When Partners Retire

A partner retiring is a big deal. They are usually major contributors to the success of the organization with respect to revenue, functional expertise and/or keeping the organization's culture alive.

In the eight years I have worked at the Calgary offices of Career Partners International, three partners have retired. Each of them took a different path. One survived a heart attack but wasn't able to return to work, one took a phased approach and worked part-time for a few years, and the most recent gave six months notice and our team put a transition and succession plan together.  I don't think there is one right way to leave, but there sure are common challenges that have come up each time.

Roadmap for Retirement

  1. A partner retiring is a big deal. They are usually major contributors to the success of the organization with respect to revenue, functional expertise and/or keeping the organization's culture alive. Talk about the inevitable 

    Retirement is going to happen eventually. Key contributors and leaders are not going to work forever. Find a way to talk about what is often a taboo subject, the sooner the better. This way you have the opportunity to prepare and plan for major organizational shifts.
  2. Develop key relationships early

    Don't wait to connect important clients and suppliers to others in your firm. You may not have the time if you wait, relationships take time and experience to build. It’s important for clients and contacts to transition to a new primary point of contact in your organization early in the transition process to develop relationships and effectively communicate looming changes.
  3. Share the workload

    Just because someone is good at something or loves doing the work is no reason not to share. Use the need for emergency back up and future capability to develop a transition plan for critical expertise held by individuals planning to retire.
  4. Pay attention to the work culture

    Success in any firm requires an awareness and commitment to how you will conduct your business.  Recognize the part your colleagues play in the organization and be purposeful about the connections you need to develop and the role that needs to be filled for continued success.
  5. Get ready to ride the roller coaster

    The implications of retirement for the firm and the partner are both financial and emotional. One never knows what will come up. Don't miss the chance to plan ahead and be ready for the unexpected.

If you haven't yet, now is the ideal time to complete the LifeOptions Profile and see what challenges lie ahead for you and your firm when it comes to retirement.

Prepare to laugh, cry, plan, communicate, and transition throughout this entire process. It will be a long journey, but you can make it easier by taking the time to deal with the topics above for both the partner leaving and for those remaining when they’re gone.

Tell us your stories about retirement transitions in the comments below. We want to know what trends you’ve seen when people transition out of organizations. What’s worked, what hasn’t, and what can you do to be more effective the next time around? 

No 'one size fits all' approach works for complex challenges or builds upon the unique strengths of organizations, teams or individuals. Jim brings a wide variety of approaches, honed over the course of his career, to explore different approaches to help organizations and individuals realize their ambition and potential. With a creative, enthusiastic and persuasive leadership style, Jim brings to the table what he has learned from his work over the past 25 years. 

Career Partners International provides top quality talent management services to organizations of all sizes. Their offices around the world help assessengagedevelop, and transition talent in any industry. To find out more about Career Partners International and how you can maximize your organizational performance, reach out to an office near you or contact us today!

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  1. Russ Knight's avatar
    Russ Knight
    | Permalink
    Glad to see the transition with Gary leaving has gone so well. The thing I see as a common denominator of any successful retirement or transition is proper planning. With six months notice, you guys had time to anticipate the vacancy and what it would be like after the fact.

    With an aging workforce (those Baby Boomers have gotten quite a bit of publicity about their pending mass retirement) there are a few good things companies ought to look at.

    One is the Life Options program you mentioned. The other is Knowledge Transfer. How are you going to capture that institutional knowledge? Your local CPI partner firm can help with that.

    Even if you don't hire us, recognize that each person's journey will be unique. Anticipate that and plan for it. 100% of your people - partners or employees will leave at some point.

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