The Ultimate Guide on How to Replace a Colleague

You certainly encountered this situation before – to replace a colleague who is on holiday or who left the company for good. Doing it for a shorter or a (very) long period, replacing somebody is not a big deal. You simply learn your new daily chores and get on with it. The nasty part is that no one is going to cover your daily tasks, those boring things you need to perform daily in order to get paid.

replace a colleague

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This is not a simple task when you are a full-back football player measuring merely 150 centimeters with the shoes on and you need to replace a goal-keeper whose palms are as big as shovels. It’s a far-fetched comparison, but I needed to make sure we are on the same page.

First thing – it would help if you knew beforehand what you need to do. This means to avoid being mid flight and learning that the pilot has already parachuted himself/herself to warmer lands.

Give yourself enough time to understand the tasks you need to perform, how to perform them and for how long. The most important thing in these situations is to make sure you get familiar with the territory, so you don’t end up in a situation where you need to deal with a conference call with the Russian partners and cannot find a common language – if you get my drift.

It’s very useful to be able to access your colleague’s toolkit, to ease the process of smoothing things that are rough around the edges. “Polishing for Dummies” guide will come in handy, if this is your first time replacing someone.

Remember you cannot neglect your own duties and that the working hours stay the same.

Don’t even consider multitasking, it doesn’t work. However, if you don’t believe me, try to put on makeup / shave while brushing your teeth.

I realize you are not old or senile (like others), but I need to emphasize that a to-do list will be very helpful. The list should contain: tasks already achieved, tasks started (but unfinished), things you successfully ignored, the number of resignations during this period – so you can discuss them when getting back to the office. The more “detailed” the report, the better. Just as a suggestion: the answer “Everything was fine.” to the question “What happened during the 6 weeks I was away on holiday?” may not be soy appreciated.

Last, but not least, you should consider making yourself available for a while longer, even after the colleague’s return. This will be necessary in order to provide answer to questions such as “Where did my email archive disappear?”. The response “I have cleaned your inbox just a little” won’t certainly serve any good.

Good luck with the take-over!

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