update: my retired predecessor wants to keep coming in

It’s a special “where are you now?” season at Ask a Manager and I’m running updates from people who had their letters here answered in the past.

Remember the letter-writer whose predecessor kept coming in even after retiring? Here’s the update.

Initially after I expressed concern, my plight was noted, yet the mollycoddling continued with a delicate balance and a certain sensitivity shown to my predecessor. She even kept her business email.

However, shortly after I wrote to you, the new vice president for finance was hired. He was very curious as to why this person (my predecessor) whom he had never met and didn’t work for the college anymore was emailing him with suggestions and coaching him on “how things have always been done.” Not kidding, this actually happened.

That’s when the advice I received from Ask a Manager was voiced (again) and someone really took notice. With the new vice president, I was able to sit down and explain to him how unsettling it was not to be able to take full ownership of my new position. I also expressed concerns over the antiquated processes and how I believed I could bring the office up to date and to a “new level.” Keep in mind, my predecessor was only about eight years older than me when she retired after 32 years in the same position. But it was like walking back in time. It truly was not productive, and somewhat suffocating.

Taking our conversation to the Administrative Council, they all agreed it was time to cut the apron strings, so to speak. It was kindly noted to my predecessor that although her years of service were appreciated, it was time to let go and allow a new chapter to begin. I did feel a sense of guilt, but knew this had to be done.

I am lucky, both the president and vice president appreciate the much needed updates and efficiencies I bring to the office. There are still a few individuals who are not open to my “modern ways” per se, but slowly, after getting to know me, they are a little more open-minded.

Thank you, Alison, for taking the time to read my letter, contemplate my concerns, and write back with solid professional advice. Much appreciated.

{ 105 comments… read them below }

  1. goddessoftransitory*

    This is the kind of update I love–the LW listened to and the needed changes enacted with kindness, but finality.

    1. WellRed*

      Sometimes new blood is the only way to get the old school to move on. This shouldn’t have been allowed to happen but what a great update!

      1. Anti-ageism*

        “New blood”? “Old school”?

        You’re a walking lawsuit. This story has nothing to do with age – it has to do with someone who kept doing her job once she left it.

        1. Grizabella the Glamour Cat*

          Are you joking? I really hope you’re joking. As some have already noted, those terms are NOT age-related.

          If you were joking, you really should have added some indication if that, like /s to signify sarcasm.

          Oh, lord, I SO hope you were joking.

    2. Retired Vulcan Raises 1 Grey Eyebrow*

      Changes only happened because a new higher-up was hired. Otherwise, the OP would have remained thwarted and frustrated.

  2. CubeFarmer*

    So great that LW was finally able to fully occupy that position! It must have been infuriating to do otherwise.

    I’m about to step into a role that has long been filled by a beloved colleague (who is voluntarily retiring.) I’m going to read AAM’s advice for this LW because I honestly fear the same thing is going to happen to me.

    1. Uranus Wars*

      I ran into a similar situation – mine didn’t come into MY office to do the job, but still came to have lunch a few times a week and had “moles” in the company. So that every time she found out about something I changed I got a call about it. I finally stopped answering and over time the calls stopped. I hope that you have a clean break – once I got that behavior nixed I flourished. I didn’t realize how much it was affecting my confidence.

  3. 40 Years In the Hole*

    Predecessor walks out to the tune of “Let It Go.” Well done to LW’s gentle insistence and the PTB recognizing it was finally time.
    May this former employee eventually find solace in retirement.

      1. Craig*

        my dad says he has less time now than when he was working. he does a lot of volunteering since that doesn’t affect his pension. plus gardening and housework and of course getting down the pub with mates!

      2. allathian*

        Yes, my MIL’s social calendar has never been as busy as now that she’s retired, although now that she’s approaching 80 she’s cutting down on her volunteering commitments. The funny thing is that she helps to run the seniors club at her church, and about half the attendees are younger than she is!

        But yeah, it’s amazing what a change in leadership can do sometimes.

  4. ferrina*

    “mollycoddling” is a great word, and I am pleased to see it used appropriately.

    1. HD*

      Yes it is. And once you separate from a company, leave. Unless they contract you as a consultant. The first time old employee interfered should have been the last.

    2. H.C.*

      Adding it to my vocab (and tbh initially I thought the predecessor’s name is Molly lol)

  5. Tom R*

    I’m very glad that you are finally able to start to really take ownership of the position. Any time I hear “it’s the way we’ve always done it” as a justification for a process I know that is something that needs attention

    1. CR*

      Yes and I have to wonder what kind of dinosaur processes have been in place for so many years!

    2. GreenShoes*

      I go one step further. Even when someone gives me a good answer as to why something is done in a certain way I tend to ask. “Why did you set it up that way… Has anything changed since this was put into place?”

      I once lost 3 hours of my life that I’ll never get back while two AR teams argued about the lines that would be used to set up customer data as we merged operations. As in one team used lines 1,2, and 3 and the other team used lines 2,3, and 4.

      Both teams using the same ERP system, allegedly both teams using the same process. Finally after 3 hours of this I finally asked the question ( I was an innocent bystander to the discussion but was trapped until it was resolved) “why does it matter? what will be affected?” The answer that I got… “Well when we use lines 1,2, and 3 the top line gets cut off when we put it in the envelope.

      blink… blink…

      I literally grabbed the seat I was sitting in to stop me from swearing. After I calmed down I made the radical suggestion that team B orders the same envelope style as team A.

      I now use that cautionary tale when I kick off process improvements :)

      1. Silver Robin*

        That is legendary in the worst way, oh my goodness. How did they fill 3 hours of argument without mentioning the envelopes???

    3. I'm A Little Teapot*

      As an auditor, “the way we’ve always done it” is based in one of the following:
      1. legit technical/nontechnical quirks that are not necessarily visible, but as long as we do it that way everything is fine
      2. technical/nontechnical quirks that used to exist but no longer do, so we don’t need to keep doing it that way
      3. complete lack of training/understanding.

    4. Chauncy Gardener*

      That phrase is one surefire way to turn me into the exorcist, heading spinning around on my shoulders, the whole deal. It’s absolutely a huge flag that the process is incorrect, inefficient and totally outdated.

      1. Reluctant Mezzo*

        Not always. Following the law never goes out of fashion in accounting (though you have to wonder some days).

    5. Reebee*

      That could just be a bad choice of words, though; doesn’t necessarily signify change is needed. Fundamentals are as such because they work, whereas change for change’s sake can be its own monster.

      1. NotAnotherManager!*

        Change may not be needed, but investigation is. Someone who tells me “we’ve always done it this way” as a rationale usually does not understand the actual reason, which more than not means they don’t understand the business goal or underlying purpose (or both). When people get in the habit of just following rote steps instead of knowing why they’re necessary are often not able to adjust when the least little thing changes or to take advantage of new technology/other efficiencies. (I also don’t find that “this is the way we’ve always done it” folks are open to discussion or suggestion once you know enough to have an informed opinion about how to do things better/in the present day.)

        1. honeygrim*

          Exactly: “the way we’ve always done it” is not a sufficient answer.

          When I started my current job, I asked a lot of questions of my team that were answered with variations on “this is the way we’ve always done it.” In many cases, further investigation found that the team was following a process that had been established 30+ years ago based on a rule that has not been in place for 20 years.

          A big part of my current job is pushing for written documentation of all of our processes and procedures, so that future versions of Honeygrim can at least have more context than “this is the way we’ve always done it.”

        2. Star Trek Nutcase*

          To me it also alerts me to coworkers who aren’t invested in “knowing” but are interested in simply “doing”. Then when issues crop up, as invariably they do, those coworkers don’t possess sufficient knowledge to effectively problem solve. They may luck into a “patch”, but those also invariably fail eventually.

          This has also served me as a manager suitability test. I can live with “it’s convoluted so let’s discuss after we complete this first”. But tell me “you don’t need to know, just do it” has had me begin questioning my desire to remain in the job. Smart managers realize I am a great problem solver because I invest the time to “know” why.

          1. Reluctant Mezzo*

            Although when you move to different supervisors and discover that GAAP is different with those different supervisors takes a bit of adjusting and mind-reading. GAAP is one thing, interpretation and implementation can be a many-headed monster.

  6. m0rgan*

    I wonder if this comes from people making their profession their entire identity? Didn’t know what to do with herself once “retired” and couldn’t let go?

    1. Orv*

      This sort of thing is kind of normalized at colleges, where professors will “retire” but keep their office for years and sometimes be recalled to teach classes. It’s a lot less common for staff to do it though.

      1. Dawn*

        It’s definitely normal in higher ed, and there’s a formal rank for it. I’m not sure exactly what you mean here, but I don’t think it’s appropriate to characterize it as “normalized,” if you mean it in the sense of “it’s a bad practice that has come to be accepted as the norm foe probably bad reasons.” It’s more like an anachronistic holdover. Whether it’s good or bad for higher ed is a matter of debate.

      2. Anti-ageism*

        You say it is “normalized,” which implies that continuing to work is abnormal. It is nothing if the sort, particularly in knowledge industries. If a tenured faculty member is conducting productive research and contributing to scholarship, there is every reason to let her have an office.

        1. AcademiaNut*

          It’s not just office space – being an emeritus professor means you keep your academic affiliation so you can publish and attend conferences, have access to things like academic journals which are not priced for individual subscriptions, and access grant money to pay for publication charges. They no longer draw a salary, but are generally exempt from teaching and administration duties, although they may finish supervising grad students.

          In Canada, the supreme court ruled mandatory retirement ages are unconstitutional. Combine that with tenure, and if an elderly faculty member wants to hang on to the bitter end, you can’t get rid of them even if they’re completely unproductive, and they’re filling a senior faculty spot. Going to emeritus status allows them to gradually taper off research as they age, but lets the department hire a more junior faculty member to replace them.

    2. Sara without an H*

      I went back and looked at the original letter. The LW said that her predecessor had been in that position for 32 years. (!)

      Kind of an argument for changing jobs occasionally just to keep from ossifying.

      1. Retired Vulcan Raises 1 Grey Eyebrow*

        No, it’s a Jane thing.
        I was at FinalJob for 30 years. It was an excellent workplace but as soon as I retired I never felt the slightest temptation to interfere, advise, or otherwise hang on. Nor would they have allowed it!

        1. Retired Vulcan Raises 1 Grey Eyebrow*

          However, I only ever worked to live and neither my profession nor my job was my identity.

        2. ChattyDelle*

          I retired in January. walked out & haven’t been back. I don’t miss working. :)

        3. Nica*

          At my current position for 28 years. Plan to retire in about 5 years. I like my job and my co-workers well enough, but I know, with COMPLETE certainty, when the day of my retirement comes I will walk out that door and never look back.

          If I wanted to stay involved, I wouldn’t have retired and at least get paid for my time and trouble.

      2. Reebee*

        I think it’s admirable to stay at the same job for many years.

        To charactetize those who do as “ossified” is…a bit unkind.

        1. allathian*

          I agree. I’ve been in my current job for nearly 17 years and because I don’t care about career advancement I’ll happily stay here until I retire in about 15 years, as long as I remain fit to work until my official retirement age.

          There is a price to pay, though, in the sense that I’m lucky if my pay raises keep up with inflation. All my other perks, including PTO, are maxed out already.

          Many people at my organization have switched jobs while remaining with us when technology has changed and made their old skills obsolete. A particularly memorable one was the guy who started as an office gofer when he was 17 and retired as the facilities manager 49 years later. Lots of people, myself included, jokingly asked if he didn’t want to stay a few more months to get to 50 years, and he just laughed and said that his work was done, thanks. Sadly, he died within 6 months of retirement, and I suspect that he was sick already when he retired.

        2. Putting the Dys in Dysfunction*

          There are a bunch of different factors involved.

          It could be the type of job, it could be the particular management (or worse alternatives elsewhere), it could be the mission of the organization, it could be someone who is afraid to try something different, money, an office that’s a 5-minute walk from your home, or a great variety of other things that keep someone where they are.

          To assume that it’s ossification is looking at things from one’s own narrow perspective.

        3. anotherfan*

          Ossification implies that the job hasn’t changed at all in the years someone has been there so no new skills were ever needed and possibly that’s true for some … but not all. I’ve spent nearly 50 years in journalism and the massive changes in everything having to do with my job has kept me hopping and learning new tricks, incorporating ever increasing tech and changes in focus and goals; the number of systems I’ve had to master and then abandon are legion. Some jobs change with the times regardless of how long someone has been in them.

        4. Alpacas Are Not Dairy Animals*

          I agree that it’s not necessarily a negative but there’s nothing inherently admirable about it either. In the abstract it’s completely value-neutral. Particular cases may be very good or very bad.

      3. Ellis Bell*

        It’s either a mindset peculiar to this individual or the overall culture is not big on improving things or using critical thinking.

  7. AnonyNurse*

    Different situation but the antiquated ways of doing things remind me of a job from a few years back. The person who retired had been in similar nursing roles for a couple decades, but had only held this specific role — which was more technical — for about 5 years. She was so incredibly uncomfortable with the job and also any kind of technology so she:

    – Printed out and saved all the notes she made on the electronic health record;
    – Had a filing system of cases where the current status was discerned by whether the pages were paper-clipped or stapled;
    – Demanded that an external facility continue to mail results — like in the literal mail — rather than transmit them electronically, delaying necessary action by several days, when the outside facility had stopped using the mail for everyone else years ago;
    – Recreated by copy and paste an Excel spreadsheet every single day to “work from” because she was so fearful of overwriting important information.

    Of course all of these things actually created MORE opportunity for error. Fortunately, we only cross-trained for 3 days, and I was given the go ahead to ditch the filing system within my first week on my own, started getting the mailed packets electronically as soon as she left — much to the delight of the sending facility, used Excel like a normal person, and got rid of ALL the paper within a few months. We verified with the lawyers that we could shred everything that was a print out from the health record (anything with handwriting had to stay til the retention deadline). Emptied out entire file cabinets.

    1. Turquoisecow*

      Yeah I had a coworker who was afraid of technology also. She did a lot of note taking, like she’d make an entry in the system (roughly 90% of the job was just data entry, but like, we had to decide what was entered), and she’d write down what she entered.

      The system remembered history and showed history, and there was no need for her to take WRITTEN notes. I created an excel spreadsheet to do calculations and rounding to make things go faster. She would double check the math with a calculator or even a pen and paper.

      (I also had a number of coworkers who would print out emails when it wasn’t necessary and they could have just worked off the screen.)

      when she was (finally) let go she had stacks and stacks of notes on her desk that she tried to give to the boss (it took her probably an hour to gather her things when most people took like five minutes) and we tossed 99% of her notes without looking at them. The rest of her unfinished work (which would probably have taken hours if not days), we did in like ten minutes.

      1. Kit*

        I mean, I worked at an entry-level admin position where one of my jobs was tallying incoming bill payments for our A/R department, and I did use a calculator… because our accounting audit requirements, set by either our CFO or the bank, required two matching printed calculator sums to verify the deposit total. So I had to type in the value of each check in a batch and add them up, twice, but it had an actual value at the time. It’s possible that in the intervening decades they’ve moved to a more modern process, but I at least understood the requirement. Besides, those sums just got rubber-banded to the stack of checks so they weren’t being preserved in perpetuity at my desk, they were with the physical checks until our A/R person went and deposited them at the bank.

      2. Craig*

        I double check my excel formulas with a calculator when I make them but that’s because I’m shit at maths

        1. Harried HR*

          I do the same, for me it’s a comfort thing I can double check the numbers on the calculator roll to make sure I didn’t mis-key or miss a number and if the totals match which they do 99.999% of the time I’m good.

          Would someone else consider it unnecessary…probably but I’m the only person in my role and it doesn’t hurt anything

    2. Anon4This*

      They would have loved on of our old admins. They supported a group that routinely received data on CDs. The CDs were not organized by project name/number, subject, or anything that might make sense, nor were they copied up to our ample shared drive so they could be accessed by anyone.

      No, what they did was this:
      1) Scan the cover of the CD
      2) Upload the scanned image to a records database where it was assigned an 8-digit unique ID
      3) Write only the last four digits of the database reference ID on a label on the CD case (and, yes, there were occasionally duplicates in the last four those became 1234 and 1234A – the database IDs didn’t have letters in them, ever)
      4) Store the CD in numerical order by those last four digits in a series of boxes in the record storage room

      I wondered for a while if the system was deliberately convoluted so they were indispensable, but, no, the admin would get very angry if you asked for help finding something because they “created such a good system – it’s easy to find whatever you need!” They also thought their new supervisor was an idiot for not seeing the brilliance of this system and got even madder when they decided to change it.

    3. allathian*

      When I was a college student I went on an EU internship to Spain. At first, I worked for a company where I was supposed to take their card file and create a database of them. I did my best, but the whole system was so messy that with my rudimentary database skills I simply couldn’t do it. So I called the local trainee coordinator almost in tears because I was afraid they’d fire me for incompetence and I needed that internship to graduate that fall. All was well because the coordinator had dealt with this company before, and they’d already arranged another internship for me at another company, and I did very well there.

      Even that company had somewhat antiquated systems even for 1998, because only one of the 5 computers in the CS area where I worked was connected to the internet and there was no LAN, so we had to switch seats whenever we needed to go online, and for some tasks that was essential. There was also only one printer, and that was connected to another computer. The sneakernet ruled there… So sometimes you had to wait a while to get your task done. But my coworkers were great and my boss was also great. When he learned that I wouldn’t get the scholarship for the month I worked at the other company, he arranged for the new company to pay, even if there was no obligation. I got the surprise paycheck on my last day.

      1. allathian*

        For mass mailings, I had to type the addresses on the stickers with what looked like one of the first electronic typewriters on the market because their printer couldn’t handle mail merges with address labels, and window envelopes were apparently something that company had never considered using.

    4. Charlie Charles*

      “Printed out and saved all the notes she made on the electronic health record;
      – Had a filing system of cases where the current status was discerned by whether the pages were paper-clipped or stapled;
      – Demanded that an external facility continue to mail results — like in the literal mail — rather than transmit them electronically, delaying necessary action by several days, when the outside facility had stopped using the mail for everyone else years ago;
      – Recreated by copy and paste an Excel spreadsheet every single day to “work from” because she was so fearful of overwriting important information.”

      1) holy potential HIPAA violations
      2) I am so mad on behalf of the patients whose treatments, appointments, etc were undoubtedly delayed by all of this tomfoolery , OMG
      2b) seriously, this is borderline license-revoking nonsense right here, it makes me so upset

    5. Star Trek Nutcase*

      When a coworker in AP went on extended leave, I quickly discovered she had multiple long-term unpaid invoices to extent vendors were threatening to immediately stop shipping (incl. critical things like oxygen for patients). After working like crazy to bring everything up-to-date, I started really looking around. I discovered she was spending hours making copies of everything – despite already scanning every document into our statewide financial system that had two backups – incl. screenshots of every input she made, emails, etc.

      Anyway, I started emptying into our secure recycle bins two full file drawers (there were 36 of copies) each morning. Once done, I started in on her desk where she had multiple copies of the same invoice & past due invoices, etc. I discovered maybe a quarter were actually paid, and 3/4 were more unpaid invoices in various stages. One function of our AP program was the ability to explain late processing, which I did in detail. There were state interest penalties attached to late payments so I knew my grand boss would be called in to explain by state AP. She was thrilled to blame me (we had issues) and I then got a thrill out of pointing out all the documentation proving it was shitty employee who grand boss had refused to be allowed to be fired. Shitty employee returned to stern instructions by our manager, and ultimately left a couple weeks later.

      Reality is bad managers permit employees to subject others to archaic processes and are ultimately to blame, but the employee is a in-your-face daily problem so catch flack too.

    6. Zap R.*

      Oh, lord. I used to work with someone like that. Had been there for many decades, would not retire, micromanaged anyone under the age 0f 40. Every conversation was peppered with complaints about how incompetent all of us younger staff were. (“Can you believe the new girl had never heard of a Rolodex?”) She refused – among many, many other things – to learn how to text. One day she made lunch plans with a similarly Luddite coworker and must have gotten lost. Instead of calling Coworker, she called the front desk of the office and asked us to page Coworker for directions and then call her back to give said directions to her. She and Coworker called me non-stop for about ten minutes while they went back and forth. (Apparently at one point they drove past one another?) Finally, I got angry and told them both to stop tying up the phone lines. I still don’t know if she and Coworker ever had that lunch.

      1. Reluctant Mezzo*

        I had to teach one long-term co-worker that totaling up a column in Excel meant she didn’t have to confirm it by hand on a calculator…

  8. Observer*

    He was very curious as to why this person (my predecessor) whom he had never met and didn’t work for the college anymore was emailing him with suggestions and coaching him on “how things have always been done.”

    That’s both horrifying and absolutely hysterical. But, also good for the LW, because that’s clearly the thing that made people realize that cord REALLY needed to be cut.

    1. Sara without an H*

      Since this is higher education, it’s entirely plausible. Usually, though, it’s one of the faculty, rather than a staff member.

    2. Putting the Dys in Dysfunction*

      Seems like a classic (though mild) case of missing stair syndrome cured.

      Someone new, and with authority, comes in, and doesn’t feel bound by the culture that doesn’t want to fix the missing stair.

    3. Heart&Vine*

      It’s so refreshing to see…
      VP – “Why is this bananapants thing happening?”
      OP – “I’ve been subject to the bananapants thing for a while and brought it to Boss’s attention but nothing changed. The bananapants thing still causes myself and others a lot of grief.”
      VP – “Thank you for bringing this to my attention. I’ll take care of the bananapants thing now.”

      1. Former Admin Turned PM*

        I had a situation recently where my current grandboss contacted me to remove a section of the microsite I manage, and tried to throw the blame for the outdated information on my supervisor she’d just pushed out a few months ago. I took full responsibility for the site, indicating that boss didn’t have a hand in the details of it) and let grandboss know that boss and I had approached PreviousGrandboss a couple years ago to remove it and could not get any traction. End result- I removed the info and current Grandboss has given me the autonomy to edit the site as necessary without keeping stagnant sections because there is “no compelling reason to get rid of it.”

    4. Grizabella the Glamour Cat*

      I was really happy to read that Predecessor had started emailing the new guy and trying to tell him how to do his own job, because it gave the LW a great opening to finally get the problem solved…and I also thought it was hilarious!

  9. Ama*

    I am about to leave a position I’ve held for over a decade (and created much of our current processes in that time). I have agreed to do some (paid) consulting as the new people get settled in but I’ve made it very clear that I truly view this as consulting — I will happily answer questions and explain the history of certain processes or clients but I am not going to hover over people’s shoulder and tell them they’re doing it wrong just because they don’t do it my way. I think it’s reading so many letters here on AaM that’s made me extra conscious that I really need to make sure the new staff doesn’t feel like I’m holding them back.

    1. Craig*

      we move a lot of our retirees to WFH consulting it means the knowledge is only an email away but keeps them out of the way. They usually only turn up for the Xmas party.

  10. Rainy*

    I’m so glad this got resolved even though it seems to have taken a lot longer than it should have! What a relief for you, LW. :)

  11. Immortal for a limited time*

    That’s a great update! I feel so lucky to work in an organization in which (almost) nobody digs in their heels and refuses to consider new approaches. This situation must have been maddening.

  12. mango chiffon*

    So great that this change happened! But I am saddened to hear that the issue wasn’t taken to heart until someone higher up questioned it. I wonder if the fact the LW was in an administrative role meant that management didn’t take the issue seriously…I’m in the administrative field as well, and sometimes it takes a lot of effort to get change to happen when the people who pay you don’t know exactly what it is you do or respect the position enough.

    1. Anna3*

      It was probably a combination of ‘oh, this is an admin role that old admin knows how to do’ and the fact that OP was new at the job. But having the old admin email the new vice president for finance was really showing that old admin was going loco.

      1. Nea*

        I will argue that the old admin was bananapants all the way back when she chased down a dean to verify that he really had told LW to forward an email.

        1. Anna3*

          oh it has been obvious to us, AAM’s readers, that she was bananapants since last year. However, it was not that obvious to the OP’s higherups, even when that dean was asked about forwarding that email – that dean probably thought it was weird but s/he was likely too busy to think twice about it.

      2. Boof*

        I’m mildly surprised the admin running after an exec and asking them “do you REALLY want to send that email” didn’t get her politely hurried out the door sooner

  13. Mairzy Doats*

    Congratulations, LW! Advocating for ourselves is so important.

    I’ve been in my executive administrative role for over two decades and I am always willing to learn new ways of doing things! I am terrified of falling into “that’s the way we’ve always done it” trap and mentality.

  14. Artemesia*

    One of the things I have admired about high level managers I have known is their sense of professionalism when transitions are made. e.g. Presidents, Deans and such. They have invariably reacted to nervous people afraid of change trying to make sure nothing changes or that new ideas they have are implemented by saying ‘That will be the new Dean’s prerogative and so I won’t be making any changes like that during my last few months.’

    It is low level functionaries who tend to hang on in my experience and it is hilarious that it took a new VP from the outside to react with the appropriate WTF and stop this nonsense from continuing.

    1. Texan In Exile*

      I joked with the pastor who had married us that I would want her to do Mr T’s funeral. Pastor G had just retired and she said that nope, retired pastors are not supposed to do that sort of thing and that they (the ELCA) are even discouraged from being members of the congregations they led so as to allow the new pastor to be accepted and have the appropriate space.

  15. Reality.Bites*

    Something I’m still not clear on – was the predecessor doing all this FREE? Not that I think her “help” was worth paying for, but I can’t imagine working for free eight hours a week, unasked and unwanted

    1. Peanut Hamper*

      And if she was, that really opens up a whole can of worms with regard to safety, pay, and union issues.

    2. Glen*

      even “unasked and unwanted” the language in the law includes “suffered to work” for a reason – if someone does work for you *even without instruction or against your wishes* they must be paid or you’re opening yourself up to legal action. She may have been putting them in a very bad situation.

    3. Ellis Bell*

      It goes beyond mere mollycoddling if, as you suggest, they were all: “Sure Gladys, you can come in and work for free every day.” Especially if they knew she was the old man of the sea hanging on around OP’s neck.

  16. Goldenrod*

    GUILT NOT NECESSARY. So happy for this update, OP!

    Sometimes a change in leadership is just the thing to resolve a dumb situation like this.

    Also: “Keep in mind, my predecessor was only about eight years older than me when she retired after 32 years in the same position.”

    I have noticed through my own experience that these “we must cling to the old ways” types really can be any age. Though they frequently skew older, this is not always the case!

    For example, I had a coworker once who was pushing retirement – and was also the g0-to person for new technologies. She would get excited about the changes, and make sure she got up to speed and shared her knowledge with others. It’s truly all about an internal attitude rather than chronological age.

    Great update!!

  17. Admin*

    Personally, I’d like to hear more details about the new fangled innovations you brought in, LW!!

  18. Abogado Avocado*

    LW: Good on you! Sounds like you seized the moment and helped your Bartelby finally exit the stage and, ideally, accept her new life.

    Your initial email got me started on retirement planning (yes, it’s a thing) for a couple years down the road and, I have to say, it’s been very helpful in readying myself for the life transition that retirement is. I’ve gained a thorough understanding of my finances and healthcare needs, and am planning interesting and time-consuming projects (hobbies, volunteering and travel) that will keep me engaged in the world at large. This has helped me realize that I will be happy to leave my job behind, even though I love my profession, my work and my colleagues, and go on to new projects. Before this, I hadn’t thought much, if at all, about how I’d make the change, but now that it’s getting closer, I’m actually anticipating it. So, thank you!

    1. SarahM*

      This is such a good idea. I was a manager for three years and I had two retirements, both of which were nightmares. I recommend everyone do a pre-retirement course or planning with a professional to help.

    2. Goldenrod*

      “I’ve gained a thorough understanding of my finances and healthcare needs, and am planning interesting and time-consuming projects (hobbies, volunteering and travel)”

      More people should do this!

  19. Bookworm*

    Yay, OP! I remember this and found it weird. Glad you were ultimately supported and your predecessor has been finally swept out the door.

  20. Captain dddd-cccc-ddWdd*

    They had to take it to the “Adminstrative Council” to be able to tell someone, who doesn’t work there any more and is posing some risks (information access, etc) to go away – and to shut down her access (which should have been done first thing)?! It must be the world’s most conflict averse or bureaucratic workplace…

    It’s a happy update for OP and I’m glad you are finally rid of her, but what a frustrating place to work if all their operations move so slowly!

  21. Craig*

    we move a lot of our retirees to WFH consulting it means the knowledge is only an email away but keeps them out of the way. They usually only turn up for the Xmas party.

  22. Jaid*

    My 84-year-old dad’s been retired for a decade at least, and still has Zoom and lunch meetings with ex-coworkers. I overheard one, and fortunately, there wasn’t much shop talk.
    Right now, I’m getting him to shred old documents related to work (project notes from the 80’s, why????).

    For me, I’m gonna look for a place to make a bonfire. ;-)

  23. JP*


    I got this far and was already immensely pleased with this update. This word needs to make a comeback.

  24. Smurfette*

    Great news, LW! ♥︎

    Can’t believe how bonkers the whole situation was though. I’ve never worked in an environment where this would be tolerated.

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