My Transition from Corporate Life to Engaged Retirement
Ten years ago in the midst of our company’s huge growth curve where day to day survival was paramount to success, my Chairman/CEO asked me a simple question. “Bob, what’s your plan to prepare for your successor once you decide to hang it up?” “Hang it up? We’re in the middle of a Hugh growth curve and you are wondering about succession? I have no time for that. I need to focus on today so there is a tomorrow”.
Today this is the prevailing mindset in corporate America, especially with my Boomer generation, as mine was 10 years ago. The difference with me is my CEO continued to nudge me and challenge me to think about, how not when I was going to transition from my Chief HR role in a company with over 8,000 employees. Thus began the five-year process we would put in place to accomplish a smooth transition for all involved.
Not only was it a smooth transition but it taught me a great lesson in humility, self-worth, and wisdom. It made me stop and think – Why was I being so selfish? Why was I so reluctant to let go? Why could I not accept the fact that it was time for me to get on with my next stage in life?
It was fear, anxiety, denial, guilt and good old fashioned ego! How would they ever get along without me? Without Me? It really was how would I ever get along without being the CHRO? You see my biggest fear was losing my 35+ year work identity. I was captivated by my “C Level” success working for household named companies and Billion dollar corporations.
Finally, I summoned up the courage to face the reality that I needed to find that special person, which I did, to bring into my tent, mentor and do the “Knowledge Transfer thing”. You see that’s the core element in this transition I had to willingly relinquish my Leadership and Strategic role and give my successor the room to develop the new thought process. This transition succeeded because it evolved in steps that spoke to the times and I empowered her to set things up as she needed to while I continued to lead and endorse her vision.
This process gave me the comfort to relinquish and she the confidence to take over. All done while a dynamic and hard-charging organization continued to expand and operate the business on a daily basis and in a challenging way. This transition was all done in the flow of daily life, not as an academic exercise off to the side but front and center as things occurred.
I have stayed on as a consultant to the company and to this day still, provide services to them. My successor and I still have those half-hour blue sky sessions but now only once a month because that’s about all she needs as it’s her vision and legacy now.
With that as a backdrop I decided to share my succession knowledge, wisdom and special insights by founding,” Legacy Transitions.” My firm helps companies put in place the process to have the “talk” with those special individuals who need to go through the process that I did. Learn how to successfully transfer their work knowledge, and finally help that transitioning executive set an exciting and new path for themselves.
What we are all about is respectful, mature and successful Legacy Transitions. Now how can we help?