co-worker will not retire

Question:

This is a followup to my problem with the co-worker who will not retire. My boss has decided to divide the job between us, where I am responsible for 3/4 of the roles and my co-worker is responsible for 1/4 of the job.

However, my boss has given all important information and files which I need to do my work to my co-worker because “he has familiarity with them”. These files include customers names, procedures etc that directly relate to my duties and not my co-workers. So I feel the boss has muddied the roles. Meanwhile, the co-worker is teaching other workers in the field and office my roles so they can do them too.

Though I feel somewhat glad that some clarity has occured, I feel like my boss is not really addressing the issue totally. I feel because he has known my co-worker for many years, he feels loyal to him and does not have the heart or guts to deal with my co-worker fully. Though my co-worker continues to say he is ready to retire, there is no deadline in sight.

This leaves me feeling disrespected and frustrated. My duties are duplicated and I wonder why I was hired at this time.

Any thoughts on how to go forward?

Signed,

Frustrated


Answer:

Dear Frustrated:

Hello again. I can well imagine that you are frustrated!

It appears you have little choice in this matter…you can either stay and deal with a strange working situation or leave. You want to stay apparently. So, you will simply have to keep communicating to everyone that you have a role and what that role is going to be.

I hesitate to mention this because I don’t want to discourage you. But, to an outsider, looking in, it sounds very much as though your boss and the person who had PLANNED on retiring but now is not retiring, doesn’t think you’re ready for the job.

I know you say you have been told you’re doing fine. But, apparently you boss isn’t very open and honest. Is there a chance the situation has stayed this way because the organization doesn’t feel the soon-to-be-retired person can leave until they’re sure about you? Is there a chance that person is worried about leaving it to you to do?

You say others are being trained to do your work. Could that also be because the retiring person thinks you might not be able to do it? The retiring person was given important files. Could that be because those are the crucial elements of the job and your boss doesn’t want you to deal with them and create problems?

I would be remiss if I didn’t mention those things, because that is what it sounds like to me. I’ve reviewed everything you’ve written, and it sounds very much like the coworker genuinely planned to leave but is staying for some reason. He continues to do part of the work–some very important elements. He is training others to do your job, just in case. Your boss is not allowing you to get familiar with the records and instead continues to entrust them to your coworker.

You can see how that sounds.

If you think there is no question about your skill level, then the only other conclusion is simply that the coworker doesn’t want to leave, because he hates to stop working. And, your boss doesn’t want your coworker to feel he’s being put out. You, in the meantime, you are there already, so they have to give you part of the job…just not all of it. And the boss’s loyalty is to the long-time employee, not you.

If you want to stay you will probably have to learn to live with that indefinitely–unless you find an opportunity to talk to HR or to your boss about where you stand. Your boss may feel he has explained it to you enough. Then, you’ll have to make a decision about it all.

I wish I could provide you with some insight that would be helpful to a great degree, but this is involves two other people at least. I don’t know what they’re thinking about work and you or why they’re reacting as they have been. That’s something you’ll have to find out and respond to through active and open communication.

Best wishes as you continue to deal with this matter.

Tina Lewis Rowe