The Misplaced Fear of Training a Replacement

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In organizations in any country across all industries, there has been a fear of teaching a subordinate or a junior staff member the ins and outs of one’s job. This apprehension is based predominantly on a fear that the person being trained will take the job of the person doing the training.

“Why should I train my replacement?” the logic goes. It’s an understandable concern, especially when the dynamic involves a senior staff member training someone younger and who is paid less. But it is logic that is often flawed. Here we take a look at why this may be.

The Threat Is Overblown

Even if you train someone new on how to do your job, it’s not likely that he or she would be able to replace you after a short onboarding period. One reason is that this new hire would simply lack your hands-on experience. And if you truly believe that your company’s motivation is to continually cycle out existing staff in favor of younger, cheaper replacements, that might not be the best company to work for anyway.

The Downside of Being Irreplaceable

Being “irreplaceable” gives employees a feeling of intense job security, and that’s comforting. But what many people in this position fail to realize is that being irreplaceable can act as a huge anchor on one’s career. If your boss thinks that there is nobody who can step into your shoes and do what you’re doing today, how can he or she promote you to a new position?

Help Your Manager Promote You

“Too many leaders don’t get it, but their own growth depends on helping others grow,” says Executive Coach and Consultant Michael Pollock. “Just as you have your own personal strategy for career advancement, you should be training your successors so that your move upwards can be supported by a loyal and well-trained replacement, fully equipped to step into your shoes.”

Rather than seeing someone training to do one’s job as a potential threat, employees should consider this a possible opportunity. A big challenge for many managers when making staffing and promotion decisions is how to fill the role and responsibilities of the person being promoted. Moreover, successfully training someone to be competent to take on your job is a sign to managers that you have management potential.

Many employees are overly protective of their knowledge and are resistant to training new employees they may perceive as potential threats. This not only harms the organization but can hinder an employee’s own chances for career advancement.