Replacing myself at work after 20+ years

I’ve been told this is expected of me; that I should chose candidate(s) for them to approve/disapprove, and then I will train. I’ve been doing this a long time and in fact, was the first person to ever do this job. Small family owned company, 150 employees, 4 locations locally.

My informal title is Marketing Communications. I create all promotional materials (catalogs, flyers,signage etc.), process & collect coop claims, create internal forms, run events, maintain premiums (pens, etc.), maintain the sales literature, create PR opportunities, maintain a ton of specialized mailing lists…it’s just a ton of stuff.

The software doesn’t worry me much, but the poor replacement will have to work in CS3 on an IBM platform - not my problem, there. But as I am pretty much self-directed (Oh, I have managers, too many managers) I need someone with an out-going personality and initiative. Just my longevity here mean people are used to coming to me and expecting me to have the answers, or at least get the answers. And part of being here so long is that the managers I have now, really don’t know what all I do, or how I do it.

Honestly, I have no idea where to start. They expect I will be training for at least 4-6 mos. which makes sense as our industry is seasonal. So as my time doing this ends, I really need some help with this. Ideally, someone within the company would be the best option, but I am not going to teach the software.

Ideally you’ll hire someone into the position who already has experience with this, and then they’ll know the right questions to ask as they go.

Just to be sure, btw, you are planning on retiring after this, correct?

Put out an internal posting and a Monster/CareerFinder/whatever ad and sift through the candidates, that’s how you start. Do you have an HR department? Might want to talk to them first.

You are not going to replace yourself and your knowledge, so don’t worry about it. It’s simply not possible to design a training program to replace 20 years of experience.

So what that means is that the nature of the job will change and that some of the things that you currently do may have to get transitioned to other people. The list seems constrained to those tasks that one would expect your title to do (especially in a smaller company), but the other thing you’re worried about - the managers who expect you to have all the answers - is not a worry at all, as they will quickly come to realize the 6-month new hire can’t really replace the 20-year seasoned vet at many things.

Sounds like a job I might be able to do :wink:

It sounds like your role expanded over the years and now you’re left with a stack of hats to put on someone else that may not know every hat.

In this case I would start with what the main aspects of the job are - sounds like it’s graphic design, with a side of marketing and event management. I’d aim for finding a graphic designer who might have worked in-house at a small company before - maybe a food company or gift company that did regular trade shows. That combination would nearly guarantee that they had come into contact with designing and/or maintaining the event booth so they’d have some management experience of that type. Form a list of “needs” and “wants” in a potential candidate and work from there!

That’s the plan!!!

Well since you are retiring, by all means. Make sure your consulting fee after you retire is sufficiently high that they don’t bother you.

I’d recommend reasonable rates to maintain some easy income. He can always raise the rates later if he doesn’t want or need the money anymore.

DGH, good luck with this. The approach here should be to redefine the job and spread some of your responsibilities to others. Otherwise you may not find someone who can do the job you have been doing. There’s no real serious downside for you no matter what happens since you won’t be there, but I’d assume there must be some long time colleagues you don’t want to leave high and dry, and of course it’s always nice to maintain a good reputation.

IMHO, this is the first thing you should be taking care of (at least from the company’s point of view). Pick your main supervisor, and make sure they do know everything you do. Even if it’s a once-a-year thing, like “I always make the reservation for the company picnic”.

Once that’s all on paper, then you and your boss can figure out who should do everything – most of it will be your replacement, but it might be time to pass some of the things off to other people, especially the things that you do for managers who aren’t your main supervisor.

After that, once you know exactly what your replacement will do, you and your supervisor can figure out how to hire and train them.

First, congratulations on being near retirement. Second, don’t worry about it. Do your best.
What should have happened is that someone within the company should have been identified to be your backup, just in case you got run over by a bus or something.

Have you hired before? At least this is a good time to be looking for someone, and you appear to know what you want to see in a candidate.
The second step is to let whoever you hire shadow you, and then let him or her start taking small jobs so you can see how they do. If you keep increasing their responsibility, and start taking time off so your internal customers have to get used to working with the new person, you’ll have a smooth transition and also be sure that you didn’t make a mistake in hiring.

They of course won’t be as good as you for a long time, but not your problem.

Take a few minutes and write your job description. Not what the company thinks it is, what it actually is. Then put it up on one or more of the job search boards, such as Monster, Dice, etc. and see who is out there.

Tell 'em right back that it ain’t in your job description.

Replacement planning is a management function; and it sounds like you have plenty of managers who should have done this. If they want you to take this on too, how much are they going to increase your pay?

Make sure the person hired is less experienced & qualified than you; it will make you look better in retrospect. Also increases the chances that they will hire you back as a consultant to fix up some of the mess.

Perhaps the reason he wants to do this is to support those who use what he creates, not because management wants him to. These are real people who need the stuff, and in my experience supporting them is a pleasure, not an imposition.

Do you own part of the company?

If not, why would you do this? I am in the camp that thinks this is enabler behavior.

It sounds like this company has been relying on you for way too much for way too long, and that it is run by such entitled p… people that they have no intention of no longer doing so after you are gone.

Hefty consultant fees after you retire? It sounds more like you should expect phone calls at all hours of the day and night, demanding you fix something, no compensation offered, because, after all, you set it all up, until you actually get a restraining order.

Tell me, which of your responsibilities have they decided you can ease up on while you locate, hire, and train your replacement?

ETA: They will end up hiring three people to replace you. “They” always do.

“That can be managed by our old friend alcohol!” - Homer

Excellent advice. Especially in a small company, tasks will end up piling up on some people, especially if they demonstrate competence. Every couple of years, everyone should be discussing all the things they do with their supervisors to make sure that the tasks are really being handled by the right person.

Especially when you’re trying to retire, you don’t want to try to train someone on a task they really shouldn’t be handling in the first place.

Two thoughts:

  1. Based on what you listed as your job duties in the original post - there are plenty of Marketing Communications professionals out there with the skills and experience to do all of those things. You just need to clearly lay out the skills and expectations desired in the job description so that you get competent candidates responding.

  2. As a 10+ year employee of a small company myself, I suspect the real issue is that you do a lot of other things and wear multiple (and not necessarily related) hats, just because you’ve been there so long. if this is the case, the best thing to do is clearly separate all of what you do into actual distinct positions. It may be unrealistic to expect the company to find and hire one person with the exact same mix of skill and experience to do it all, they will have to face the reality of hiring multiple people to properly handle all of the duties.

Why not? As long as he isn’t being asked to work overtime without pay to do this, that’s what a job is: they pay you money in return for your doing the stuff they ask you to do.

The only thing that changes because he’s a short-timer is that it won’t hurt him much to quit a few months sooner, so they’d better be considerate.

My main advice to the OP:

  1. Don’t work evenings or weekends to hire and train your replacement (or to do your regular work while you’re hiring and training your replacement during regular business hours). Put in your eight hours a day, then go home.

  2. Once you’re retired, decide how much you’d have to charge as a consultant so that you would be glad to hear from them when they called. That should be the absolute floor of what you should charge them. And if they take up more of your time than you’d like, gradually raise the rates until that’s not the case anymore.

There are some really amazing and thoughtful ideas here!

Exactly! There are some really odd and unrelated tasks I do that have somehow ended up being “mine” that really have no relevance to my actual job but somehow I ended up picking up “for a little while” when someone quit or changed position.

Great place to start, and I can do that before any official “end” date is announced, which will allow plenty of time to train extant personnel, and streamline the search.

They’re very strange about internal job postings here-they worry that turning down a long time employee who thinks he/she can do the job, will create bad feelings and possibly a resignation. Hey, it’s not my company, but I feel a loyalty after all these years, and they’ve been very kind thru some circumstances that at time made my work habits sketchy. (helping Mother with her ALZ, the death of my husband)

Don’t forget that if you work as a consultant you have to pay Self-Employment tax also. And you should get the equivalent of what your benefits are worth. That’s part of the floor. In some cases there may be liability issues. Big companies only deal with relatively large consulting companies. Mine has one which will take on an individual someone wants to hire so none of these problems come up.

It might be easier to extend your time there and ask for a raise for staying.

I strongly suspected s/he would be. I’ve seen the behavior at several companies when a person gives notice - increased, even unreasonable demands that the employees gives in to, in a futile attempt to keep the companies from blackening their names in the industry.

However, that does not sound like the case here.