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What can I do if the employee I'm replacing refuses (in a discreet way) to turn over knowledge and instead gives it to my would be subordinate?

I have been recently promoted earlier this year to become a junior developer. Fast forward today, my senior is now resigning and our manager wants to promote me. A new hire tech support (who is eager to learn) will take my junior position.

For some weird reason, my senior started performing turn overs to my would be junior (the tech support). Whenever I ask him about turning over to me, he says that there is nothing else to teach despite the fact the I am mostly unaware of his duties because our manager gave us different roles. We never actually collaborated for years because he was focused on ERP maintenance, deployment and configuration while I was focused on intranet sites development and automation. Our projects never really crossed paths.

Our manager does not talk about it and he seems super complacent that everything will go well. He never talks about it and just proceed with small talks whenever he goes to our workstations.

Is this normal? I feel like quitting before the promotion comes because I do not want to become a senior officer that knows nothing about his tasks.

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    When you say your manager does not talk about it, have you directly raised this issue with them? Also, how long do you have left to complete the hand-over (how long before they resign)? – Bilkokuya Nov 28 '18 at 11:44
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    @Bilkokuya I have asked my manager before and he just said that I and my would be junior will be a "tandem", then he smiles and proceeds to discuss other things. He also seems to laud this new tech support and calls him the "all in one" despite him having no prior experience. We have two weeks left for the turnover. – Saudate Nov 28 '18 at 11:53
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    "a senior officer that knows nothing about his tasks" is sadly enough a very common situation, was it because of Peter's or Dilbert's principle. I wouldn't worry to much... – Laurent S. Nov 28 '18 at 12:30
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    "He also seems to laud this new tech support and calls him the "all in one" despite him having no prior experience". Sounds like you boss hasn't a clue & is operating on optimism. I wonder whom he will blame if things go wrong? Stick around, as you can make this job whatever you want it to be, but do polish your CV. – Mawg says reinstate Monica Nov 29 '18 at 9:47
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It happens, often when the departing employee has some chip on their shoulder about the company they somehow think they are really "sticking it to the fat cats" by being difficult during handover. It's petty and pathetic but depressingly common.

Confronting the departing senior could be counter-productive, to be honest what I would do is take your soon to be junior aside and ask them to brief you on the information the senior has passed/will pass to them. It's not ideal having a second layer to the process but better than making an issue out of it and having said senior clam up completely.

I'd also stress that it's important to keep your manager informed as well, this covers you incase there is information missing or that you need to take a bit longer to acquire from the junior after the leaving senior has "finished" their handover.

Is... is this normal? I feel like quitting before the promotion comes because I do not want to become a senior officer that knows nothing about his tasks.

What the previous senior is doing isn't "normal" - however it's actually very common to come into a role with little or no handover. So it's not a reason to quit IMO - if anything it's practice for something you'll encounter several more times in your career.

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    Thanks. I'll definitely make time for a sit down with my would be junior to discuss the things that my current senior won't tell me. To be honest I was starting to feel a little "insecure" towards my junior but then the adult in me prevents me from showing it. I want to foster my relationship with my junior and developing an insecurity towards him because of my senior is probably not a great way to start..... Thanks for helping! – Saudate Nov 28 '18 at 12:49
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Openly and blatantly say to John,

"John, you must tell me what needs to be done with >specific< system."

(You MUST insert a specific system there. Do not talk in abstractions or generalities.)

Openly and blatantly say to Boss,

"Boss, you must tell me what needs to be done with >specific< system."

(Again, you MUST insert a specific system there. Do not talk in abstractions or generalities.)

That's what to do.


Be aware that in software, you typically have to figure out everything yourself. This comes as a shock to many new programmers.


"I have tried to ask my senior what needs to be done. But he just tells me that there is nothing else to do. And everything is ready. My boss is on the same wavelength as him, and does not respond properly. I'm actually discouraged because my senior is turning over to my junior and not to me (despite me asking what to do)."

The answer then is clear. Simply get on with it.

In software you have to adopt the attitude that there's nobody there to help you.

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    I have tried to ask my senior what needs to be done. But he just tells me that there is nothing else to do. And everything is ready. My boss is on the same wavelength as him, and does not respond properly. I'm actually discouraged because my senior is turning over to my junior and not to me (despite me asking what to do). – Saudate Nov 28 '18 at 11:54
  • But "I have tried to ask my senior what needs to be done.". That's not what i rote above. You have to say the words: "John, you must tell me what needs to be done with >specific< system," inserting a specific system, as I point out in the answer. – Fattie Nov 28 '18 at 12:10
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    I guess you're right. Ever since he announced his resignation I've had the faintest feeling that he wants me to figure it out on my own. The only thing that still bothers me is: why is he turning over to my subordinate and not to me? It's as if he wants me to not know anything. I feel somewhat.... frustrated / sad. Thanks, I really appreciate your responses. – Saudate Nov 28 '18 at 12:24

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