Why You Want To Hire Your Replacement

Is this how you’ve felt when new talent comes into the company?

New Talent Arrives

On October 28th at 12:24 AM we had our 2nd daughter. Her Big Sis, a high-octane, “I do everything myself” three year old was so excited that when we brought her home from the hospital she was shaking on the couch. Holding her, she kissed her and said “I love you baby Avery” and “You’re so cute.” Disclaimer – she also tells ants and bugs “You’re so cute” too.

Nonetheless, her reaction and mindset to being a Big Sis has amazed me. Much different than Big Bro’s reaction when I showed up re: picture above.

So which one are you? Big Bro or Big Sis?

Let’s pause on Big Sis and Big Bro for a moment. I want to tell you a different story. Maybe this one sounds more familiar.

A More Familiar Story

I’m a top performer. My team consistently out performs company standards. I have a great relationship with my boss and good relationships with other senior leaders in the company. I’m well-liked and consistently step up to take on special projects that are outside of my direct role. But I’m not getting promoted. Why?

Is it that I need to be more patient and wait my turn? No. Is it that [Insert your reason]? Nope. Is it that I [Insert your next reason]? Wrong again.

It’s because you haven’t hired your replacement by adding talent onto your team or developing the talent you have.

But if I hire my replacement, doesn’t that mean they can get rid of me? That I’m no longer special because someone else can do what I do?


Why You Want to Hire Your Replacement

My first job out of college was a two year management trainee program for a $6B B2B service company. Six months into my two year rotational program, we fired our transportation supervisor and I was “plugged” into managing a dozen delivery drivers all 10-30 years my senior. My General Manager told me to quickly learn the role and then train or hire my replacement so I could get back to my “developmental management program.”

So that’s what I did. Six months later I had hired my replacement and as a bonus prepared several other front line team members for “next up” leadership roles.

Then I just kept repeating the process.

Here’s what happened:

  • I started to attract internal talent onto my teams because I built a reputation for developing others.
  • With a stronger team, I could reach up and take additional responsibility off of my boss’s plate.
  • When a new position opened up, I became the obvious choice as I was already partially doing the role.
  • Four years and four promotions later I became the youngest General Manager in the company at 26 years old.

Was I running the risk that hiring my replacement could have made me redundant? Yes, but it didn’t.

Temporary Set Back or Long Term Failure?

I suspect there are instances when this strategy backfires. Maybe that’s happened to you. You hired your replacement and then got “cost out.” Painful, no doubt.

But over the course of a 40 year career, which approach will lead you to more success more often?

When you make your goal to develop others so that they can become more valuable to the company, you will be rewarded for that value creation over the long term.

Here’s my proof:

Back to Big Sis. While she didn’t technically “hire” her replacement, her replacement did show up. She’s embraced the transition, “helping” anyway she can. As the Management Team of the house, do you think my wife and I value her more or less when you see pictures like this?

Published by brianhquinn

I write a weekly post to help you grow professionally, elevate your career and Become an "A" Player.

4 thoughts on “Why You Want To Hire Your Replacement

  1. Thanks for the feedback Horace! I’m with you on how it can also create a culture of collaboration and creativity. Definitely a positive side effect!

  2. Solid article with a relevant personal touch. This is certainly the best path to promotion, but also a great path to make your life easier as a manager if you end up sitting in a role for longer than expected. Developed and empowered team teammates create a culture of collaboration and creativity.

  3. So true, you’ll never be able to move on to the next good thing when you’re the only one in your role/position. Always have to be looking at bringing in strong bench strength to step up. Love the content, keep pumping out these great podcast.

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