5 Steps to Get Your Staff Ready for Your Retirement

By Bridget Gammage


For most, the thought of retirement conjures feelings of great joy.  Imagine the freedom of not working; avoiding those annoying rush hour traffic jams, basking in the sun at luxurious waterfront resorts, or simply having the time to check-off some things on your bucket list.  While transitioning to the next chapter in life should be an exciting time without question, it is important for you to leave things in good order for those who will carry on after you are gone.   Before you pack your desk, below are a few suggestions to help you get your staff on board with your transition.


  1. Allow plenty of time for your transition: In most senior level jobs the ideal retirement transition takes about one year. Where possible, help to identify and select a possible successor to take over your roles and responsibilities.  It could be someone within the department, in the larger organization, or even someone from the outside.  Ideally you will want to allow some overlap between you and your successor.  This will not only help to ensure a smoother adjustment for your staff as they acclimate to a new leader, but also allow for an effective transfer of duties so that productivity can be maintained.  Plan to spend plenty of time with your successor to help them adjust to the role and get to know the team.


  1. Bring your staff together to announce your retirement: While you may be ready to make the transition, it is equally important that those you lead are ready as well.  Plan to announce your retirement well in advance of your actual retirement date.  This will allow your staff time to get used to the idea that things will change and will help to keep things calm as they acclimate to the idea of a new leader.  Be sure to acknowledge your staff’s role in contributing to your success, and share your optimism about their ability to carry on with the new leader at the helm.  Your sendoff message will be an important element of setting the tone, both for the new leader and for the staff themselves.


  1. Make time for one-on-one conversations: If you have close relationships with your direct reports and staff, create a chance to talk to each of them one-on-one and provide a more personal touch regarding your planned departure.  In particular, take special care to talk to anyone who may have thought they would be your successor, being particularly sensitive to their feelings and reactions. and giving them time to mentally adjust to a new reality.


  1. Be prepared if asked to stay past your desired retirement date: To help the organization with the transition, you may be asked to stay past your desired retirement date in a consultant/advisor role.  While this will allow time for your team to adjust in a more gradual way, it can also interfere with the transition of leadership to your successor.  To avoid getting in the way of your successor, be sure that your role in the department is clearly re-defined and communicated to your staff so that they are aware that your successor is the department leader and you are simply there to assist the new leader in an advisory role.


  1. Enjoy the send-off: Retirement should end in a celebratory moment.  Even if you are the type who avoids attention, it is important that you view retirement as a success to be celebrated because you will appreciate the memories later.  Also, the celebration is as much for the ones that are left behind as it is for you.  People often need the structure of a celebration to say their goodbyes and the memories of the celebration are worth it.

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