Those Who Retire a Decade Before They Retire
After spending much of their work lives in the same organization, it is not uncommon for the most tenured team members to coast toward the finish line.
Technically, they don’t stop working. They continue to show up and go through the motions of productivity. Unfortunately for everyone around them, their engagement primarily consists of attendance, not contribution. These team members can best be described as retired before they retire.
In many large organizations, the prematurely retired are represented by a large swath of team members and leaders. They are an enormous drag on productivity and present a significant challenge for those who manage and lead them.
Their impact in smaller organizations, where the contribution of every team member is essential, is even more dramatic. When even one colleague disengages and unofficially retires early on a small team, the impact can be devastating for results and morale.
Good leaders keep a sharp eye out for any tenured team member who appears to be marching toward disengagement. The signs are plain to see for those interested in catching this cancer early before it metastasizes.
Those preparing to retire early while still in the seat begin to fly below the radar, doing everything in their power not to create waves or become embroiled in anything controversial. They start to refrain from offering opinions or viewpoints, often sitting quietly through meetings as passive observers. They delay, postpone, and otherwise avoid action or movement toward team goals and initiatives. For all intents and purposes, they begin to disappear, allowing others to take the lead on anything they are involved with.
Good leaders don’t accept the early retiree’s new reality. They put them in charge of key initiatives and projects and hold them accountable to critical milestones. Asking them to lead team meetings and to propose strategies for overcoming team challenges requires their full participation. Including them in the instructional design and delivery of training others to succeed creates an expectation of sharing what they know and do.
The temptation for leaders is to leave these early retirees alone, as they seem to have lost the energy and desire to make a difference. Dragging others along when they don’t want to engage is exhausting for everyone.
As the popular poster says, “Growing old is mandatory but giving up is optional.” Good leaders don’t accept the idea that some team members will give up and coast toward retirement. They require them to play at full speed like everyone else or they show them the door.
Those who prefer to unofficially retire before they retire know what is permissible. Leaders who leave them alone offer implicit permission to do so. So, who retired early?
This post comes at the perfect time.
I’m currently writing a post about how do avoid a mid career crisis. So, in essence, seeing your post from the other side. The employee side.
I’m writing about the options for people when they get to that point where they no longer want to push onwards and upwards.
I will reference your article if that’s ok?
Thought provoking for sure.