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The Saga of the Overzealous "Heir Apparrent"

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The Saga of the Overzealous "Heir Apparrent"

The Dream
Two stories crossed my path recently and I was amused by them. Both have some similarities and I wanted to get the feedback from the wise ones at TR about these situations.

1. A boss is planning for his eventual departure. He has someone in mind to be his successor. He has worked with this person for years and feels that he would do a good job. The boss has a conversation with him about what he would do if he got the job. The prospective replacement goes on and on about how he would "change this", "overhaul that", what he did not like about what was in place. In other words he basically trashed the current establishment, including things that the current boss put in place. Needless to say, that person talked himself out of consideration for that position.

2. A IT worker was hired to be an assistant to another. This person immediately, and aggressively starts trying to adjust the way procedures and things are done, including things put in place by the one in charge. The newbie also was criticizing the current process to a degree. The one in charge wanted to give them more responsibilities, but as a consequence, the assistant has been actually excluded from things that he/she could have been involved in, and the one in charge has deliberately not delegated additional responsibilities to this person because of their aggressive approach.

In both cases the ones in charge have not violated any policies (far as I know) but is this reaction really fair? Some might feel that both reacted too personally and are just afraid of change or they are afraid that the other person might do the job better than them. I think that the ones in charge reacted in a human way but in an understandable way, protecting what they have worked hard to put into place from a person who may or may not completely understand the process or who may have an agenda that benefits them alone and not the business.

But I am putting it out in the forum.

If I were either person, and I had an agenda, I would have worked hard to blend in and then if necessary, give my input. But that is me. However, these two individuals clearly were confident that their 2 cents was actually worth more at least to the one in charge, and it cost them, at least at the present.

What do you think?
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    Tony Hopkinson

    If the heir apparent had said, everything you've done is brill, no one will notice you've gone because your were so great I don't need to change anything, what would that say?

    Personally I've always believed that someone who believes they are right is probably wrong, and that someone who doesn't relish their ideas being challenged doesn't care about more than being seen to be right.

    Any incumbent who got there on ability should thrive on being challenged, and they should never be prepared to accept a brown noser as an heir.
    So if these people got binned simply because they wanted to change stuff, they were heir to a wimp who in fact had nothing worth while to bequeath them...

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    The Dream

    Revisited. Interesting response Mr. Tony

    Is there an balance between being challenging procedures and authority legitimately and forcing your issues and aggravating other co-workers in the process?

    While both stories have some similarities, they are not identical. The first story was about two people in high management who worked together for years, the second was an IT professional (not a manager) who had a green rookie hired as the assistant.

    I am not saying that either person in authority was justified in their actions, but it makes me wonder about being careful in how I approach things in each situation, if I were the one in charge or the one who was in the other chair. If I were the "heir" in upper management, and I had certain plans about what I would do once I got in charge, I would play that close to the vest, especially if what I planned to change was put in place by the incumbent, especially if it was clear that it would remain in place until he was gone.

    If I was the newbee, I would learn as much as possible and try to fit in until I could give useful input. But if I had thorough knowledge of something that was just not being done right, e.g. I knew that certain code would not work or cause problems that others were not aware of, I would voice my concerns (and document them) respectfully so that others would know about them.

    In the second story, as far as I know, the assistant would not be inheriting anything right away if at all. But the newbee was trying to take over the other person's responsibilities and force themselves into situations they were not ready for and the one in charge had to cut them out of certain activities to keep his own job under control. Not sure what management was doing in that situation.
    But that is what he had to do.
    This brings to mind an article I came across some time ago where someone was fired for "being too eager" and he was seeking advice on how to adjust his approach so that it would not happen again. I thought part of the response was interesting. Here it is.
    -QUOTE from http://www.askamanager.org/2011/04/fired-for-being-too-eager.html
    You describe yourself as having been forceful in your requests, and thats alarming. You cant really get away with being forceful in your requests at this stage in your career (or possibly ever, in some cases). Before you can even think about being that aggressive, you need to build up a huge amount of credibility, reputation, and value as an employee which is something that typically takes years, if it happens at all. And even then, being forceful still isnt something youd be going around doing all the time.

    Look, heres the deal with making suggestions and having input: Its all in how you do it. If youre constantly throwing out suggestions about things things outside your purview or about things you might not fully understand, without first taking the time to understand why things work the way they do, you are going to annoy the **** out of people. (You may also cause your boss to wonder why youre not more focused on what shes paying you to do.)
    -END QUOTE

    I have seen situations like this even in my workplace, talented people who try to push their way into situations and actually end up alienating themselves unnecessarily. I have even seen this affect the job prospects for some people. And while some bosses are the type to pull newbees to the side and give them a pep talk, others do what this persons former boss did, move on.

    I try to be fair in my dealings and want to strike a balance in dealing with the legit concerns of my coworkers as well, and thus the posting of these scenarios.

    I thought I would get more input on this, so thanks for your response.

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    Tony Hopkinson

    If the heir apparent had said, everything you've done is brill, no one will notice you've gone because your were so great I don't need to change anything, what would that say?

    Personally I've always believed that someone who believes they are right is probably wrong, and that someone who doesn't relish their ideas being challenged doesn't care about more than being seen to be right.

    Any incumbent who got there on ability should thrive on being challenged, and they should never be prepared to accept a brown noser as an heir.
    So if these people got binned simply because they wanted to change stuff, they were heir to a wimp who in fact had nothing worth while to bequeath them...

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    The Dream

    Revisited. Interesting response Mr. Tony

    Is there an balance between being challenging procedures and authority legitimately and forcing your issues and aggravating other co-workers in the process?

    While both stories have some similarities, they are not identical. The first story was about two people in high management who worked together for years, the second was an IT professional (not a manager) who had a green rookie hired as the assistant.

    I am not saying that either person in authority was justified in their actions, but it makes me wonder about being careful in how I approach things in each situation, if I were the one in charge or the one who was in the other chair. If I were the "heir" in upper management, and I had certain plans about what I would do once I got in charge, I would play that close to the vest, especially if what I planned to change was put in place by the incumbent, especially if it was clear that it would remain in place until he was gone.

    If I was the newbee, I would learn as much as possible and try to fit in until I could give useful input. But if I had thorough knowledge of something that was just not being done right, e.g. I knew that certain code would not work or cause problems that others were not aware of, I would voice my concerns (and document them) respectfully so that others would know about them.

    In the second story, as far as I know, the assistant would not be inheriting anything right away if at all. But the newbee was trying to take over the other person's responsibilities and force themselves into situations they were not ready for and the one in charge had to cut them out of certain activities to keep his own job under control. Not sure what management was doing in that situation.
    But that is what he had to do.
    This brings to mind an article I came across some time ago where someone was fired for "being too eager" and he was seeking advice on how to adjust his approach so that it would not happen again. I thought part of the response was interesting. Here it is.
    -QUOTE from http://www.askamanager.org/2011/04/fired-for-being-too-eager.html
    You describe yourself as having been forceful in your requests, and thats alarming. You cant really get away with being forceful in your requests at this stage in your career (or possibly ever, in some cases). Before you can even think about being that aggressive, you need to build up a huge amount of credibility, reputation, and value as an employee which is something that typically takes years, if it happens at all. And even then, being forceful still isnt something youd be going around doing all the time.

    Look, heres the deal with making suggestions and having input: Its all in how you do it. If youre constantly throwing out suggestions about things things outside your purview or about things you might not fully understand, without first taking the time to understand why things work the way they do, you are going to annoy the **** out of people. (You may also cause your boss to wonder why youre not more focused on what shes paying you to do.)
    -END QUOTE

    I have seen situations like this even in my workplace, talented people who try to push their way into situations and actually end up alienating themselves unnecessarily. I have even seen this affect the job prospects for some people. And while some bosses are the type to pull newbees to the side and give them a pep talk, others do what this persons former boss did, move on.

    I try to be fair in my dealings and want to strike a balance in dealing with the legit concerns of my coworkers as well, and thus the posting of these scenarios.

    I thought I would get more input on this, so thanks for your response.