Retirement: The key to transitioning coaching
A retired gentleman was telling his friend about a new restaurant he and his wife recently visited. “The food and service were great!” he said. His friend asked, “What’s the name of the place?” “Gee, I don’t remember,” he said, “What do you call the long stemmed flower people give on special occasions?” “You mean a rose?” asked his friend. “That’s it!” he exclaimed and turning to his wife, asked, “Rose, what’s the name of that restaurant we went to the other day?”
So as we look forward to those “golden years”, humour belies the fear that most of us experience when considering how we will manage in the next chapter of our lives. Incidentally, I recently heard that reaching age 90 is no longer a big deal; 100 is now considered to be the new 90.
And forget “Freedom 55”. I seriously doubt that many of us are anywhere close to contemplating retirement at or near age 55 when most men in the Western hemisphere can expect to live to age 85, especially if they’ve already made it to age 60, and most women will make it to age 90 or thereabout.
Frankly, I can literally count on one hand in the past 20 years, either in my work or personal life, the number of business and professional people of any stripe, who want to fully retire. Unfortunately, however, beyond insuring that their finances and health are in order, they have done little or no planning as to how they will spend their time. Typically I will hear vague, highly generalized plans which include sitting on Boards, travel, golfing, reading, fishing, spending more time with family and friends, taking courses, spending time at the cottage, going south for the winter, looking after investments, etc. These “plans”, in addition to being somewhat vague, have typically not been calibrated with others who need to work symbiotically with the prospective retiree in order successfully implement them. Finally, these “plans” are not necessarily consistent with what the person has been doing for most of their lives.
Ann Harrison, a retirement coach, is quoted as saying: “Unfortunately, most people spend more time planning their annual two-week holiday than they do planning the non-financial aspects of their retirement. Consequently, many retired people report that they ‘wasted’ the first 18 months to 2 years of their retirement – ironically, the time when they were at their ‘youngest’.”
How successful you are at recreating the feelings of satisfaction, importance, usefulness, companionship and productivity that you previously obtained from your work will be crucial to your well-being and happiness in the next phase of your life. In speaking with a fellow colleague who is transitioning to the next phase of his life, he continues to be partly engaged in his profession which requires that he be firmly focused, highly engaged and technically on his game. In his experience, this is where there is real “juice”. On the days he is not working, what makes the off days so wonderful is living with the contrast. He enjoys not having the structure, being able to “book” in any project or activity that is required or gets his attention, doing simple things, but having a lot of time to do it in.
In his words: “You need “juice” in your life to feel alive, you want the pleasure of the quiet days because they are deserved and enjoyed. It is the contract that makes it work.” Have you begun to think about how you may prepare for the next phase of your life? Do you know where to begin? Here is the approach which I started using in my transition coaching services, with on-going enhancements, as far back as 2007.
“ACT 2”: The Next Phase of your Career/Life
Who is Act 2 Services Designed For:
C-level Executives, Company Presidents, Division Presidents, Executive Vice Presidents, Professional Services Partners and SVPs of large business units
What You Can Expect:
The typical client has likely spent a great deal of time and energy avoiding a move to a second career/retirement. Clients have typically worked to build their careers and they have focused their lives on the demands of their companies and the activities needed to make them succeed. Their identities have often been built with their roles as a central part. So, moving away from that complex set of personal structures to a different way of working and a different life balance can prove to be especially challenging.
To start with, the client receives a customized personal assessment and interpretation. Based on the assessment, work/life goals are created. The client’s spouse/partner is frequently involved in the transition planning process given the nature of the change the individual is contemplating. Spouses, significant others and family members are very important contributors to and recipients of the outcomes. The intent of the service is to pinpoint the right next move for the client and bring every resource to bear to achieve it. Keeping this intent in mind, the client receives a personal/career assessment that uses tools tailored to the executive, including a survey that precisely examines leisure, personal growth, values and life balance. These assessments illuminate options, which have, heretofore, not been considered in the fullness that they can now be. In some cases, the spouse or significant other may also take the assessments.
2nd Career/Retirement networking opportunities are afforded to clients and are typically at their level: with CEOs and near CEO-level executives. These high quality contacts truly open new opportunities to the CEO Client. When all the resources are combined, this program can only be viewed as the best 2nd career/retirement transition service available for the C-level executive. It is a world class, very high-level personal/career transition program.
C-level executive’s personal transitions are usually complicated by factors that are not experienced by executives and employees below them in organizations. Most of the time, financial resources are not their issue; however, how the way many observers perceive them as they make a career transition is a critical issue and, most of the time, their spouses/partners are involved. My approach to this client is that no stone will be left unturned to bring this client to a very satisfying next career step. A successful conclusion and complete transition is assumed.
Clients enter 2nd career/retirement processes with a healthy share of questions and personal challenges. The Advisor works to create a totally customized experience, including an assessment specifically attuned to career changes &/or phasing into retirement. As mentioned earlier, spouses/partners may be included in the assessment process, too. In all cases, a rich interpretation is provided to include applications to the next move and the ways the transition should be managed, taking into account the personal characteristics of the individual. In particular, the interpretation addresses the way the client can best handle him/herself during the transition.
Key outcomes from the assessment are
- A goal statement for the next career
- A plan for the career transition process
- Practiced communication messages
This assessment experience is the cornerstone of the 2nd career/retirement transition process yet to unfold and it is a boost for the client.
Building and Applying Skills:
The client planning a career change or planning to phase into retirement or semiretirement may need to learn new skills. The program is geared to provide those skill development services. Some examples are:
- Entrepreneurial skill development
- Networking skills development
Communicating in new ways is one of the biggest challenges this client faces. The client may have fewer/no direct reports in his/her new role. Yet, communications are the heart of succeeding in a career transition.
For this reason, the Advisor spends a lot of time helping clients gain confidence in delivering new messages related to why they are making the change, what they want to do, and with whom they would like to gain access.
Of course, if a new position is being sought, we develop the client’s skills in how to use the resume, how to network, how to interview, how to target companies/non-profits, and how to conduct research on them. Clients who intend to buy a company are advised to seek people with skills that complement their weaknesses so that they will succeed in the new venture.
The Advisor is available to the client on a 24/7 basis and conversations with clients can take place at all hours of the day. It is common for the client to work in their normal office or from home. When a client lives at a distance, the coaching relationship is established by meeting face-to-face to create the foundation for the on-going working relationship and to launch the career transition process.
Key coaching outcomes are:
- A 2nd career/retirement plan that is based on the assessment and considerable discussion to gain a new focus.
- If the client is pursuing a new professional position, the Advisor insures the client is comfortable with his/her resume and with its content, which is derived from the assessment, plus how to use it.
- Also, the individual’s go-to-market plan is developed and refined through the Advisor’s coaching when the client is pursuing the new position.
- And, the client undergoes interview and networking practice. This same practice is very useful in building the client’s confidence in talking about new retirement directions.
- When the client has decided to pursue an entrepreneurial path or purchase a company, they can directed to resources necessary to assist.
- When the client has assumed the new role, the Advisor will serve as his/her advisor for the first 100 days to ensure an effective on-boarding process is completed.
The coaching support for the Client is rich and deep and it creates a further reason why this program is world-class.
About Gerry Pulvermacher, Ph.D., C. Psych. Gerry has worked internationally with a host of publicly traded companies and owner-managed enterprises. MacLean’s Magazine called Gerry one of Canada’s “management gurus”. Gerry specializes in succession planning and implementation, strategy development, executive alignment, change management, leadership development and executive team and individual coaching.