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What Are the Options for The “Retiring” Executive?

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What Are the Options for The "Retiring" Executive?

Retiring? You’ve got to have a plan. Retiring and leaving work, it’s as inevitable as death and paying taxes.

But even when carefully planned, the reality of leaving company leadership quite often is not that easy. That leadership role and your success in business has become your identity. It’s hard to give that up. That is why it’s very important to think about how you are going to feel at retirement and what you are going to do with the rest of your life. It is wise to do this much sooner than you might think.

The Planning Process

Your financial wellbeing is of course your first priority. Your CPA, your financial advisor and a good tax attorney must be amongst your trusted advisers. Then you can turn your attention to other factors.

Have you thought about the psychological impact retirement might have. How will you feel not going to the office every morning? Here again planning becomes a factor. What will you do with that time? Will your focus be on travel, hobbies, volunteer work, or perhaps starting a new venture?

For some the right answer may be providing support to other companies by serving on boards. You continue to use your expertise and you’ve created another income stream to enhance retirement. Keep in mind those board commitments may be time-consuming. You will want to get a buy-in from family members who may have other ideas about how you should spend retirement years.

Whatever you decide, make certain you find something you enjoy. The happiest retirees most often are the men and women who continue making positive contributions to their community and the world.

The Retirement Process

Make your retirement plans known at work in stages. Early on, perhaps six months in advance, let management know of your plans and desired date of departure. You will want to share the decision with your own staff and closest colleagues before news of your planned retirement hits the grapevine. Send personal notes to important colleagues and clients.

Once a search committee is established to find your successor, be helpful. Perhaps the committee would welcome your ideas about critical job responsibilities and the skills needed by the ideal candidate. Be a consultant, but do not become actively involved in the search. Should the committee’s ultimate selection not succeed, you do not want your fingerprints on the project.

Finally, do not burn bridges. Perhaps a useful and lucrative second act will be that of a consultant for the company you are leaving.

Making the Transition Work

Actively work to make the transition to your successor successful. Begin knowledge sharing. Make introductions to key people in your organization as well as to important clients. Do everything possible to make certain the new executive has the background and the recommendations needed to understand the climate and the culture of the organization. Realize that all of your recommendations may not be accepted, but be confident that you’ve done all in your power to make the transition work.

Finally, here’s a reminder. Don’t put off building a business plan for yourself in Life 2.0. For some executives one of the hardest parts of retiring is reinventing oneself, deciding what to do next.

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