Getting Rid of the Beatles: What To Do When Replacing Someone In A Role


October 29, 2012

Have you ever bough a pre-owned car?  Well, I have.  This particular car had a satellite radio and in addition, the capability to store CD’s and iTunes directly in the car’s computer memory.  I didn’t know it at the time, but the dealer did not wipe the car’s “music memory” clean.  I suddenly had every single Beatles CD at my fingertips along with several other bands from that time frame.

Now, the Beatles and other bands from the sixties were good.  Nothing wrong with them at all.  However, they just are not the bands I prefer to listen to.  As the new owner, I wanted to make the music choices my own.  I began deleting all the songs I was not interested in.  When it was all said and done, I saved 19 out of 484 songs.  That is only 4% of the selections.  I felt bad that the previous owner had spent so much time storing those songs, and the songs weren’t bad….they just were not ME.

It’s no different at work.  Every leader hires positions to fill when someone leaves and we expect the replacement to just pick up where the prior employee left off.  Sure, we may want them to change a few things, but overall, we want to have the job continue without bumps.  It’s also similar when we personally take new positions.  The best kind of job is one that was newly created so that the expectation is not that the new hire has to fill anyone else’s shoes.  When you take over a job that someone else did, you take on all the baggage from that job and it’s hard to know which aspects to keep and which to discard.

If you’ve taken on a job where you’re replacing someone, or if you’re about to, remember this:

Just like my music example, it’s fine to keep a small percentage of the things the prior employee did well, just remember to replace the rest with what you can to make the job your own.  Give it a period of time to learn how things work, then make your own recommendations of what can be different.  Bring your style to the job.

Don’t be afraid to get rid of the Beatles….even if they’re good.


  • Nice tie into music. I would have kept the Beatles. But that is the cool thing about style. It is unique to one person and up to that person to make the best of their style.

    Was there a way to save all this music? Kinda sad it’s gone. Just like knowledge that is gone when an employee leaves.

    Overall…good post. Look forward to more!

  • It always frustrated me when someone would ask me to do things just like their last hair dresser. Eventually, I tell anyone who wants a clone that they will be bitterly disappointed with me if they expect a duplication of their last hair dresser.

    There’s always good in taking on cues from the person you’re replacing and making them yours and yours alone.

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About Trish

A former HR executive and HCM product leader with over 20 years of experience.


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