It is a capital mistake to theorize before one has data. Insensibly one begins to twist facts to suit theories, instead of theories to suit facts
- Sir Arthur Doyle
Regardless of the condition under which your predecessor left the office, no matter how distasteful or dishonorable, you should neither encourage nor tolerate disrespectful comments about him or her. Bad remarks will not change past events or serve to further the employees’ understanding of the situation. It may most probably, tarnish your stature before your subordinates.
It is rare to find someone taking over an office without demanding remarks against the former holder of the office. One reason for this is self-aggrandizement or self-gratification. People feel they have been appointed to the post because the former holder was incapable. They always feel that they have a lot more to do because there was nothing to build on. These are not true. Even if the former office holder did not do anything, he had created some files, or even warmed the seat sufficiently well that the organization decided to maintain the post.
We should understand that somebody is appointed to a position because he is considered to be good. If he is not good, he should not have been appointed in the first place. If you, after having been appointed do a good job that was expected of you otherwise the person you replaced should have been retained. Once you are given the job, there is no need complaining that the one you replaced did not work well.
The best approach is to try to build on whatever infrastructure that you find, however, feeble. Once you assume responsibility of an office, you are held responsible for the success or failure of the functions of the post. The former holder will no longer be held responsible. You may discredit yourself by continually blaming your predecessor.
This problem will not arise if there is a good succession plan. Premature departure of a serving staff, leaving a post vacant without an immediate successor, often leads to confusion in leadership. Since departure may come prematurely, without warning or preparation, it is always prudent to have someone well prepared and ready to assume leadership role at any time. An in-house successor will have less complaints than an outsider.
It is amazing what you can accomplish if you do not care who gets the credit
- Harry S Truman