directors, as well as for international branches of the company.

My frustration stems from the fact that she thinks she knows so much more than she does and doesn’t ask questions; she assumes she knows what she is doing. I have prepared instruction books and step-by-step manuals for her to walk her through the processes, but she won’t use them. I have asked her what I can do to help her; she acknowledges that she isn’t using the tools she has. I have suggested that, in her slower time, she play in her software programs and learn them. She has label-making down pat, and her files are beautiful, but she still doesn’t know how to work her scanner. (Yes, I have gone over it with her ... more than once.)

She has been working in this department now for six weeks and is still making the same mistakes she made the first week. Her supervisor is out of town frequently, and it's up to me to "teach" her. I've been keeping a log of things we go over each day and problems that arise and have gone over this with her supervisor. He is currently back in town for a while and wants to start throwing things at her to see how she deals with it. He's still asking me to help him out.

I am very busy in my new department and really don’t have time to do my job and hers. I'm getting to the point that I just want to watch her sink on her own but still feel very responsible for the documents that are being sent out. I don’t feel comfortable going to upper management, since her supervisor is taking a wait-and-see attitude, but it’s killing me to see what she's sending out.

Has anyone else dealt with a situation like this? Any advice at all would be appreciated!  -- Pam from Oregon


Let it go! She's not going to learn anything as long as you're there to fix her mistakes.

I've been in your shoes; I've felt the same type of department/position loyalty and suffered for nearly a year because of that loyalty. There is a common saying I now live by....Sink or Swim. Let her go the way of the Titanic!

I agree with Tiffany. It's hard to let go, especially after you pretty much birthed and raised that position into what it is, but you've given your replacement all the tools to complete the job. Instead of going over things with her everyday, meet once a week for a while and she can ask her questions. Let her do the asking - Put the ball in her court! She'll either crumble under the pressure when she keeps doing things wrong and get fired or quit or she'll break down and start asking for help! Hopefully it's the latter.

I agree with the others. You have done everything you can to make the transition as smooth as possible. You can't keep doing her job and your new job at the same time. It's time to let go (I know, it's easier said than done!).

I have had the same problem with letting things go, especially if others don't seem to be doing things as well as I would have. Keep reminding yourself that you've done everything you could, short of doing the job yourself. She will truly sink or swim on her own.

It's her responsibility now, not yours. Let it go and master your own new position. If she fails then she fails, it's no longer your responsibility. I finally had to learn that one after about a year when someone (internal) took over my previous position after I was promoted. I had the darndest time concentrating on my new job because I was so busy answering all of her questions for the billionth time. Your loyalty is to your employeer, not your former position. Hang in there!

Pam....I agree with every comment. You have done your job and you have done more than what a lot of persons in your position would have done. You need to cut the apron string of your former position and wrap the apron string around your current position. You have documentation and you have gone beyond the call of duty. Now, detach yourself from your former position and move on. Your replacement work is a reflection of her and NOT you. And look at it this way, she was hired within your input any ways, so now you have to prove yourself in your new position just as your replacement has to proof herself.

I agree with Holly. I have been in your position and speak from experience. You have done a superior job in training her and providing her with all of the resources and tools she needs. Offer to meet with her once a week for a while and then cut her loose completely. This will not only allow her to shine or not but, will set the presidence that you are not there waiting in the shadows to bale her out. It is very hard to let go. But, you must and you will be glad you did further down the road.

I agree with meeting with her on a weekly basis and for an additional reasonable amount of time. Keep notes of what you discuss and then type them up and have her sign that what was discussed in the meeting is correct. She should be given a copy. IF she continues to bug you, in a polite way ask her to review her notes. You will then have something to show at such time you are asked "did you show her this, did you tell her that?" by management when she continues her errors.

I know what you're going through. You take pride in doing exceptionally in whatever task or job you are placed in. Therefore, take pride now in doing exceptional in the new position - don't let management down with this. You need to realize you've done everything you should and could to train your replacement. But think about it, you're neither doing one or the other right if you continue to fret about what she's not doing. Like the others said: "It's her responsibility now." You need to take charge of your own responsibility in your new position. Don't worry, I've dealt with the type and they usually realize they still need help and ask for it (eventually!) If it makes you feel better, use the "C-Y-A" (cover your...), write her an email letting her know that you've given her all the training, books, procedures, etc.; but should she have any additional questions or doubt to let you know.

I like the idea of meeting with her once a week. Have her keep track, by making a list, of her questions and email them to you the day before your meeting, answer as many as you can via email. Each week that you meet with her you she should be asking fewer questions. Keep those emails as you may need to help train her replacement, if she sinks. Plus, those emails will be a great "paper trail" to prove that you have tried your best to train her well.

Good Morning:

Its obvious they did not think much of you and your boss by hiring without notifying you. They probably hired her based on the fact that she is internal, but that does not mean anything as you've mentioned what this position requires and what she actually can do. *Maybe they did not want the reponsibility of this and know you have it* I would give her the instrucion as you have via the materials you prepared and if she is qualified and capable she will swim; I would take notes relative to a new hire if needed as mentioned in the other comments. Have you had a chance to review her resume to see just how qualified she is. I would ensure I've done everything to provide the necessary instruction and communicate everything in email to verify that you have done what was expected and beyond to make this a success without jeopardizing your new role.

I'm sorry to say it...but I think you've done enough and it's "sink or swim" time for her. I know it's hard for you to let go when you've always done a fine job and have taken pride in the work that left your department...but what more can you do?? If you keep bailing her out...they will never know she really isn't applying herself the way she needs to. I wish someone had left me help manuals when I took the position I have. I would have been grateful. It doesn't sound as if she is. Perhaps it's time they found out exactly what she knows and what she doesn't. You need to make your way through the new position you have and let your new superiors see how lucky they are to have you now. Do the best you know how...where you are. Let the others know you really can't spend anymore time away from your own desk and responsibilities. Good luck and God bless!

One additional suggestion is to talk to your new supervisor and let him know how much time you have spent training this new person, you feel you have given her all she needs to do the job, and could he/she possibly intervene by telling the old supervisor that you are no longer available to train the new person. You are needed in your new role.

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