How to Train Your Replacement as a Support Tech
Training your replacement as a support tech involves numerous considerations. Sometimes you're given enough time, and occasionally you aren't. You might have a qualified, capable replacement — or you might question HR's choice in the quality of the candidate they hired. Regardless of the circumstances, you should give your best, but that isn't always as simple as it sounds.
In this article, we'll walk through how to handle your personal motivation, the techniques you should use, and how to navigate your company's policies on the way out the door.
Your Motivation for Training Your Replacement
It's helpful to understand how crucial your mindset is when entering a training environment. The quality of your instruction can vary dramatically depending on factors like whether this is a voluntary move, if you approve of your replacement, and whether you feel like you've been given sufficient time and resources to impart everything before heading out the door.
The first thing to remember is that your supervisor and coworkers will be references in the future, regardless of whether you've asked them to be on the list of references you pass on to employers. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) states that the typical person will hold 12 jobs over their career, switching positions an average of every four years. The chances that someone you work with now will be in a position to impact your career at some point in the future are very high, so you want to do everything you can to leave on good terms with everyone. Even if you've had conflicts with some members of your team, your replacement is going to impact the people you do like, so set him (and therefore, everyone else) up for success.
Your replacement will typically be earlier in their career than you are. There are few more powerful business principles than a word-of-mouth recommendation, and how you interact with your replacement can impact the rest of your career. Taking a personal interest in his success and training him as if he was going to report to you will give him the best possible chances of doing a good job. Regardless of what happens with his interactions with your supervisor and the rest of your team after you leave, he'll remember that you did right by him — and that's a very powerful thing.
If things go bad with your replacement, one of the first people your company will think of is you. Whether they ask for a recommendation, offer your old job back, or request that you return as a consultant, there's a distinct possibility that a business opportunity could open for you. Don't proactively close that door by making the last few weeks on your job memorable as a subpar effort on your part. Do your best and walk out the door with the most positive reputation possible.
Leveraging the Best Practices
The first thing you should do is clarify expectations with your supervisor. Does he want you to spend as much time as you can between here and your last day in training mode, regardless of how much gets accomplished? Does he have specific milestones he wants you to achieve? Communication is key for both sides.
If the expectations are reasonable, make every effort to fulfill them. If they aren't, make that clear as early as possible. You don't want to have the blame for subpar training to be pinned on you if you can help it, and clarifying the resources you'll need to reach his expectations is crucial in ensuring fair treatment.
After clarifying expectations, take your trainee through the office and introduce him to everyone with whom he'll be interacting and supporting. This allows you to tacitly endorse him while establishing the connections he'll need to be successful. It creates a welcoming atmosphere for him and demonstrates your responsibility to the rest of your organization.
Once you begin working with your replacement, take notes for him and in front of him. We commonly expect the student to take notes, but he could be so new to the position that he's still trying to remember where the bathroom and water fountain are. Expecting him to grasp everything at first mention, retain it, and utilize it when needed in the correct context is often unrealistic. As you mention concepts and items that are crucial, make a note of them. You're actively creating a reference file for him, which allows him to focus on observing and asking questions exclusively during the training period.
We tend to focus on passing on hard facts and knowledge. While this is crucial, don't forget to teach him the culture of your team and organization as well. Sometimes knowing how to deal with certain individuals or the timelines his new supervisor is most comfortable with can make a more substantial difference in his success than cataloging software licenses and renewal dates, which he can easily find on his own.
Operating Within Your Company's Policies
Don't violate your company's policies, for good or for bad. When you sit down with your boss to discuss training expectations, you might discover that it will take twice the amount of time that you have remaining. Don't kill yourself by working 16-hour days to reach an unrealistic goal. Make your concerns known, ask for the resources you need, and then be okay with whatever the answer is.
Fighting your boss isn't how you want to be remembered as you walk out the door. Sometimes you'll be leaving your current company under less than optimal circumstances through no fault of your own. If your supervisor is making calls that will negatively impact the company, don't try to undermine him. Support him in every way you can, but at the end of the day, let him be responsible for the calls he makes, for better or worse.
Remember that you're not responsible for ensuring your replacement's success in your job. Your job is to set him up for success, but whether that happens isn't up to you. His results will largely be determined by soft skills, not hard skills; and these are cultivated, not taught. Consider this article on the 12 qualities of successful support techs. Notice that none of the 12 are things you can teach your replacement over the course of a few weeks.
Sometimes it's useful to flip the scenario: rather than attempting to outline an exhaustive list of the things that will make someone successful as a support tech, it can be valuable to identify the things that will get him in trouble, as this article does. Of the ten factors listed, none of them are things you'll be able to teach.
Finally, remember that you need to take care of yourself. For example, let's say that your company doesn't pay out sick leave, and you have 24 hours stored up. It's normal for people to call out for their last few shifts to use the benefits they've earned. If you don't do this, you're essentially funding the last three shifts you work to finance training your replacement, and you shouldn't undermine yourself to do so. Your boss might not be happy about this, but have a frank, upfront conversation about how your actions align with company policy. Make it clear that you're willing to support him however you can, but you're not going to sacrifice your own benefits to do so.
Be Remembered on Your Terms
We all want people to remember us fondly: as hard workers, as cooperative peers, and as individuals who always put our best foot forward. Your last days on the job, regardless of whether you're leaving an organization or being promoted internally within the company, should be characterized by these behaviors.
Train your replacement the way you would like to be trained if your situations were reversed: invest in his future and set him and your team up for success. Proactively clarify expectations with your supervisor and make any needs known, then always operate within company policy. Doing your absolute best in your last few weeks isn't always easy, but it's always worth it.