How do I train my replacement?
August 5, 2021 4:49 AM   Subscribe

I am preparing to transfer from my current role to another part of a very large company. Never having trained my own replacement for a job, I am trying to strike the right balance between thoroughness and professionalism / not simply handing this person everything I've worked on in such a way that they'll be able to take full credit for things I actually built or initiated. Am I being too selfish and paranoid?

I posted this Ask back in February about my boss trying to get me canned/blamed for a project failure which had been largely beyond my control. After a pretty excruciating period of conflict (which for Reasons I cannot describe publicly), I obtained a transfer to another department which, while separate, does frequently collaborate with my current one. (So, no cut-and-run possible even if I wanted to do so.)

I am ambivalent about the move in terms of prestige/visibility, but the director of my future dept has an excellent reputation amongst their staff, the team is pretty decent, and the job responsibilities are (supposedly...) closer to what I've been wanting to do the past few years anyhow--so I'm trying to go in with a good, albeit extremely cautious, attitude. I also of course need to handle the transition in a professional way, since I will still be working with/around many of my current colleagues, and my new boss would naturally look askance at any failing on this point.

Meanwhile I need to prep the upcoming handoff to my replacement, who is arriving from outside the company. I have been asked to provide:
- An inventory of all my tasks and responsibilities (yup sure OK)
- A copy of my hard drive with all files clearly organized, as well as a guide to same (...kind of A Lot considering all our work is also on the shared internal server, but fine)
- List and status of projects currently underway (yup OK)
- "any tools", which is pretty vague

Since I've been here for a while, even the first 3 items represent a significant volume of documents and a lot of prep time. I'm also unsure about what level of detail and what kinds of documents to provide for the "tools" part. Obviously all deliverables need to be included since they are company property, but do I need to hand off the things I've created for personal use like spreadsheets, reference guides, templates? (For example, I have an enormous spreadsheet that I built to track key info on various subsidiaries, created on my own initiative and updated manually every month in order to have a "cheat sheet" to pull from for meetings, case studies etc.) I built my position--as complex and heterogeneous as it is--from scratch, and therefore inherited virtually nothing when I came in; this stuff represents a lot of overtime spent compiling, organizing and formulating, and a lot of trial and error I paid for in stress and sometimes political capital (requesting help/guidance from more experienced and very busy colleagues, for example).

I want to be an ethical professional and also use this as an opportunity to formally document all the shit I've done for this department over the past several years. What I'm trying to have come through, is that I carried out the "build" phase for this position, with its attendant growing pains and iterative phases, whereas this person is coming in just as we're starting "run", if that makes sense.

However, if my frankly awful experience over the past year has taught me anything, it's that I have got to be a hell of a lot more ruthless about covering my ass and navigating corporate politics. So I don't want to shoot myself in the foot by just handing my successor the keys to the kingdom, thereby making him look awesome at my expense ("look how quickly he settled into the role/how many projects he guided to completion/how well he grasped X compared to TinyChicken!"). He'll already be getting a significant leg up by being trained by a predecessor, which I never was (no one's fault since the role was new, but yeah). I'm also a (cis) woman being replaced by a straight white cis man, so I will already be suffering by comparison straight out of the gate in terms of credibility, likeability, etc., and while I know this is inevitable it pisses me off.

I bear this dude no ill will on an interpersonal level, and genuinely don't want to "sabotage" my department or anything. Where do I draw the line between "proving I was productive and added a hell of a lot of value" and "making myself look like a fool (and like my boss's accusations of ineptitude were correct) by handing this guy everything on a platter"?

A big thanks in advance for any insight anyone would care to offer.
posted by TinyChicken to Work & Money (32 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
I think if people know that you have a built that spreadsheet, then they will for sure expect you to hand it over to the person you're training. Not doing so will probably reflect badly on you. It's possible that he could claim it is his own work, although everyone I have worked with who has inherited things like that has given credit where due whenever asked about it.

My starting point is that everything that you have created on company time belongs to them and should be handed over to the next person. I will keep copies of useful tools and templates for myself (particularly if I have created them). But it's been a long time since I was in the kind of position you are in, and to be honest it was always political capital (mine and my effective patrons') rather than my own skills and products which helped me the most in those situations.
posted by plonkee at 5:31 AM on August 5, 2021 [5 favorites]

I think giving exactly what's asked for, in terms of general tools that are necessary to do the job, is reasonable. Your personal tools (cheat sheets, notes, workarounds) are your personal work tools, and while they may be very useful to the way you work, they're set up specifically for your own work style, so I would exclude those from the handoff.

A list of what you do, the copy of the hard drive, with work-necessary detail, and some overview of what the job looks like are pretty much what I'd leave behind.
posted by xingcat at 5:32 AM on August 5, 2021 [5 favorites]

I wouldn't provide this person any tools that I had created for personal use unless I was specifically asked, by name, for a particular tool someone knew I had. I wouldn't share your personal spreadsheets, or reference guides, or templates. Points A-C is plenty for you to do. You'll have plenty of work creating these things in your new position.
posted by shadygrove at 5:34 AM on August 5, 2021 [3 favorites]

If working for this place makes the following statement sound reasonable - “I should sabotage the ability of my replacement to do his job well because if I train him poorly it will make me look better in retrospect” - then you should start looking for a different job someplace sane. I get the concern, but that is what you’re asking here.
posted by showbiz_liz at 5:36 AM on August 5, 2021 [37 favorites]

Best answer: >Where do I draw the line between "proving I was productive and added a hell of a lot of value" and "making myself look like a fool (and like my boss's accusations of ineptitude were correct) by handing this guy everything on a platter"?

This question resonates because it’s something I’ve struggled with myself. And for me, my concept of my value at work is just as shaped by my own internalized messages I picked up from my family of origin and society along the way, as much as external work expectations, which also may be unreasonable in some cases. So first, I would challenge if this is where the line needs to be drawn to begin with. Do you really have to prove yourself to anyone in this situation? Or do you make yourself available to answer the new guy’s targeted questions about the work during your transition period? Will you choose to be on-call as his personal assistant, or will you focus on your own work and set his expectations for when you will be available to him—say, a quick daily check-in at 9am and then between 3:30 and 4pm (or whatever) where he can ask his saved up questions? You decide how much of yourself you are willing to give.

Q: Tell me everything. A. Sure! What specifically would you like to know?

Q. Give me everything. A. Sure! Tell me about what you’d like to achieve.

Agreed that your own productivity hacks are yours. I disagree that OP is asking for justification to sabotage their replacement.
posted by sunrise kingdom at 5:39 AM on August 5, 2021 [4 favorites]

Anecdote: A few years ago I took a role at a community college. On my first day I walked into an empty office that had been occupied by my predecessor (Monica), who took another job on campus. No files, no project notebooks. My only assets were on a blue portable hard drive, which was organized by (1) the person who had worked on the project, none of whom were still there, then (2) whatever fuckall name that person had decided to call the project (my favorite was "Postcards for Susan"), then (3) full of every draft file, every "final" file (jesus christ, so many) and lots of utter nonsense. Then, I was informed that a major deadline-driven project hadn't been started yet because Monica had been working on transitioning into her new role.

I lasted nine months there. During that time, Monica was absolutely no help and enjoyed telling her campus network that there hadn't been any issues when she was in the role, so it obviously was my lack of organizational and leadership skills.

Don't be Monica. Do for your successor what you would want done for you.
posted by Sweetie Darling at 5:40 AM on August 5, 2021 [8 favorites]

Best answer: Where do I draw the line between "proving I was productive and added a hell of a lot of value" and "making myself look like a fool (and like my boss's accusations of ineptitude were correct) by handing this guy everything on a platter"?

I think this framing is actually backwards. I think there is a good chance you will look more inept if you don't give your successor everything he needs to be truly effective in the role (New guy: "I had to create everything from scratch! What was TinyChicken even doing?"). I think that by actually documenting and providing the processes and tools that you helped create (even though this is more work), you will actually have a better chance of proving that you added a hell of a lot of value.

This is predicated on the assumption that you aren't just giving these things to new person directly, but that you are looping in or going through your old boss or other colleagues.
posted by AndrewInDC at 5:42 AM on August 5, 2021 [30 favorites]

In a functional workplace you get credit for helping your replacement get up to speed quickly. It doesn't sound like you have any confidence that that will be the case.

If your read on the level of dysfunction at this place is accurate, I don't think it much matters what you do, you're screwed either way and you need to leave. But if it turns out you aren't actually working in a bucket of crabs (e.g. if maybe you've held over that mentality from previous experiences - it happens!), you could actually benefit a lot from passing your helpful materials on to your successor and setting him up for success.

(Also if you created these tools on company time as part of your job, they probably are company property, legally-speaking.)
posted by mskyle at 5:51 AM on August 5, 2021 [3 favorites]

The dynamics at your workplace are clearly screwy, so take this advice with a huge grain of salt, but in my work world it would reflect far more poorly on you to train your successor in a mediocre way / leave them without resources you could easily pass on to them, than it would to set them up for success.

It definitely makes sense to prioritize documenting shared tools/processes, but if you find that when that's done you still have time to document and/or hand over some of your personal reference guides, templates, etc., I would do so. I'd expect that to reflect well on you both right away when you send ex-boss/ex-team a list of all the things you've trained/shared, and in the long run when your replacement can be effusive about how much your work made their startup easier, vs. the long run where they're flailing and getting off to a bad start because they don't have a resource it would have taken you no time to share with them.

That does assume that your personal stuff would be easily used or adapted by someone else. If it's *so* personalized that it really only makes sense in your head / with your work style then that's not an existing useful resource and there's no need for you to spend your remaining time turning it into one.
posted by Stacey at 5:53 AM on August 5, 2021 [2 favorites]

I've been in a kind of similar situation. I documented everything except my own personal hacks/cheat sheets that probably wouldn't be much use to anyone else anyway. I mentioned which tools I'd created, where the "master copies" were stored and documented things like "should the process X change then this will need to be updated and I'll be able to advise" - this was for a new role in the same company.

I then emailed this to everyone that might possibly need it, as the new hire/their manager etc might leave/be off ill etc... I actually think this got me more recognition than I already had.
posted by chr at 5:54 AM on August 5, 2021 [9 favorites]

I would give everything listed except personal spreadsheets, shortcuts and references, simply because these kind of things only ever really make sense to the person who compiled them for their own use. Your own personal shortcuts and abbreviations for you probably won’t be helpful to someone else - they’ll have to figure out how they work best within the system and navigate their way to develop their own systems etc.

You may just end up confusing them but what you can say is that if they get really stuck they’re welcome to contact you from time to time.
posted by Jubey at 5:58 AM on August 5, 2021 [2 favorites]

I think you can make *yourself* look better by graciously handing over whatever documents etc. will help your replacement be successful.

My deal at work is that I often do certain types of work for a while - until I've made the process stable and accurate and efficient - then I hand over that work to someone else. I document everything I do, including the tools, cheatsheets, etc. that I've created (fully annotated so anyone with smarts and/or training can make use of them!). And in my early years, that was a huge part of my advancement. My company understood that my value was not in my "secret information," it was in my intelligence, and the ability to get the job done well and help *other* people get the job done well if I got promoted or hit by a bus. If you need "secrets" to win at work you need to change your attitude or work somewhere else with reasonable people (and it FOR SURE could be #2), it's just no way to go to work every day.

One thing I WOULD do is make a high-level summary doc of everything you've handed over, and schedule a meeting with your outgoing boss to review so she knows what information and tools the new hire will have at his disposal. In addition to what they explicitly asked for, include a list of major projects with a status note and important contacts/files/deadlines, and a list of the documents you created. You can even go over the documents briefly with your boss - "I realized you might not be aware of these important files I use, let me give you a quick tour so you have some context if Bill asks about them."

Now, I don't pretend that all employers operate the same, and it's totally possible you won't get the full "credit" you're due, but so be it. You'll have behaved ethically and with the company's best interest in mind, which is after all what they're paying you for. You also don't know where this may pay dividends down the road - maybe your replacement will be in a position to hire YOU some day and will remember the impeccable work handoff and say "we MUST hire TinyChicken, she is capable and conscientious and clearly very good at her job."

Oh, and on preview, since people are saying that person cheat sheets are often only helpful to the people who made them - this is the trick! Try to take the next step with those files and make sure that they WILL make sense to someone else. Add comments to indicate where data comes from and/or an SOP doc describing how you fill it out and use it. Being good at your job (by using your self-created tools) makes you look good, but creating and sharing tools that make *multiple* people good at their jobs is so much better.

I sincerely hope that the new department is a better fit, congrats on the new position!
posted by zibra at 6:10 AM on August 5, 2021 [7 favorites]

I have always been a big fan of the wisdom of the saying "If you tell the truth, you don't have to 'remember' anything." Air quotes because it's remember in the sense of keeping one's story straight--in this case, what tools and documentation and so forth you provided, which you didn't, etc.

Just provide them. CYA can be done by using email etc to provide a kind of index, along the lines of:
Hey Replacement,

Hopefully this helps organize the big plate of stuff we've covered the last couple weeks. I've tried to provide the documents and tools for the following points:
1: Documentation set Foo
2: Resource set Bar
3: Kitbashed spreadsheet I put together to ease tracking of TPS Report formating (I_authored_this.xlsx)
4: Etc.

That way you've not deliberately sabotaged the poor replacement in the stressful and baffling opening weeks/months of a brand new role, and if the potentially-paranoid* worry about what if they try to take credit for stuff down the road you have receipts about what stuff is actually from you, to the extent that kind of thing matters**.

* It may well not be, depending on nature of toxic in the department/entire organization. But...
** If it is that kind of toxic, there's not actually any kind of strategizing your way to a "win" that's worth it.
posted by Drastic at 6:15 AM on August 5, 2021 [2 favorites]

I'm a little confused by the concept of not handing absolutely everything to a successor on a silver platter. They are human too! You should want them to be successful!!

Early in my career, the person that hired me from a different department went out of their way to make sure I knew how to do my job. They bent over backwards training and showing me even the littlest things. Not only did that help me be successful, but it made me happy, and it changed who I am as a person.

Every time I've transitioned, I've tried my hardest to help the person behind me be as successful as possible. I stay in contact and contact them on key dates and answer questions about tools and "how I did" something. Presumably your replacement isn't any happier about your old boss than you are, but I'd still go out of my way to A: prepare them and B: set them up for a successful working relationship (don't some seeds of unhappiness, etc). Because why not? What else do you possibly have to lose by helping someone?!
posted by bbqturtle at 6:17 AM on August 5, 2021 [7 favorites]

I believe the right thing to do is share as much you can, so they can perform the role. I think it will make you look good, and not be a negative.

As far as getting credit for your work, it is your accomplishment, and you would capture it on your resume or any discussion of your skills when applicable. ("Created and documented processes" wording).

I don't know the larger issues with your company, but when I worked in a particularly dysfunctional place, there was a co-worker who operated with this mindset--if others look bad, I will look good. It was a terrible situation for the rest of the team, and I strongly encourage you to rethink why you would want to semi-sabotage someone.
Good luck.
posted by rhonzo at 6:25 AM on August 5, 2021 [4 favorites]

You never know if this person will someday become your peer, project lead, or even your boss. My current boss is someone who joined my team 20 years ago and took over some work from me at the time. He later moved to another department and moved up into a position where he could promote me. He knew my skills and work product well enough to know I would do well in my current position. Don't let a crappy work environment make you this suspicious of a brand new person.
posted by soelo at 6:40 AM on August 5, 2021 [5 favorites]

I agree with a lot of the posts in this thread. I know you're in a toxic environment and so the usual advice may not apply. But I also have worked in toxic environments and years down the road, my self-worth (if not my net worth lol) is much more secure for having behaved decently towards those I worked with.
posted by warriorqueen at 6:44 AM on August 5, 2021 [12 favorites]

It is not clear to me how withholding information like your templates, naming conventions and trackers from your successor would ever make you look better. On the contrary, to anybody not enmeshed in this deeply dysfunctional team that kind of ‘act’ makes you look just as dysfunctional.

Clearly prioritise your handover prep in line with the list you were given. But also mention these ‘tools’ to the successor. If they mesh with their style of working they may continue to use them, or, more likely, they’ll use them a few times and then tweak them as they see fit. Or they won’t find them useful or won’t yet understand why it may be useful to maintain them and decide not to use them.
posted by koahiatamadl at 6:52 AM on August 5, 2021 [3 favorites]

But I also have worked in toxic environments and years down the road, my self-worth (if not my net worth lol) is much more secure for having behaved decently towards those I worked with.

Just want to amplify this, for getting at more succintly and clearly than my own garbled footnotes!

Toxic workplaces are toxic because they poison self-worth; they bring out the worst aspects of people inside of them. Little by little erosions, that if you give into them (backbiting, blamethrowing, withholding, sabotaging) you will feel ashamed of at best once further down the road, even if you 'play the game' in such a way that you get to the top of the crab-bucket.

At worst you will change into no longer being ashamed over shameful behavior. And that has its own cost.

(But all of that's admittedly further afield of the actual question, to which the answer is: do the knowledge transfer well, don't hold stuff back.)
posted by Drastic at 6:58 AM on August 5, 2021 [6 favorites]

I think you are worrying far too much about the risks of passing too much onto your replacement. Even if you pass over all the documentation including the spreadsheet and spend days/week training them how it all fits together, there is a good chance they will forget 90% of everything you tell them, will ignore the spreadsheet and just go about things in their own way.

None of that is your problem.

What you should be concerned with is being sucked into supporting the old job on an ongoing basis. Get an agreement for a transition period of 2 to 5 weeks and once that's expired start stonewalling every request related to the old job. It can be a difficult transition, but if you don't draw the line they will have you working two jobs for one salary.
posted by Lanark at 7:35 AM on August 5, 2021 [3 favorites]

Congratulations on the new job and a new boss that has such a great reputation.

I want to be an ethical professional
[ . . . ]
I don't want to shoot myself in the foot by just handing my successor the keys to the kingdom, thereby making him look awesome at my expense . . . He'll already be getting a significant leg up by being trained by a predecessor, which I never was

So: You need to pick between these two desires. They are at odds with each other. An ethical professional training a replacement tries to train the replacement well. Managing training so the replacement will do a worse job and be seen by others to be struggling is neither ethical nor professional.

If you decide to go the ethical professional route, you presumably have a fixed amount of time to do the training. Do what you can in that period to get things together. You don't need to do a mad scramble and 14 hour days, but in the time you have you should be delivering precisely what you think is most useful. There's no tension when you try to do this, no point at which something is "too useful" and should be held back.

I think answerers are interpreting the spreadsheet differently, but to me it basically sounds like an info packet on subsidiaries you created and should be shared. (If it's primarily personal--as in your subjective opinions of personnel or projects their--then I'd say hang on to it.)

To be sure, you were treated really unfairly by your old boss. You have every right to be bitter. But seeing new guy fail or struggle isn't going to vindicate you in the mind of your toxic old boss.
posted by mark k at 7:59 AM on August 5, 2021 [2 favorites]

Those tools you created aren't personal if you used them for work purposes. If I started a new job and found out later that the person who trained me deliberately withheld documents and tools relevant to my role, I would feel like I had been bullied and set up to fail and would hold a very low opinion of that person. Don't contribute to workplace toxicity that has harmed you. Also, as someone mentioned above, you never know how this new hire might play a role in your career in the future.
Good luck in the new role!
posted by emd3737 at 8:26 AM on August 5, 2021 [5 favorites]

Best answer: If it was built on work time for work purposes, it's work, not personal. I hear that you put your own initiative and toil into building it and now fear 1) not getting credit 2) the new guy taking undeserved credit 3) your actually being harmed by comparison.

You're not going to get appropriate credit, which would have meant being recognized as good at this position and not being screwed with and needing to escape. This is unfair, but here you are. It is possible that accepting you can't fully change (1) would take some of the emotion out of (2) and (3)?

Still, a master handover document improves your position for all three. Transfer as much as possible in writing, rather than verbally, and as broadly as you can, not a 1:1 handoff. This is good for the company -- your replacement will miss verbal comments and value written material to refer to, and other people will likely find value no matter how siloed your role was.

And here's how a handover package helps you. 1) It's an artifact people can see showing the knowledge and systems you built for this role. 2) 3) It shows that you built it.

I'm aiming this towards a win-win, where the new guy can function well and you look like an effective knowledge creator (even though your position was toxic and that's never going to be fair). If win-wins truly cannot exist in the environment, get out ASAP.
posted by away for regrooving at 10:27 AM on August 5, 2021 [4 favorites]

"(and like my boss's accusations of ineptitude were correct)" -- do you have to care, now, what your old boss thinks? Actual question, not rhetorical.

If your new position is organizationally distant enough that your old boss can be ignored, ignore them with great vindictiveness.

If your old boss can gossip and pull strings and harm you in your new position, I'm afraid it's not good for long at all. Because your old boss is a jerk and will never approve of you and you cannot maneuver for approval.
posted by away for regrooving at 10:42 AM on August 5, 2021 [1 favorite]

You are not going to win against the boss so don't play his game. Do your job to the best of your ability, and that includes a full and proper handover to the new person, then move on. Anything created in work time isn't yours, it's works property, if it's found out you made the sheets and didn't share them it's not going to make the boss think better of you and your competence.
posted by wwax at 11:10 AM on August 5, 2021

If you produced something during work time, it is owned by the business, not you.

I'm going to second Lanark: What you should be concerned with is being sucked into supporting the old job on an ongoing basis.
posted by flimflam at 11:50 AM on August 5, 2021 [1 favorite]

I can relate, having been on both sides of this, but I'm going to be a bit harsh here: it sounds like you are using "covering your ass" to try to force recognition of your work at the expense of your replacement's success in your former role, which is actually your being a part of the same sick system you're trying to escape.

My advice is that what consider what you handoff based on what this person needs, not what you want people to think of you later.

I do agree with the above advice about considering how available you will be to this person once you've moved on to your new role. You don't want to end up doing two jobs.
posted by sm1tten at 11:56 AM on August 5, 2021 [2 favorites]

I once moved into a new position at work that was vacated by a colleague who wished to stay in it. He wasn't well-regarded by everyone in the organization. A few times I used documents he created, and I always made a point of mentioning how helpful those documents were. Moving into the position, I knew his reputation, and I also suspected he was doing better than some people realized; having access to those materials made it clear he was, and I said as much.

Similarly, I once took some time away from work during a rough spell and left copious documentation for my fill-in. She *gushed* about how helpful the documentation was, which was great for me to hear, and good for others to hear as well. The documentation was so good that they used it a few years later, and a supervisor told me how useful it was even though it was outdated at that point. It was bittersweet, but I felt glad I had done a thorough and good job with that.

I know you are still in this position, and caught in a toxic stew, but I don't think you have much to gain by hanging on to a hope of redeeming your reputation in this department by (?) not leaving him everything that might be helpful. In a big way, helping out this new person -- leaving him organized materials -- gains you an immediate fan who will quickly see your competence. Anything he hears about you (if he hears bad things) won't stick because he'll be benefiting from what you left.

Also, I think it would be much healthier to let it go. Let the work materials go to him, and try to let go of caring what this department/bad boss thinks about you. As much as you can treat this as a break-up, the better. You know how it can be really healthy to go no-contact after a bad relationship ends? I think giving this guy all the stuff makes it less likely he'll reach out to you with questions or for help, and it'll help you have your head held high.

Be the bigger person. I know it's hard. But if you created materials on work time for work, those aren't "personal" materials. If they might help him, I think it's to your and his advantage for you to leave it instead of trying to play a game where you don't want him to look as good after the work you did.
posted by bluedaisy at 12:31 PM on August 5, 2021 [4 favorites]

The bad news: your old boss doesn't like you, and may badmouth you to other managers.

The good news: it's your new boss who is responsible for your success now. If you can prove to your new boss that you're good at your job, then any badmouthing from your old boss will reflect badly on them, not you.

You said you have got to be more ruthless about covering my ass and navigating corporate politics. One of my friends coined a saying that's useful here: whoever has the most paperwork wins. Document your achievements. Share them with your new boss. Make sure they understand how good you are.

As others have suggested, I'd send my replacement a handover email. Divide it into two sections: "Essential files and procedures" and "Tools I created to make my life easier". CC in your old boss AND your new boss, to impress your new boss with how organised and helpful you are.

And then focus 100% on being successful in your new role.

I've heard people speak highly of the book The First 90 Days, although I haven't read it myself.

Also: learn from past mistakes. You said your old boss blamed you for a project failure that was outside your control. Did you warn your old boss that project was in trouble, back when he could do something to fix it? Did you document that warning? Did you run a post-project Lessons Learned session, where you formally documented why the project did not succeed?

If not, that's something to start doing in your new role.
posted by davidwitteveen at 8:51 PM on August 5, 2021

Best answer: I really feel for you on this. More than a decade ago, I was involved in opening up a new business line for my male-dominated organization in a remote place. I created not just my own role but the team itself, and set up the organization’s network. One connection in particular was very sensitive and took me a very long time to establish.

After a while I was replaced by not one but three older straight white dudes. A few months later I went to a meeting where I overheard someone talking about how the one guy I had introduced my sensitive contact to had managed to get so well-connected after such a short time, when it has taken his predecessor (me) so much longer.

I did turn around and answer that one, but it didn’t make much difference to their legends. The memory still makes me angry. My colleagues would not have bought into that narrative if they had been talking about two men.

But, I am not sorry I handed everything over, since it was my job after all. What I do regret is not sharing all my information, including that contact,
with everyone who might have benefitted. That way, they would have all known the source of their bounty and the hotshot would not have been able to pretend he was some kind of networking genius/

As others have pointed out, you probably won’t be able to change your former boss’s opinion, but you can influence the future by letting everyone know that you were both competent and generous with your knowledge. A good handover package will also help you cut the cord with the old team that much faster, since you can refer them to what you have already provided.
posted by rpfields at 9:17 PM on August 5, 2021 [4 favorites]

Response by poster: Thanks to everyone who responded for your advice. It hadn't occurred to me, but I agree that the boundary to draw re: "doing too much" for my replacement comes after the transition period, not during--and given the nature of my new job and physical proximity it WILL be something to watch out for.

For those who asked, yes, this org really is that dysfunctional--I asked the question because I've watched people be torn down by colleagues after their departure when their performance is compared to that of their successors, who seem more effective precisely because the person who originated their role had struggled through said dysfunction in order to get things set up. But you all are correct that it's foolish to try to control that outcome and would require some pretty embarrassing behavior.

Ultimately it's just a bad scene all around unfortunately. Thanks again.
posted by TinyChicken at 1:38 AM on August 6, 2021 [4 favorites]

Response by poster: So, in case anyone still has this somewhere in their activity or is reading the thread later on, a quick update for the curious:

- I did indeed wind up supporting my replacement WAY more than originally planned or agreed to, resulting in my old boss having to compensate my new dept for the associated man-hours.

- Replacement Dude had his strong and weak points, bringing new things to the role that I hadn't, and that's cool. The time we spent teamed up on the old role during his training was actually kind of interesting. HOWEVER, I will point out for posterity that he did indeed receive more support and higher praise for less-polished work--and I was not the only person in our org who noticed this. There's stuff he turned in that I would not even have gotten away with, let alone been complimented on, which was met with effusive feedback from management. So unfortunately my fears on that score were not baseless, but on the other hand WOW what a rare opportunity and valuable lesson to see it borne out in real time, with corroboration from other colleagues. It's profoundly changed my overall attitude and approach to working life. To any women/female-presenting folx out there: you are not imagining it, and I am sorry.

- Said replacement wound up quitting after about 2 months due to exactly the same issues I had faced in the role, explicitly telling me the stress was making him ill. I feel for him and hope he's doing well.

- Subsequent to his departure my old boss did what I had been telling her for years needed to be done, which was to split that insane role into 2 different ones. Replacement #2 for one half of the old job is arriving soon (a year after I technically vacated the position and 6 months after Replacement #1 quit--there were absolutely no internal candidates). This person, also male, has 1.5x-2x more experience than either I or Replacement #1 had (no doubt with the salary to match), which I do read as validation of my feeling, in a previous question, that the expectations placed on me in that job FAR, FAR exceeded my rank and pay grade, and boss/grandboss/HR bloody well knew it. Another infuriating but valuable lesson.

On my end, I am enjoying my new role very much, except for unfortunate continued physical proximity to the old boss in our shared offices. I think it's going to open some good doors in the next few years. Thanks again to MeFi for your invaluable help.
posted by TinyChicken at 5:27 AM on June 28, 2022 [3 favorites]

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