Follow up on retiree

Question:

I was hired to replace a person who is retiring. It is a prestigious position and the person who is retiring is training me. The problem is he will not retire now. My boss is happy with my work. The trainer is too and praises me all the time.

The owner of the company came into my office one day soon after I started and said he wishes he could fire my trainer but he can’t because the trainer has been with the company 35 years and the owner cannot afford to pay him out. New laws say the guy can retire when he is ready. The major problem is that the trainer told me he wants to share this job with me and he started to divide up the responsibilites with me. He also demands that I send him every email, communication etc. so he “has my back”. When I did this, he scooped some of my customers and started to take my work and do it himself. My boss says he should not be doing that and he is only my co-worker. But my boss will not take any action on it.

I am afraid I will have to share the job with this man and their is not enough work for two of us. I left a good job for this job and was promised lots of perks and higher pay at the end of my probationary period. Now that the trainer will not retire I am afraid for my own job security or that I will actually be demoted. I feel misled.

Should I worry about this? I have been at this position only two months now but have had outside specialized training provided by the company and have been told I am an asset.

I am confused. Any more suggestions?

Signed,

Confused


Answer:

Dear Confused:

Hello again and thanks for the details. I can imagine how frustrating it is if you have talked to your boss, to no avail.

Every work culture is different, so only you know what you can do and not do and what you can get by with or what will be disapproved of strongly. But, it may be that as long as you are accepting of the situation your boss will let things rock along and your coworker will continue his behavior.

Who promised you the perks and advancement? If it’s anyone other than your boss, that might be the person to talk to. If you have an HR section, perhaps you can discuss the matter with them. Clearly your boss is not ready to fulfill his or her role acceptably, so you need to seek another resource.

Or, consider almost forcing your boss to take some action by suggesting a weekly meeting with your boss and you and your coworker. Or a one time meeting to clarify issues. Then, ask your boss, in front of the coworker, to clarify all the issues that are frustrating you. For example, you could ask about how work is going to be distributed up until Bill’s retirement.

Consider this: If you are doing a good job and are valued, but the coworker is on the way out the door sometime before long (no matter how valued he was) what do you think would happen if you pushed back when the coworker asks you to send him emails and do other things that put him essentially in charge of you? Do you think you would be fired if he complained? I don’t think so. In fact, the truth might come to light, which would be beneficial.

The bottom line is that as long as you do what you coworker says he will keep treating you like a subordinate. As long as the boss can just say there is nothing he can do and you accept that, he won’t do any more than he has to. So, although I don’t know what would work in the culture of your organization, it seems you will have to take the first step and many others, to make this right for yourself. You are the only one with a real interest in your job, so if you just give in, you may have to deal with this for several more years! You have a lot at stake in this situation so I hope you won’t let niceness get in the way of being pragmatic about your work and your position there. If you have the time, let us know what you decide to do and how it works out. I know it may seem very challenging for you to deal with it on your own, but that’s the only option you have.

Best wishes to you.

Tina Lewis Rowe

Tina Lewis Rowe

Tina had a thirty-three year career in law enforcement, serving with the Denver Police Department from 1969-1994 and was the Presidential United States Marshal for Colorado from 1994-2002. She provides training to law enforcement organizations and private sector groups and does conference presentations related to leadership, workplace communications and customized topics. Her style is inspirational with humor.