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Ask a Boss – Can I Have a Guy I’m Firing Interview His Replacement?

A reader writes:

I manage a team that supports IT for a very large corporation. On this team of 10 people, I have 2 people with skills to support a particular product, John and Jenny. I have asked John, with the stronger skills, to train the rest of the team, so that we have less risk that we will have no one to support the product at some given time (for example, if one person is on vacation and the other falls ill). John has refused to train the others, saying that it will hurt his job security. He is also a negative influence on the team, causing drama and strife. I have clearly told him that his lack of teamwork and attitude are not acceptable, but he is not changing and it’s hurting morale. His coworker, Jenny, is much more of a team player, but is generally loyal to John.

I want to replace John, but I don’t want to leave Jenny with the sole responsibility to support this product. I have a contractor in mind who has the right skills on paper, but I want to have someone with these technical skills interview him to make sure he has the skills. Can I have John interview him for skills? I could have Jenny do it, but she is loyal to John, so I’m thinking that result won’t be much different.

I’ve tried to be direct with John, and I did tell him that training was part of his job and if he wouldn’t do it, I would get someone else who would. So even if I were to come up with some excuse for why I’m bringing on a contractor with his same skill, I think he would be able to figure out that his days on the team are numbered–especially since he thinks being one of the very few with his skill gives him job security. (In my mind, his unwillingness to train his coworkers was the last straw in my decision to let him go–so the opposite of job security.)

Wow. John sounds like a real piece of shit. So it probably for the best that you’re firing him. That said, how do we go about the interview process without him knowing what you’re doing, that’s the question, right?

Your answer here is pretty straightforward. Who cares if John knows you’re replacing him. He’s willingly not doing his job. Last time I checked, the first bullet on most job descriptions states “You’ll do the job you’re being hired for.” If John’s not gonna do his job, can his ass.

It’s pretty straightforward that you told John you’d fire him if he’s going to be an asshole. That being said, this now is your problem. Why do you care what John thinks? The guy seems pretty awful, and therefore, you should have him interview his own replacement. What’s he going to do, complain to you? He’s made his own bed, now let him lie in it.

If you couldn’t tell by my above reply, I hate John and people like John. Why do you have to be so difficult, John? Is being a terrible coworker something you pride yourself in? You’d better change that up real quick for the next job. If you keep doing this I have a feeling you’ll be out of work for a loooong time. Rule number one of working in an office is to do your job. Rule number 2: don’t alienate yourself and make your coworkers hate you. If you do that, you no longer have references and you’ll end up interviewing your own replacement. Don’t be a John.