how do I let go of my previous role?

A reader writes:

I work in a large department (50+ people) and was recently promoted to a separate role that is still within my department. While I still have contact with the same upper management, I have entirely separate responsibilities with almost no overlap from my previous role. They brought someone new in to take over my job, “Lisa,” and there were several weeks of overlap where I was training her on her new responsibilities. When I first came into my old job, there was very little documentation or procedures in place, and I spent over a year developing them, working with management and clients, and creating entire systems from scratch. It was a long process but I was proud of my work and eager to pass it on to the new person.

However, during this training period, it was clear that Lisa had strong disagreements about how things were run, yet most stemmed from not understanding the nuances of the job, and dismissively believing it wasn’t that difficult. I did my best to clearly push back against these beliefs by explaining why procedures were a certain way, but she continued to not see the value in my way of doing things throughout our training. Most of these are misunderstanding key components of the job description, and I was very clear on why they could not be simplified. Several times management was involved in these meetings, and I brought my concerns up to them directly, but they either didn’t understand the nuances themselves or felt it wasn’t a concern.

Lisa has recently taken over the role full-time and I have moved into my new role, but there are a few remaining email exchanges and meetings to take care of lingering issues, and during those it has become clear that she has no interest in my input and was eager to make sweeping changes to my procedures the very moment it was her role and not mine, including on her first day. I’m frustrated partially because I think she is going to undo a lot of the hard work I did in developing these procedures, which will lead to mistakes, but it also hurts my pride to have all of my efforts so easily discarded.

If it’s clear management has no interest in stepping in, how do I let go of this role and let this person do it their way, even if I believe they’re doing it wrong? Management continues to invite me to these follow-up meetings, but they are getting increasingly hostile as I continue to explain why things are a certain way, only for Lisa to say that that is not how she is doing things now. Should I tell them I can’t go to the meetings anymore? It’s really leeching my excitement as I move into my new job.

It’s hard to invest deeply in a job and then see some of the work you did undone.

It’s also a very, very normal thing that happens when you leave a job.

You might be 100% right that Lisa’s changes are going to cause problems. You were right to try to explain that and to share the reasoning behind why you set things up as you did. But from there, it’s up to her … well, really it’s up to her management, but they’re telling you that they’re fine with the changes she’s making, and that’s their prerogative.

They might turn out to be wrong! If so, presumably at some point that will become clear and you can be privately vindicated and they will hopefully figure out what they need to do differently. Or maybe they’ll never figure it out and mistakes will continue and problems will fester long-term. Either way, it’s no longer your call; it’s theirs.

It’s also possible that Lisa is bringing a different perspective than yours but not a bad one. It’s possible she was even hired because of the different perspective she brings, and that management above her wants to prioritize different things than the ones you prioritized. Based on what you wrote, that’s probably not the case, but it’s worth being open to that possibility.

None of this means you shouldn’t be proud of what you created. You should! It sounds like it worked well while you were in that job, and your work was clearly good enough to get you a promotion. In fact, it’s because you’re conscientious that you’re feeling the way you do now.

But it’s no longer your job. All you can do is give input when asked, flag concerns about the transition until people make it clear they don’t want you to keep doing it (which sounds like the point you’re at), and then wish the new person well and let them make the role their own just like you did. If she fails, she’ll fail and they’ll deal with that then.

I know that’s hard. This work feels like “yours.” But it’s not anymore.

As for how to handle it now, I’d try to get out of those ongoing meetings if you can. If you can’t get out of them, detach emotionally as much as possible during them — decide you’re not there to convince anyone of anything, but are attending only to provide historical context if it’s requested. Frame things as “you can of course change this, but we did X because of Y. If you do Z, it can cause problems with W, so you’d want to consider how to handle that.” Your tone should convey, “I can fill you in, but I’m no longer wed to anything and you’ll make the call.”

But ideally you’d say you’ve done all the knowledge transfer you can, offer to be available for specific one-off questions if needed, and then happily look forward rather than back.

{ 120 comments… read them below }

  1. Stormfeather*

    I feel for the OP. It sounds like management is practically setting them up to NOT detach from the old job by continuing to drag them to meetings involving it. It’s kinda like the bosses that keep calling the people who quit, like, six months ago to try to have them do aspects of the old job/provide info/whatever. Except here the OP is kinda stuck with it because they’re out of the specific job but not out of the workplace.

    Here’s hoping you can push back an attending the meetings OP, maybe by (somehow) politely pointing out that the new person in the job has completely made things different from how you had handled the job anyhow, so there’s not really much use you can be, on top of the new person being actively hostile.

    1. Krabby*

      I agree. I actually think management might be doing that crappy double-speak thing where they recognize that there will be problems with Lisa’s way, but want OP to do all the legwork of actually managing her on that front.

      I like the idea of the pushback. Sending an email that says something like, “I’ve pointed out my concerns regarding X, Y and Z to Lisa, but I understand that she will be taking the process in a different direction. Because of that, I think it makes sense for us to wind down these transfer meetings a little early. Let’s make DATE our last one. I will of course be available for any questions from Lisa as they come up.” That should also force management to speak up if they want Lisa to be using your process.

      After that OP, it’s with your management team.

      1. Annony*

        I think that wording in an email will sound a little too antagonistic. Next time she is invited to a meeting she could say something like “I’m really not sure that my presence would add anything to the meeting at this point. While I am happy to answer any questions about the way I did things and why, Lisa has developed her own system and I am not in a position to provide much more feedback than I already have.” Then it is less about thinking Lisa’s system is bad (even if true) and more about the fact that she is being invited to meetings where her feedback is ignored.

        1. serenity*

          “Taking the process in a different direction” sounds pretty matter of fact to me. That’s not really antagonistic.

          1. MsMeercat*

            My take was that your wording, while generally great, may get read as antagonistic as well, mainly because of the “I explained my concerns… taking the process in a different direction. BECAUSE OF THAT it makes sense to wind down the meetings” – that is to say, it makes it sound like OP wants to get out of the meetings because Lisa is not listening to concerns and taking things in a different direction. While that is largely true (and I feel you OP!), I think it’s better to convey the sentiment of “not my circus, not my monkeys any more” (well, in a more polite tone, but generally the “I am in a new position and have done as much knowledge transfer as I can at this point…” or “not sure my feedback would still be helpful since processes have changed, but am available for specific points of clarification or context” or something like that).

      1. Hey Karma, Over Here*

        This. My first thought is that they they want to go a new direction. Fine. Rock on. OP, let it go. “I’m continually brought into these meetings…continually hostile…”
        Why. What are they not telling you?
        If there is a new model and yours is not relevant, why bring you in?
        If they want the same way, but with someone who isn’t you, OP, then again, why bring you in?”
        Physically, emotionally and mentally walk away from this.

        1. Uranus Wars*

          I am glad I am not the only one perplexed here…at first I was like

          “She wants a new direction, let it go.”
          “Wait, it sounds like management wants the old direction, but this isn’t your problem to solve anymore”
          “Wait, it sounds like management wants the new direction, but…wants to run OPs face in how wrong her prior decisions were?????”

          I am so sorry OP, is all I can say. I agree also, that it’s doubly hard because it is not “out of sight, out of mind” when you stay in the same org – especially yours!

        2. Birdie*

          Honestly, that made me wonder if OP is either not seeing or not relaying something significant. It would be worth reflecting on how those meetings are going – are they inviting OP there and asking specific questions with the goal of getting specific info, but OP is instead taking the opportunity to repeatedly express why the new person is wrong(/OP is right), and that’s frustrating management? Ultimately, I think OP’s best move is what Alison has said – provide simple context and answers to questions but don’t comment beyond that, and try to extricate themselves as much as possible.

          When I was in a similar position, I just repeated to myself, “Not my problem. If it’s a disaster, it’s their disaster to deal with.” I’ve seen things I created changed in ways I was (internally) convinced would be a mess, and sometimes that turned out to be true and I (internally) gloated about being right and moved on with my life. And sometimes it worked out fine, because they ended up prioritizing something different or going for a different outcome I couldn’t have known about. I also found it helpful to frame things as, “I originally set it up this way because…” or “In the past, we handled it this way because,” not as, “This is how it’s done,” both as a reminder to me that my way is not gospel and an acknowledgment that there could be room to improve or an alternative way that just works better for someone else. In every role I’ve ever been in, there have been things that I improved when predecessors were convinced there was no other way, and I imagine it’s the same for OP. I find that useful to keep in mind, because I don’t want to be that curmudgeonly employee who isn’t open to the possibility that someone else can improve on my improvements!

          1. Uranus Wars*

            are they inviting OP there and asking specific questions with the goal of getting specific info, but OP is instead taking the opportunity to repeatedly express why the new person is wrong(/OP is right), and that’s frustrating management

            This is a good point, and one really worth considering – both from our perspective and OPs.

            “I originally set it up this way because…” or “In the past, we handled it this way because,” not as, “This is how it’s done,” are also good reminders for framing. And, in reality, things change over time. A lot of the time we don’t have control of those changes, sometimes trends change, resources change, on and on…and we have to be willing to change with it!

          2. Paulina*

            Yes, a request for clarification from management as to what they’re looking for from the OP could be helpful. She may get some direction as to what level or type of feedback they’re looking for, or they may realize that they should stop including her.

            Admittedly, it can be difficult to provide feedback on details if you think the entire direction is problematic, to talk about how to do something if you don’t think it’s the right thing to do. But it’s the responsibility of those who are changing direction to work out the details, and the OP has a new job they need to let her focus on.

    2. The New Wanderer*

      The other reason that management might be keeping OP on the invitation list is that dropping OP from the meetings might look more pointed, like they are deliberately excluding and don’t even want OP there to dissent.

      But since it doesn’t appear to be helpful or productive, OP might be best off just opting out by replying to the meeting notice/distro list with wording like Krabby suggests.

      1. Annony*

        I feel like that might be the case. The OP is no longer needed in the meetings but they feel weird disinviting her. OP gently opting out may be all that is needed to break free.

    3. JSPA*

      How about, in an email to the boss:

      “Regarding changes to [task and process]: Over the past four weeks [or whatever] of planning and transition meetings, I’ve flagged all the major issues, and many smaller considerations. I’ve documented why and how the old procedures were developed. At this point, the new process is so different that the old rationales can’t be accommodated. Details from the old procedures are increasingly landing as a distracting irritant, not relevant information. Respectfully, I think we’re at the point where my input is no longer useful in this format. Though I will of course continue to be available for questions as they arise, I would like to bow out of the meetings, unless there’s some pressing reason for me to be there.”

  2. WorkIsADarkComedy*

    I once left a role to work in a new role where I was frequently interfacing with my old group on issues we overlapped with, many of which I used to work on.

    I made a decision early on that they were the ones who spoke to the issues their office was responsible for, and that while I could advise them, it would always be their decision rather than mine. That served me well when a group of folks came in who I thought made a bunch of bad calls.

  3. AdAgencyChick*

    Yeah, sorry, OP. When I saw the post title and first couple of lines I was expecting a situation more like that OP’s coworkers couldn’t let go of wanting her to do her old job on top of her new one, because they’re used to thinking of her in a certain way.

    But this is a new person who’s going to bring her perspective to her new job, and as long as her manager is on board with trying those new things, she should be able to do so. OP, if you need work product from her and it’s not getting done well or in the time you need it done, then you can address THAT issue (“In the past, the turnaround time for the TPS reports was 3 days, but now it’s 5 days and it’s causing our team to miss other deadlines; what can we do to get back to where we were?”).

    1. Steveo*

      I think OP may need to take to heart that if she keeps raising this with management they are likely to be frustrated with her. They clearly trust the new manager to implement some changes here. Maybe someone needs to firmly state that to clear up any future confusion.

      1. Rachel in NYC*

        And even if they don’t – or are beginning to notice some issues- that isn’t OP’s problem. She flagged her concerns. Keeping her mired in her old job, isn’t healthy for her and doesn’t let her focus on her new responsibilities.

        This becomes a- if there are any issues or questions, OP refers Management and New Person to the SOPs.

        Ideally, the new person would have learned the job the way OP did it before making changes but this is ultimately not OP’s responsibility. OP isn’t new person’s management or trainer.

      2. Uranus Wars*

        I think I am torn here because I think continually bringing them up isn’t a good look. But if management keeps pulling her in to ask her “why”, she should answer why. My advice on this is getting fuzzy because of how she is not letting go, but is also actively being pulled back in.

    2. Something Something Whomp Whomp*

      But this is a new person who’s going to bring her perspective to her new job, and as long as her manager is on board with trying those new things, she should be able to do so.

      This is a really important thing to recognize, OP. The last thing you want to do is (inadvertently) contribute to Lisa feeling like she needs to defend herself or her choices. If Lisa’s manager is on board, she’s not doing anything wrong, so it’s important not to open up a dynamic where that even becomes a question.

    3. JSPA*

      It’s also possible that the new person is someone who’s comfortable winging things. That can be OK! A computer program needs to run right, no matter who enters the numbers and hits the return key.

      A business can accommodate either of the following:

      a) “if it’s Stan, put him through to my phone, because he always changes his mind three times before the order is final. If it’s anybody else, take the order, unless you get the sense they also ought to talk to me. If anyone changes the order two weeks in a row, tell them there’s a $5 surcharge for changes, but you’ll waive it, because they’re so great to work with. Unless they’re jerks about it, in which case, charge them whatever you like, as a nuisance fee, and I’ll back you up on it.”

      b) “we only take orders via our webpage. It makes you choose alternate options, reconfirm three times, hit submit twice, and pay $5 to change the order after you submit.”

      Both those things work! They charm different customers, they irritate different customers, but they both sell widgets, while dealing with the sad fact that widget customers are notoriously indecisive.

      If someone in OP’s situation built the webpage, it’s going to feel like effort wasted. (But, it’s not; the webpage can be un-moth-balled, plus management now knows what the metrics are, using the webpage, plus the builder has those skills and code in their quiver.)

      But maybe management is more interested in charming Stan, who’s a big customer, and reconfirming with him in the most personal way possible, because it’s a huge headache when he makes changes to his giant orders. So option A is what the business needs (or at least, what they want to try). If the new person is happy putting everything on hold when Stan calls, and comfortable explaining to accounting why only a few people are being charged a change fee, and that change fee ranges, semi-randomly, from $5 to $50, then, great! It all works.

  4. Bostonian*

    I don’t think management is doing either of you any favors by sending mixed messages: They clearly want the new employee to have ownership over these processes and support her decisions, but they also invite you to regular meetings to discuss them? What do they expect your role to be in these meetings if they won’t hear you out? It sounds like these meetings aren’t useful for anybody as they’re currently structured; they should probably stop having them and only check in with you if they have a specific question.

    1. Steveo*

      I had the impression that the management meetings were in the past, she said only a few remaining emails remain.

  5. Steveo*

    One way I like to think about this is that it is very healthy for a company to reassess processes and procedures on a regular basis. It is how organizations learn and grow. In many cases people will find that they are doing a process that no longer has any value because nobody really challenged on the why before. If you can take this to heart it can depersonalize the process changes so that they no longer feel like a personal attack.

    1. Smithy*

      I really like this – and would add that another layer of teams’ processes is how much support/money a team is investing into any given team. And often seeing a good leader create effective but extensive processes may indicate simply that more investment is needed. If your process has 20 steps, and this new leader came in believing best practice should only include 8 – then her ambitions for the role may largely involve advocating for “more” to ensure that change can happen.

      I’ve seen these types of restructures happen where people have created work-around processes to accommodate assorted missing steps. The person looking to change the process is often only interested in learning about the process not to execute it, but to make decisions about changes. This can even include “tactical failures” – essentially finding a way to highlight something not working to management to make the case that investment in ABC would have prevented such failure.

      However, the OP should still take comfort that due to the high quality done before the organization felt it was right time to review, assess, and potentially invest.

    2. Dan*

      Yeah… at the low level, I see this as OP being frustrated that Lisa is making mistakes that OP feels (rightly) can be avoided But at the higher level, I see this as Lisa trying to make that role her own, and probably super frustrated that things are getting in the way.

      I’m somewhat in Lisa’s shoes ATM. I feel for the OP seeing avoidable mistakes getting made, and I feel for Lisa who’s trying to take ownership of the new role. I have a feeling Lisa is as frustrated with things as the OP is. I have a feeling Lisa is telling *her* management that she doesn’t see the value of Lisa’s input, and it’s getting in the way. It would likely be best for OP to extract herself from the loop if at all possible.

    3. The Other Dawn*

      I agree. Sometimes it’s just a matter of a new set of eyes seeing things differently or finding a better way to do something because there were system improvements or part of the process is no longer needed.

      I was hired into my current job to replace a manager who left for another department. She put in place lots of processes that were sorely needed at the time; however, these processes were never really looked at again to see if they were still needed or if there was a better way to do them, or even if there had been system improvements that would make them easier. When I arrived, I started looking for efficiencies and found many things I was able to eliminate completely either due to improvements made by our software vendor or determining it was just too much work for very little reward (I held the same job at another company using the same systems). At the time I felt like the former manager would be upset (she was close to someone within the department who has since left) since she put it all into place; however, she told me it was good that a new, different set of eyes was looking at these things since she hadn’t had the time or inclination to do it.

    4. Mallory Janis Ian*

      In one department I was in, the incumbent person in the role did a really good job, was well-liked, and everyone was happy with the job she was doing.

      She ended up leaving due to her spouse accepting a job out of state, and the new person in the role did things differently. Both people were appreciated for the jobs they did, and it seems that people were fairly equally satisfied with each of them. But the professor in charge of the project did say to the replacement once, that he was happy that she would take a few days to implement his suggestions; that the other person would immediately implement anything he suggested and was very efficient in that way; but that he appreciated the little bit of extra space he was now being allowed to change his mind or rethink some aspect of it.

      This is just to expand on someone’s comment above that sometimes a different perspective on the work is appreciated, even when the previous work was also appreciated and is not being faulted.

      1. Smithy*

        This makes so much sense to me. The work I do very rarely – if ever – has one right answer or right process. As such certain personalities, styles, and approaches can better refine systems – no so that they just run better but so that they run better for certain teams, systems or decision makers.

    5. TootsNYC*

      In many cases people will find that they are doing a process that no longer has any value because nobody really challenged on the why before

      Or because things changed somewhere.
      I’ve personally revamped my own process multiple times. Something I thought had to be done, I realized months later was actually completely unnecessary.

      1. Uranus Wars*

        Yes! Or it just gets simplified. If a new program comes out that can get you the same result in 3 hours instead of 3 days…just because it’s different doesn’t mean the result isn’t going to be the same. Or won’t already account for errors you accounted for when you did it manually.

        Sometimes I have to take a step back from my own work, but someone who comes in clear can see it right away usually. Doesn’t mean I always take it without skepticism but it usually works out in the end – and 9/10 times it better the way the other person suggested. We just get bogged down sometimes!

    6. Elder Squirrel*

      I agree. Reassessment is crucial for the survival and evolution of an org. Though this might not be quite what’s happening with the OP, I’d like to offer a story.

      I work at an art museum with a very old collection, an amalgam of art and natural history objects (problematic for reasons which I won’t go into here). Our cataloger had developed a super efficient, super detailed system for managing the records. She could do it with her eyes closed. Except… through a contemporary lens, her system was colonialist and borderline racist. The museum needed to change it. She’d taken on a new role with less day-to-day and more bigger picture and support duties, but was included in the transitional conversations because management knew she understood the minutiae of things and wanted her expertise. Unfortunately it wasn’t communicated well to her. She freaked out about how staff were dismantling her system, and constantly re-emphasized why it needed to be The Way She Did It, because of points A, B, and C. Which were not in sync with contemporary practice.

      Not saying that this extreme is what is happening with the OP, but culture shifted. The museum shifted. The things she set up were no longer viable even if they were still technically efficient. The managers were upset because they felt she wasn’t giving them what they wanted, which was a final handoff. She was upset because nobody was communicating exactly what the needed (until they did, and then it got personal and Oh Gawd it was bad).

  6. Detective Amy Santiago*

    This sounds tough, OP, but I think you need to focus on your new position. I would probably wash your hands of anything related to the new position if at all possible too. Just a simple “Oh, sorry, you would need to talk to Lisa”.

    1. RC Rascal*

      This. Focus on the new responsibilities and place a boundary on the old ones. Hopefully you have a different manager now than in the old role. If so, enlist this person in helping you place a boundary. Simply tell your new manager that your old team keeps wanting your input and time, but you feel 100% of your attention should go to the new role. New manager shouldn’t have any difficulty helping you draw a boundary and move on.

      I’ve been on both sides of this issue. I came into a role following someone well respected who insisted things had to be done her way. It turned out there were some issues with her way and I had far more success in the role than she ever did. Then I passed the role onto Fergus, who skated on my coattails for 18 months, got a huge promotion, and left a giant mess for his successor, Bran.

  7. LKW*

    My only advice is to outline any compliance, legal or other risks that could result from changing the processes. As long as you’ve given them a heads up, using the knowledge you built, then they can decide whether the risk / reward equation is worth it.

    Then leave it alone.

    1. Littorally*

      Agreed. If Lisa’s changes are inefficient or create internal difficulties, that’s just going to be part of her learning curve. If it’s something that could get the company in actual trouble, then it’s appropriate for OP to step in.

      1. Why isn't it Friday?*

        And really, document anything serious you think Lisa is doing wrong in email. That way, you create a CYA for yourself, and you did everything you could. If something goes wrong, that’s on her and management.

    2. Troutwaxer*

      I agree. But more importantly, I think the OP has to consider the issues. If there are compliance or legal issues, I think the OP needs to flag them and maybe raise a little fuss, particularly in the sense of CYA and making sure there’s a paper/email-trail for CYA purposes. Once this is done, with careful attention to making sure that the OP has all necessary work-product available for ass-covering, use one of the pleasant, polite scripts others have provided to opt out of these meetings.

      On the other hand, if it’s merely a matter of internal processes and there are no compliance/legal issues, the OP should use one of the pleasant, polite scripts above to get out of these meetings and – this is really, really important – move on with their professional life and find ways to shine in their new role.

  8. Kella*

    Speaking as someone who notoriously has trouble letting go of things that aren’t my responsibility, I find this very helpful to focus on: If something goes wrong in your old job, *it isn’t your fault*. You won’t face the consequences. Lisa and her management will.

    You mentioned that there are still a few meetings and emails left, which as others have pointed out, seem to be making it harder to move on. Would it be possible to ask management what exactly it is they’re wanting from your presence at those meetings? It sounds like they don’t want you to keep giving the same feedback but I know I’d feel confused if I was invited to give my input on the transition, but not *that* input.

      1. TootsNYC*

        I might make the argument that I should be left out of these meetings because it’s undermining Lisa; she got all the info, she’s a smart girl, and she can take it from here. Having her predecessor involved is now unfair to her.

        1. Uranus Wars*

          Well stated! This wording is the perfect way for OP to make a break and stay professional! And likely true!

  9. Dan*

    There’s one thing I’d add to AAM’s points: Tell yourself that Lisa *will* make mistakes, and that it’s ok. (If it’s not ok, then that’s on her management, not you.) All of us learn by doing, and all of us will likely make mistakes that a more senior person wouldn’t.

    1. TootsNYC*

      “The road to success is paved by mistakes well handled.” — Stanley Marcus, the founder of Neiman Marcus (per Danny Meyer in “Setting the Table”–a book you should all read)

  10. Environmental Compliance*

    Ooof, this hits home. I’m watching my old facility destroy all the work I set up there after I left. It’s a little painful, but at least I can cut it a little cleaner since I’m no longer with that company at all – it’s 100% not my circus (other than them paying me remotely for consulting, which I can mentally distance).

    But it was really, really hard at first to watch what I built up with so much hard work come crashing around their ears, because they 1) weren’t following everything I set up to make the processes smooth and simplistic and 2) just… didn’t care. And now they’re feeling the wrath of the regulators for it.

    You did your best when you had the position. It’s set up a good basis for new hire, at the very least. If she wants to make the position her own, and management is fine with it, all you can do is try to disconnect as much as possible. Put all that good work into your current job, and don’t look back.

    1. SansaStark*

      I’m also in a very similar position. There were 2 of us doing similar work under an ineffective manager. I transitioned to a different role 2 years ago and my former peer also left and was replaced by an employee who has been on a PIP for months (don’t get me started….). They’re experiencing massive delays and blaming the pandemic, but it’s really just a failure of the manager to manage (and do anything to actually help the process). It’s really hard to watch this play out since my former coworker and I had worked so hard to implement a smooth system, but the fallout isn’t happening to me so I’ve tried to just disengage as much as possible. It’s really hard when you felt emotionally invested in a job that ultimately led you to a promotion through hard work.

      1. Environmental Compliance*

        The emotional investment is really hard. I’m not going to lie… when I left Previous Job, I saw the signs with them putting the bare minimum in any cross training, refusing to list the position for hire, etc., and I ended up in a fellow coworker’s office crying in a mix of disappointment and anger with what would happen to all my efforts. And I was right – they still haven’t rehired, 6 months after, they’re facing a lot of regulatory pressure (based on all the phone calls and panicked emails I get), and they’re trying to rush into reinstating all the procedures I put in place. But at this point – I have to shrug, maybe chuckle a little, and send them a bill for my time and services.

        It does take some time to grieve the loss of your work, though.

        (It did help when after a high level firing, the new person calling me to confirm I was still consulting and giving me a very warm compliment on how I was handling everything before I left while asking some details on certain action items.)

        1. SansaStark*

          Wow – a few of your details are very different, but for a second I thought maybe you were my coworker who also got out because this is so similar to my situation. That warm compliment sounds beautifully vindicating/validating!

        2. babblemouth*

          Sometimes you do the job so well, management underestimates how skillful your replacement needs to be, and just how many balls you caught before they fell. When i left me old job, I felt 50% schadenfreude (“see? I TOLD you this was an area you should take more seriously!”) and 50% sadness for the wasted work. I know they had to build back capacity from scratch at high cost while they could just have paid more attention when I warned them.

  11. Quickbeam*

    OP I’ve been you. And in the long long run, your blueprint will likely help the future workers in that area in ways you can’t anticipate now. Its so hard to let go of a piece of work that was effective. But you’ll need to let them fail on their own.

    I once designed a narcotic safety protocol for a unit where I was the first RN manager. When I left they stopped following it. They then had 3 RNs divert narcotics. When the state investigators turned the place upside down, they found my work and praised it, saying if that had been in place the diversion would not have happened. It was back in place, 5 years later.

  12. Jam Today*

    Let the plate drop. If it shatters into a million pieces, let the people who were supposed to keep it spinning pick them up.

    1. Mill Miker*

      My worry is that OP is being kept in these meetings because they’re still expected to keep things spinning by raising concerns about things that will definitely cause problems. And then management is getting mad because they’re raising issues with too many things. Management can’t tell by looking if the issue is “OP is nitpicking” or “Lisa is bad at the job”, but the former is better for management, so must be true.

      I vote for at least trying to officially get out of these meetings before letting anything drop, just to be safe.

  13. NW Mossy*

    I’ve been there, and what I’ve found helps me is to consciously focus on what I’m responsible for in my new role. In the first days/weeks this is really tough, because in that phase you don’t have all that much to do yet. But as time passes, you start accumulating “the stuff” of the new job – different meetings, new tasks, stuff to read up on, and such. Lean into those things with all your attention, and start explicitly setting down the old-role stuff – declining meetings and responding to emails with “Lisa’s got this.”

    Now, you may feel very sure that Lisa does not, in fact, got this. But Lisa’s performance in her job isn’t your responsibility – you did an appropriate handoff, she has a boss to manage her, and you’re not her teammate either. If you keep trying to influence her more than a few weeks after the handoff, it can actually damage your reputation by making it appear that you’re territorial and/or not fully invested in your new role.

    Lisa’s gonna Lisa, and that’s OK. Let your new responsibilities be your guide out of fretting over her and giving you a new area to make your own.

    1. Something Something Whomp Whomp*

      Yup, not only is OP creating the risk of appearing more territorial themselves, but they’re also creating a situation where Lisa may have to act a bit more territorial than would otherwise be necessary to get her job done.

    2. CollegeSupervisor*

      I feel like there may have been a Jane the Virgin reference there – it made me smile even if it was unintentional! Also, love the “Lisa’s gonna Lisa” phrasing. :)

  14. They would have asked for faster horses*

    I think it’s helpful to remember that we don’t WANT Lisa to fail just so OP can be vindicated. It’s okay for the person in the role to decide how the role should be done! Sure she could benefit from your experience, but maybe she wants to avoid the trap of “well that’s how we’ve always done it!” And we you say that you can’t make Lisa or Management u feed tans the ‘nuances’ that mean things can only be as you’ve written them, it speaks to the fact that maybe you’re the one having trouble seeing that it could be done differently. Let her try! Don’t wish for her to fail. Maybe she’ll mess up and then learn a better way. Maybe she’s try something new but ultimately decide your way was better. Or maybe she’ll come up with something on her own that works better and makes positive change.

  15. cosmicgorilla*

    Management inviting you to these meetings doesn’t mean what you think it does.

    It doesn’t mean that they want Lisa to start following your processes. It doesn’t mean they’re trying to send you conflicting messages. It just means you’re there to provide some input and historical context should questions arise, not lay out exactly how Lisa should be proceeding.

    Think of being invited to these meetings as a cc. An FYI.

    For your own sanity, stop going to the meetings. Tell them that if they have specific questions, they can reach you via email. Going to these meetings is only fooling you into thinking you have a say. They’re clearly going a different direction, and it’s time you remove yourself from the situation. If things fall apart because they deviated, it’s now on them.

    1. Sara without an H*

      Yea, I don’t think management here has been clear on what they want OP’s role to be in these meetings. It would be better to claim to be very, very busy with the new role, and offer to answer questions by email, if they come up.

    2. Jane*

      Agreed. Invite lists are fungible, and some folk are willy-nilly about adding a bunch of “required attendees” to meetings that should have been emails. Some commenters have suggested scripts, but I wouldn’t deploy such a thing unless really pressed by someone who could fire me. Instead, I would just decline the meeting series with no comment. If the organizer asks why, just say you’re very busy in your new role but are available via email for any questions. They probably won’t ask. It’s just a meeting, after all.

      In a practical (not emotional) sense, OP’s problem is essentially “how do I politely decline a useless meeting”?

  16. Lady Blerd*

    I feel for you Op but you need to let it go and and let Lisa do her thing. Maybe she is right or maybe she is wrong but that is no longer your concern. You also have to accept the fact that there’s more than one way to do things and maybe there’s a bit of this going on here. I’ve been trained in the past by people who insist that I dot the Is before crossing the Ts when the order of said actions didn’t really matter. Still, I did things as they showed me as a gesture of good will but it looks like Lisa isn’t that generous. If you are asked to provide input on files or projects you worked on before you left the position, do so and then let Lisa do with it what she will. Or you can refer to the SOPs you’ve already provided. Maybe borrow an idea that Alison as suggested in the past and look at Lisa’s actions as dispassionately as you can, or maybe look at her as fuel for you your next zoom happy hour with your friends. If possible, maybe decline sitting in those meetings, surely you are busy learning your new position. So, in conclusion, let it go.

  17. Essess*

    You need to let Lisa fail if necessary and do not get involved. This is no longer your job or responsibility. You’ve handed it off and now it is HER decision how to fulfill the responsibilities in the role.
    Even though you are invited to meetings, you can try to decline and let them know that you are available if a question arises in the meeting about historical information regarding a process but that Lisa is now the primary contact for these meetings. I find I’m often invited to meetings where I don’t need to be there but the organizer wanted me to be aware of them in case I wanted to be there or they just are unwilling to let me move on and I have to enforce the boundary.

  18. Observer*

    I’d add 2 things. Firstly, get out of any further meetings and minimize email exchanges to knowledge transfers, to the extent possible.

    Secondly, make sure that you have a paper trail of your raising the issues. If you turn out to be as right as you and your replacement’s work turns into a fiasco, you don’t want them coming back to you complaining that you didn’t do the training.

  19. The New Normal*

    I’m sorry, OP. It is so difficult to see things get less efficient after you’ve invested so much time improving it. I agree with everyone who says you have to remove yourself from this situation. Get out of the meetings. If they are pushing back and want you there, see if your own manager can push it.

    One way to separate yourself from the emotions is to recognize that everyone has different skill sets. I have a lot of technical know-how and know how to use Excel in an advanced intermediate skillset. Part of my job when I came in here three years ago was updating a lot of manual processes to digital formats. I did a similar project at an old position – I still see some of my work used and it’s been 8 years since I left. But I also know that the person who came in after me was not as adept at Excel and couldn’t keep up with some of the formulas and pivot tables. She ended up having to get back to basics on some of that work and it took longer for her to get info I was able to spot right away. So yes, they have entirely new processes and all the work I put in to those spreadsheets is gone, it is taking them longer to get the info they needed, but that is what they had to work with. Instead of spending my time teaching my replacement how to use Excel, I had to explain what we were trying to do and let her figure out a way to document it. If you can convince yourself that this is what is happening to you, then you can help distance yourself. You are better or worse; you have different skills, and the skills you used to make your old position more efficient isn’t going to work for this new person with different skills.

  20. Bopper*

    If you know there are certain circumstances where her plan won’t work, write those up.

    “I would urge you to consider how any plan when selling ceramic teapots vs. metal tea pots.
    With metal tea pots you need to have a method of specifying the type of metal. That is outside the typical process.
    Also make sure the plan includes how to deal with customers changing their order after the initial specification. I had to add procedures on how to deal with that because we didn’t have a method and it cost $14K in re-work the last time it happened.”

    1. gyrfalcon*

      I wouldn’t urge or advise Lisa to do anything. I would write these up (if at all) as “these are some issues and complications I experienced in the past.” It’s up to Lisa to decide if these are still relevant, and if so, how to handle them.

      And why write anything up at all, if it’s already been covered in the training and in the documented previous procedures? LW says of management that “they are getting increasingly hostile as I continue to explain why things are a certain way”. For whatever reason, management doesn’t want a cautionary nay-sayer, so LW should put her efforts towards getting out of that role and stop giving that feedback as fast as possible.

  21. Hey Karma, Over Here*

    This. My first thought is that they they want to go a new direction. Fine. Rock on. OP, let it go. “I’m continually brought into these meetings…continually hostile…”
    Why. What are they not telling you?
    If there is a new model and yours is not relevant, why bring you in?
    If they want the same way, but with someone who isn’t you, OP, then again, why bring you in?”
    Physically, emotionally and mentally walk away from this.

    1. Hare under the moon with silver spoon*


      If it was me I’d tread carefully here OP, paper trail and start purposefully deflecting if need be, cheerfully let them take responsibility by being a “team player” – don’t get manoeuvred into being in a situation you should not be in and I’d be wary of the managers’ intentions here.

  22. theletter*

    I would say to let Lisa own it. This is her circus and her monkeys now, and you’ve moved on to a . .bigger, better, circus. You’re in Cirque Du Soleil now. You don’t have time to sit in meetings or answer emails from the old circus anymore.

    You might also want to consider that she might be coming in with a different mindset as to what is and what is not ‘work’.

    Some people love to make checklists or to-do lists, others would rather spend that time harnessing tools that automate processes into health checks that are easier to monitor and let them focus on the next project.

    Some people like to focus on different aspects of the 20/80 work-to-profit ratio. She might have made a command decision to grow the 80% of clients who chug along without a whole lot of special processes, letting the 20% who need hand-holding to either embrace the basic services or move on. This is a valid business decision that she is allowed to make.

    Not that any of this matters anymore, you’re running Cirque Du Soleil now! Your highly-skilled acrobats need you. Don’t let them down.

    1. Insert Clever Name Here*

      I’m at the tail end of a two year long project and know I’m going to have trouble letting go when it’s finally live — I have literally just added a private appointment in my calendar for the day after that says “you’re in Cirque Du Soleil now.”

    2. Batty Twerp*

      If I may offer a similar (and mangled) metaphor. You have a house. You do up the kitchen and that takes a while. It’s beautiful and you love it, but now you need to relocate. Someone makes an offer, which you accept, but on their final viewing makes it abundantly clear that the kitchen will be the first thing they tear out after they move in! And a few weeks later you drive past and see the tattered remains of a cupboard sticking out of a skip. And even better, the buyer’s spouse keeps phoning you up to ask how to work the built in washing machine.

      Now, you have a choice at this point. You can give firm and final instructions to said spouse, stop driving down that street, and go pick out a paint colour and some potted plants for your *new* kitchen; or you could keep torturing yourself driving over to show spouse the various buttons and watching as more and more of that beloved work surface is torn out and replaced by a new one.
      You don’t move house and then keep revisiting to make sure they’re mowing the lawn. It’s not your responsibility any more. And if you keep doing that, your own lawn will get overgrown.

      OK, I’ve now thoroughly mangled this metaphor, but some of this really is about framing, OP. Frame this as a house move and you have new walls to paint. Why are you still being pulled into these meetings? Surely there’s nothing left to hand over if the training is finished? Anything residual (the PQR file is in the bottom drawer, not the middle one) can be answered by a quick email, and then you’re free to start adding value to your new role.

      1. Mockingbird*

        This (great, really!) metaphor reminds me of a Reddit AITA post I read over the weekend, where one of the sellers of a house was emotionally attached to it (she grew up there) and literally turned down a full price cash offer because she freaked out when the buyers were going through her beloved home and talking about all of the changes and renovations they wanted to do. Her husband was NOT happy and tried to call the buyers back, but they’d moved on to something else.

        Don’t be that seller.

      2. FormerEmployee*

        I don’t remember the name of the show, but there was one where the people who used to own a home would go back to see what changes the new owners made and then go on and on about how upset they were.

        I never understood that show. If they loved the house tat much/were so attached to it, why did they sell it? Since they were able to sell it, why did they care what changes the new owners made?

  23. Gina Linetti*

    Honestly, OP, you sound like a bit of a control freak. You also seem to think (not directly stated, but certainly implied) that you’ll be blamed if Lisa should fail in her new (your old) job.

    I know it’s hard letting go of these things, but it’s not your job anymore. It belongs to Lisa now, and she will either succeed or fail on her own merits.

    Tell management your plate is full with your new duties, and stop going to those pointless meetings. The more you distance yourself from the job that’s no longer yours, the happier you and Lisa will be.

    1. Delphine*

      “Control freak,” is harsh. It doesn’t seem like OP is enforcing her will or inviting herself to these meetings.

  24. Been There Done That*

    All the feels, OP. I spent 15 years getting a department in order and getting it running like a top. Increased revenue many times over, followed industry standards and set new department standards/procedures only to leave that position for a better position with another company. I still have contact with friends who work at Company A so I know what is being done and not done. It is very hard to see what I spent 15 years building (with great success) essentially flushed down the toilet. It has been over a year and I have to constantly “sing” to myself “Let it go…Let it go…”. I have no other than what has already been given…just wanted you to know I empathize.

  25. RC Rascal*

    This. Focus on the new responsibilities and place a boundary on the old ones. Hopefully you have a different manager now than in the old role. If so, enlist this person in helping you place a boundary. Simply tell your new manager that your old team keeps wanting your input and time, but you feel 100% of your attention should go to the new role. New manager shouldn’t have any difficulty helping you draw a boundary and move on.

    I’ve been on both sides of this issue. I came into a role following someone well respected who insisted things had to be done her way. It turned out there were some issues with her way and I had far more success in the role than she ever did. Then I passed the role onto Fergus, who skated on my coattails for 18 months, got a huge promotion, and left a giant mess for his successor, Bran.

  26. Ross*

    The only thing I’d add to the above good advice is that when transitioning out of a role like this I frequently make a copy of all of my procedures and other work and take it with me. That isn’t always advisable or legal if leaving an employer, but staying within the same employer it has typically been okay. Then I can just take a very zen approach to the new procedures being used, knowing that if things do go astray there’s always a copy of the work I did they can fall back on.

  27. lb*

    OP, as frustrating as it is, I think you can take this as a compliment to your past work. It sounds like this role was new, or at least severely underutilized when you took it over, and you rocked it & have convinced higher ups that it’s a vital piece of the puzzle, and now they want to develop it further. It’s possible that Lisa had negotiations you weren’t aware of; maybe she’s angling for budget that you didn’t have and plans to automate things that were previously manual, or maybe she’s made similar changes before and has the skills to do it without extra resources. Building a process where none existed, and you were maybe flying solo is a hard thing to do, and you did it!

  28. Nom de plume*

    Oof I feel for you! I am in a somewhat similar position – I started at my company where I built a lot of systems and reference documents and updated and streamlined our filing system and created several reference databases in the system. I since transitioned to a completely different department. I left behind a lengthy handover and oriented the remaining staff on all that I had done (at my manager’s request). Since I left that team about a year and a half ago, a lot of people have moved on and a lot of new people have started. I still get questions (although not so frequently that it’s annoying) about how to do things things or where to find things. Today I got a question “hey do you know where you can find X type of document on topic Y in the Z domain?” So, I opened up the folder where we keep X documents and then selected the Z domain folder. There was literally a document in there labeled “Y”. I had to laugh.

  29. Anonymooose*

    I disagree with easing out of those meetings. You should attend them and focus on helping and supporting the new regime, so to speak to repair a little bit of the damage done when you pushed to retain your processes.
    I get that you invested a lot of time and effort into that position which in turn, created success for you and also for the department.

    Now, by stubbornly insisting on your way and resisting the new person’s direction, you are showing that you are focused on yourself, your processes and not in helping to smooth the transition.

    You may be 100% correct that everything is better the way you set it up.

    OR you might be wrong and this new person sees a way to improve.

    You would be correct that, if invited to meetings where your input isn’t valued, you should probably decline to attend.

    OR you could adjust your input to focus more on helping the process sail in the new direction (releasing you from it so you can focus on your new challenge) or dig your heels and not contribute unless things kept to your way.

    You could be right that the new person doesn’t get the nuance of the situation and will be in for a nasty surprise when they try to alter your proven method.

    OR they could be seeing a larger opportunity and breaking the mold to create a new process.

    Many places have horror stories of archaic, inefficient, and wasteful procedures that are still in place because…at one point they were valuable but have stayed on because their creator insisted on keeping them as is and was not open to another person’s point of view. Do not be that guy.

    1. Delphine*

      It makes no sense to continue to contribute to a job that is no longer yours. OP should not “support” the new regime–that’s not her responsibility.

  30. Esmeralda*

    I’ve been you OP, and it’s hard. (Right now the person in a role I had about ten years ago is undoing the key components of the way I set it up and it’s really bugging me even though I don’t want to do that job any more. They’ve asked for input here and there, which I share nicely even though it’s killing me. Otherwise, I’m staying out of it.)

    I’ve also been Lisa, and that’s hard too, when the predecessor in the job focuses on what’s wrong with my plans.

    Lisa may fail. Lisa may also succeed. In either case, not your circus.

    Find ways for your current position to keep you busy and focused away from your previous job.

  31. E*

    OP, do you work in my company? A month after I joined, a person on the team got promoted into a different but highly-interrelated team. And she is CONSTANTLY getting pulled in to deal with our stuff.

    That said, I think that she is not a great communicator when it comes to passing on information that she is the sole holder of… But nobody’s perfect, and it’s not her fault that she was in that position of Sole Holder to begin with.

  32. 3DogNight*

    OP, like many others, I feel you! I love my company, and work hard to see it succeed, including creating training manuals and materials for our newbies. It’s hard to see that work tossed aside.
    The only real advice I have here is this: go to one more meeting. Spell out any concerns you have about deviations, and send a follow up mail to summarize. Then, that’s it. You’ve told them the what and the why. Beyond that they are responsible. (Also, don’t write a book, just a one pager) Now that your replacement is trained, they have the information.

  33. HR in the city*

    I’ve been in this position and it is really hard to let go. But get out of the meetings and keep telling yourself this isn’t your job nor are the issues that her doing things her way might cause are your issues. Focus on your new positions. Congrats by the way!! For me it took having a really bad replacement that lasted 6 months and then me finding messages where she insulted everything from the way I looked to how easy my new job was (it was just scheduling classes- if only!) with a coworker for my boss to finally understand how horrible she was. I felt a little vindication but know that might never come. With the person in the position now I just told her look here’s how you do this in this system. My way isn’t right or wrong but it’s how I did things and you might do it differently. All the steps need to be done but do them in whatever order you want. The second person has been in the job almost two years. It has worked out good.

  34. Sara without an H*

    Hi, OP — I’ve spent 35 years in a part of higher education that is in a state of continual churn. Over the years, I’ve set up programs, handed them off to someone else, then had them vanish completely because the environment or technology changed, and the situation that required them no longer existed. You can’t take it personally, or you’ll drive yourself nuts. Think of it as a good experience, where you learned some skills that you’re now eager to apply to your new role.

    I agree with those who’ve said that it would be better to get out of those meetings, if there’s anyway you can do it. Btw, what does your current manager think of the continual demands from your old outfit? You might be able to enlist his/her help in getting out of the meetings, at least.

  35. The Man, Becky Lynch*

    Sometimes, you have to let people make their own mistakes to appreciate your work. They have to see why it’s crucial before they realize it, otherwise it may just seem like a roadblock or inefficiency to them.

    I have done both my career, both tweaked a procedure and had it explode in my face and also inherited procedures that could benefit from revamping.

    The person doing the job has to take ownership over it in the end. It’s Lisa’s turn now.

    My former boss did something great when transferring the power to the new incoming boss. At a point in the training process, he gave his advice and what he may do in certain circumstances but he made it clear that the decision could be made either way [when it could be, if it was a regulation or something that would literally break something, that was noted.] The new boss appreciated his input but sometimes he did choose to do something differently, it was fine in the end. He’s actually now cleaning up some areas that the old boss didn’t flag as important. Now my old boss is brilliant and wonderful, he did a lot of work, he cleaned up a lot of messes and streamlined a ton of things. He also brought on a team that he could trust to keep place from backsliding in areas that were troublesome at times.

    The new boss hasn’t undid much of anything, he’s added to the efforts we’ve all put into this place/each position we hold.

  36. Artemesia*

    Been there, done that and watched the program I built (and that literally saved the organization financially — it generated within 5 years half of our revenue) get chowdered by the people who took it over without understanding many of the things we built. Some of the changes were changed back when they saw they didn’t work — some just changed the nature of the program in ways I thought worse but no one else cared enough to defend. When you move on, it is no longer your job.

    The best thing you can do here is focus on the new job and ask yourself ‘what would concentrated effort and innovation do to improve THIS job’s operations’ — and then do that. Pour your energy into the new job. The owner of your own job sees you as a meddler and ‘knows better.’ Maybe some of her ideas are better. Maybe she will cause problems for the organization with her changes. NOT your circus.

    Very hard to turn away from something you are so entwined in and doubly so if you stay with the same organization and so can see it. But seriously — let go — let her screw it up if she will or change it which she surely will. Say not a word. Look ahead and make your own new successes. There is zero reward for you for looking back.

  37. TootsNYC*

    This reminds me of the Am I The Asshole question on Reddit from the woman who was selling the house she’d grown up in and lived in as an adult. The potential buyers kept saying, in front of her, “we’ll change this,” or “that really needs to be changed.” They made a cash offer for full price.

    She called them and told them she didn’t want to sell to them. Her husband found out, got pissed, called them back, and they’d moved on.

    It’s hard to let go of things that you invested so much of yourself in.

    1. Artemesia*

      LOL. Every home we have sold this has happened i.e. the thing I loved most was unceremoniously ripped out and changed. Their house — their taste. (I will see that while we made few changes to our new place because we couldn’t afford the renovation it really needs, the changes we did make were a great improvement. I am sure our buyers felt the same way — but oh the lovely wood in the kitchen — the charming deck — the bold dramatic paint job — alas all gone.

  38. TootsNYC*

    Maybe the OP can think of this almost like a sports competition, like the Olympics.

    So in 1984, Mary Lou Retton wins gold with the Retton Flip.
    That move was great! But it’s not done anymore, because it’s considered too damaging.
    But she won gold, and she always gets to claim that.

    Simone Biles comes along and she invents her own moves. She also wins gold, and she gets to always claim that.

    both of them are achieving the underlying goal. But each does it in their own way.

    Racing pit crews: Years ago, they were fast; now they are blazing.
    Runners: for years, runners chased the 4-minute mile, and eventually they broke it. Each record-holder can be proud of that accomplishment, but the runners that come after them are entitled to try to break it.

    AND…each of those competitors relies on the achievements of those who came before them. OP, your creation, in terms of documentation, standardization, communication, etc.–all the things you created, both in tangible form and in intangible relationships and processes–will influence what comes after.

    Try to walk away to the new competition, and let the next iteration try to improve, or simply adapt.

    (but I know it can be hard)

  39. Bob*

    If you are correct and she does blow up spectacularly then you will be vindicated. However don’t gloat. Just be sympathetic. Sometimes how you take these things builds or wrecks your reputation. If you solemnly show sympathy and explain what you created and how they can get back to it you will win respect.
    That said if she explodes spectacularly make sure you cannot be blamed. Keep copies of the documentation you created and evidence of how well you did in the job and if possible documented proof that you raised concerns (e-mails are great, make sure they are backed up up remotely, IT can be nudged to delete things from the archives).

    1. Bob*

      The reason you want documentation and evidence you repeatedly raised your concerns is that they may try and blame you someday. So you want to prove you created the documentation, tried to teach her and attempted to ring the alarm bells. So if they do try to scapegoat you later you demonstrate with your proof that you taught her how to do it correctly, you repeatedly raised objections and you can recreate the job when they hire someone else (she may destroy your documentation is she has not already so thats why you need a backup not on the network or in her office).
      Then if the SHTF someday you remain laser focused on not being a scapegoat and solving the problem. This is where it buys you vindication and respect. At this point you can point out you and these concerns all along and they need to listen to you next time. But don’t over do that part, you don’t want to gloat, but you do want acknowledgement and not be scapegoated. And if they won’t acknowledge your mistake you still get the vindication privately because the scapegoating will be untenable. And your the boss that fixed it.

    2. Artemesia*

      And she may be a great success and it may turn out the things you loved most are not loved by anyone else. I hated the changes made to ‘my program’ — but 10 years on, I am sure few people remember what we did and the program is successful now in a different way.

      1. Bob*

        I agree with what you are saying and if this change actually works out well then nothing i have said will come to pass, nor will it need to.
        However i have often found that when people with wisdom see the writing on the wall they are worth listening to. Not to say they are infallible but i don’t dismiss things out of hand without actually confirming it one way or another.
        Being ready if it falls apart is a good defensive position. The OP certainly should not sabotage the replacement but i have seen this scenario before and being ready for it if it does occur puts the OP ahead of the game.

  40. TootsNYC*

    “The road to success is paved by mistakes well handled.” — Stanley Marcus, the founder of Neiman Marcus (per Danny Meyer in “Setting the Table”–a book you should all read)

  41. Captain dddd-cccc-ddWdd (ENTP)*

    Lisa sounds like a loose cannon.
    Find reasons not to attend those meetings any more, and to detach yourself in any other way.
    You tried to help but she wouldn’t listen –
    – so let her do things her way, and wait for it all to implode.
    She will likely be fired before long, at which point you’ll have a choice to make (as they will be asking you nicely or not so nicely to take the role back on).

    The only problem with this is if Lisa’s “new approach”, and the pitfalls that come with it, poses an existential threat to revenue / jobs / company viability. Does it?

    If it does, you have a duty to yourself and the other employees to raise your concerns. Otherwise, just let it play out.

  42. Choggy*

    I just came here to say I feel your pain! I too am very specific about how the things I do are done, but have learned, sometimes the hard way, that no everyone sees it the same way I do. I’m currently fighting an uphill battle with new boss who does not understand what I do (previous boss did not either, but she understood the importance of it). I have learned that 100 years from now no one will care about any of this, and so have to learn to let go for my own sanity. I agree you should start bowing out of the meetings that don’t seem to resolve anything and just frustrate you more. It’s Lisa’s responsibility now to either sink or swim since she’s made it clear she wants to do things her way.

  43. AnotherLibrarian*

    Oh, OP, I feel for you. I have been you. I have also been person hired to make change and trying to deal with an old guard who does not want change. You have to let this go. First of all, as many people have said, this is not your circus. Secondly, more importantly, how you behave here is going to reflect on you. Having been in the meetings where the old boss is struggling to let go, how you speak about this and how you behave is going to matter. It already sounds like you are facing pushback from that. Stop attending these meetings. Answer questions only when directly asked (ideally by Lisa) and then let this be her circus. Try to think of her changes not as discarding your work, but rather as making the job hers, as she has every right to do.

  44. LifeBeforeCorona*

    One thing to consider is that Lisa may be getting resistance from her colleagues who say: “We’ve always done it this way.” and that is affecting her ability to make the changes that she wants. Having OP advocate for keeping the old system must be frustrating for her. All OP can do is stand back and if Lisa comes for advice, simply respond in a neutral manner.

    1. Sara without an H*

      Hadn’t thought of that, but it sounds very plausible. I can picture Alison getting a letter from “Lisa,” saying: “I was hired to update a program, but the staff are very resistant, and their old boss keeps coming to meetings and arguing that nothing can be changed. What do I DOOOO???”

      I don’t want to make light of OP’s pain, with which I can really sympathize. But when you’re moving from one program to another, you really have to hand off, then ride off.

  45. Alpacas Are Not Dairy Animals*

    In addition to focusing on your new role, now might be a good time to reconnect with something outside of work that feeds your sense of self – a hobby, a relationship, a self-care regimen. It sounds like you feel like your performance in your old role was an important measure of personal value, and it’s fine that you’re proud of it, but it’s not a personal indictment of you that it’s changing and you’re basically doing work you’re not getting paid for by worrying about it.

  46. Letter Writer*

    Thanks everyone, and Alison of course, for their advice. I’m going to do my best to try to get out of those meetings and have been given some good language to do so. The emails as well I think I’m going to pass off or answer simply and pleasantly instead of getting into potential arguments. I’ve definitely been feeling myself get more annoyed as they continue on and yet nothing I’m saying is getting through. I don’t want to be seen a nitpicker or someone who can’t let go, and certainly don’t want to damage my own reputation in the process. I was genuinely eager to pass on this role to someone else as I saw it as an eventual important part of what I was doing by creating the new procedures where I didn’t have any, and I want that to be how the transition is remembered by management (which again is still my management!)

    It is possible that management is seeing something in her way of doing things that I am not. I doubt it based on the day to day interactions, but I would be glad to be wrong and it would be nice if she flourishes in the role as I was able to do. Of course I’m only human and if I’m someday vindicated that would be okay too.

    It is frustrating to know that there will be mistakes as a result of this, and I feel for the people who are going to be affected by them, but of course all there is to do is let go. I know it doesn’t change any of the hard work that I did. I hope I’ll be one of those people who gives an update in 6 months or so where it all has worked out fine. Or maybe it’ll crash and burn spectacularly, since those are fun for others to read at least.

    1. FormerEmployee*

      Thank you for providing some additional input.

      Someone else commented that they were in a similar position and had to keep singing “Let It Go”. Being older, I was thinking “Walk Away, Renee”.

      I hope you enjoy your new role at your company.

      Best of luck.

  47. B*

    It’s very possible that the new manager’s changes will all be to the worse and cause all kinds of problems. It’s also very possible that LW’s processes have inefficiencies and room for improvement and as their creator, the LW has some blind spots.

    That isn’t to diminish the importance of the LW’s work in establishing them — I think it is MUCH harder, and more critical, to implement systems on a blank slate than to come in later and improve them. But this is a real thing that happens in all kinds of organizations, and it’s hard to identify when you’re the one whose work is being iterated upon.

  48. Lilyp*

    For the HOW to move on emotionally: I’d suggest a bit of ritual + writing things out, maybe something like:
    0. Disentangle yourself from the ongoing meetings
    1. Block out a Friday afternoon and document all your concerns about the change in direction and potential risks in an objective and professional way. You may or may not want to share this with management as a final paper trail depending on how you’ve communicated in the past, but get it all down in one place.
    2. Take some symbolic action to “file it away” — send it on to management, print it out and literally file it, move it to a document archive, etc. It is now done and out of your sight.
    3. Take some private time that evening to process your feelings about the whole situation — frustration that your work was wasted, fear of irrelevance, fear of being blamed, whatever — write it all out in a journal or in a file on a personal laptop or talk it out with a friend. Think about whether there’s any lessons you can learn here to take into the future. When you’re done take a symbolic action to “close it out”, like destroying the paper or thanking your friend for listening. Then do something nice for yourself.
    4. That weekend, set aside a block of time to think and write/talk about the things you’re most excited about in the new job & in your career in general. Set some goals if that’s your jam. Get specific about what you want out of the next 6 weeks to hit the ground running.
    5. For at least two weeks after, focus on intentionally moving anything related to your old job to the bottom of your priority list. If possible maybe save them up and handle them at the end of the day or even once every few days. Give all your high-energy time and best focus and sharpest attention to your new job and the most interesting new tasks and problems in it.

  49. learnedthehardway*

    OP, you did a lot of work in your prior role to create processes and documentation when there wasn’t any. You’ve done your best to communicate that to Lisa. You now need to let go and fully invest yourself in your new role. Congratulations, by the way, on the promotion!

    While Lisa doesn’t recognize the background and reasons for the changes you made, it seems that management wants to give her the opportunity to figure things out on her own. You’ve done your part by raising your concerns. Make sure, as others have suggested, that your own processes are documented. I would go so far as to give your former manager a copy of those processes (keep a copy for yourself), just to ensure that everyone KNOWS you had left the function in good shape.

    I would also start to disengage from the meetings. Your input is no longer needed (or shouldn’t be), and it’s clearly not wanted now. One thing to realize is that your former management are now invested in the decision to hire Lisa. They want her to be successful. They are going to give her some time to figure things out, bring new perspective, and put her stamp on things. And during that time, they are going to be resistant to you criticizing their new hire. After all, she’s their choice – it’s human nature to feel defensive if your choice is criticized!

    While you are in the meetings, I would refrain from saying “This is how we did it and why, when I was in charge”. Rather, I would ask questions about how they are going to deal with the risks and problems you KNOW are awaiting them. Eg. if you put in place an approval process for discounts over a certain size, and the new person is dispensing with it, ask “How are you going to ensure that staff don’t give excessively large discounts to their friends and relatives?” That way, you’re not dictating what the process should be, but rather are getting management and the new manager to realize what they need to pay attention to.

  50. PurpleStar*

    I had a program that I developed, grew and managed over 5 years. It was ranked in the top three of its kind in my state. It was my “baby”. I took a promotion to senior management with my company and my assistant took over the program. Should not have been a problem. I trained her. She worked with me for two years. 6 months in she literally left for home one day and never came back.

    They gave the position to another person with the organization. Over the next two years I watched her run that program into the ground. Not only did I have to watch it, I heard about it. From my former peers and state program leaders and the program particiapnts. It was heart breaking. But, neither she nor my leadship wanted my input.

    It was hard. It was a program that did good work and touched and helped a lot of people. Within two years it was a tenth of what it was when she took over. It was not renewed in the third year.

    It was extremely hard to watch. I spoke out to my CEO and expressed my concern on many occasions. I offered to help the new program director. No one wanted to hear me. So I focused on my new position and pulled up a chair, watched it burn and mourned its demise.

    Detachment is the word of the day for this.
    Rejoice is the emotion of the day for all of your accomplishments

  51. inoffensive nickname*

    My predecessor still works in my department, part-time and reports to me. I had worked in the department for six years before he retired. When I took over the position, I made a lot of changes that we had asked him to make and he was dead set against for various reasons (mostly because he was inflexible and hated change). It’s been three years and I have had my challenges, but I’m successful at my job in different ways than he was successful. He grumbles about this and that, but I don’t take it personally. We have different ideas of what constitutes success. When my predecessor retired, his boss (my new boss) was ready for some changes to happen. OP, I’m not saying you weren’t doing a great job, but is it possible that those above you wanted to take that position in a different direction, OR is it possible that since you were so efficient at it they knew you’d be pretty much irreplaceable so they are discovering and developing Lisa’s strengths and taking her position in a different direction? I hired an administrative assistant who’s way over-qualified and his clerical skills aren’t that good (long story as to how that happened), but he has process improvement skills and has really helped us in ways that our prior AA (who did such a fantastic job that she got promoted within a year) couldn’t, and I thought she was irreplaceable.

  52. agnes*

    Continuous process improvement benefits an organization, although usually it’s beneficial for people to spend a little more time learning the business before they start making significant changes. It’s not your job anymore, and I think it would help you to have a frank talk with your old boss and tell them that they need to let the new person do the job and stop bringing you back into the conversation.

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