Lessons Learned from the Boss – Part 1 “Work yourself out of a Job”

Succession planningYour work manager has profound influence over your professional development. A great manager can have a positive impact on your growth in skills, knowledge, and attitude. When a manager takes a genuine interest in the success of the employee, that manager will invest time and energy into developing employees in their current position while preparing them for advancement. On the other hand, a terrible manager will have a negative impact on the professional development of the employee, which also causes high turnover rates in a company. When I find high turnover rates within a company, a majority of the time it is the fault of a terrible manager. People truly do quit managers, not jobs.

During my 34 years of work experiences, I have been privileged to learn from some great bosses. However, I have also had the opportunity to learn valuable lessons from a terrible boss. Take time to further your professional development by learning from each person you report to at work. In the long run, these lessons will prepare you to lead others and become a great manager.

I recall one great lesson I learned from a great boss—prepare your successor by working yourself out of a job. Unfortunately my boss learned this lesson the hard way, but her experience made a profound impact on me. I began to think differently about my obligations to the professional development of my direct reports.

My boss was up for a VP promotion. She had prepared for the promotion by working hard, building a successful training and quality department across multiple locations. I will never forget the day she got the news that she did not get the promotion. She failed to train an internal successor to move into her current position. The department and company would have suffered negative consequences by not having the proper employees aligned to take over specific roles. That was an “Aha” moment for both of us and a hard, but valuable lesson learned. We immediately began to prepare the whole team for advancement. We were basically working ourselves out of a job and training each of our direct reports to do the same. A year later, she received the promotion. I was then promoted into her position and others within our department also advanced. I learned a great lesson from a great boss. Invest in people and prepare them for advancement.