The Replacement

by Ashley Crace, Head Editor, INALJ West Virginia

The Replacement

AshleyCraceIt is so exciting to take on a new job! Sometimes, it is easy to forget that someone else was doing that job before you (unless it is a new position, of course).  Though you may wonder under what circumstances the previous person left the position, it is more important for you to think about what you bring to the position.

It can be harrowing to face attitudes from co-workers, customers, patrons, or even supervisors when the previous person was well-liked.  Sure, it would feel good to replace someone who really mucked things up, because then whatever you did would look great!  But, in reality, you want to take over a well-organized system, so it is preferable for you that this is not the case.

How do you deal with replacing someone, no matter what the circumstances?  Here are a few ideas I have:

  • Listen to what people tell you, but never under any circumstances participate in gossip or negative talk about your predecessor.

  • Be yourself. Don’t try to do things the old way. This is the only way to make your new role yours.

  • Ask questions.  Ask your supervisor what was done well in the past and what he/she would like to see improved.

  • Keep a positive attitude.  Change is hard for everyone, including co-workers and patrons who may have been attached to your predecessor and the way things were.

  • Be sensitive when making changes.  You may have a big idea, but be sure to get a pulse on your co-workers feelings about a potential change.  Take input from people who have a stake in what you are doing. By doing so, they know you care about their opinion and that you won’t try to impose sweeping changes that they do not like. 

Have you been in this situation?  If so, how did you handle it?

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