Fighting the Ghosts of Beloved Employees Past

How to fill the shoes and step out of the shadow of a previous employee.

How to fill the shoes and step out of the shadow of a previous employee

[Read: Managing Mashup: How to Be a Boss to Different Types of Workers]

Existing Employees ...

Incumbent employees must also be tolerant – and flexible – to the differences between past and future workers. "It's kind of like dating," Crawford explains. "You have to realize that this new person could have a completely different skill set and personality type. There's a dance that you do when you're getting used to somebody, and you can't assume off the bat that it's going to fit right."

Crawford also advises showing some sensitivity to the apprehension the office newbie must feel and using a little tact. "Speak mindfully of your former colleague. You want to be careful to not make comparisons because that's a little ridiculous and like playground antics," she says. "If you're going to talk about that former worker's qualities, try to do so by also referencing the qualities of the current employee."

Missing a former colleague can be particularly palpable if the co-worker who moved on played an integral role in how you do your job – for example, if the departed colleague was your boss. Adjusting to a new manager can be rocky, but it's still important to be objective. "You have to be really fair, and judge [a new boss] from the perspective of whether they're a good manager," Kay says. "You can't impose personal agendas and prejudices that you might carry from the previous boss and previous relationship."