By E. Elizabeth Carter
As I conduct trainings for a variety of organizations, it always dumbfounds me (and saddens me too) that some people are just “coasting” until they get to retirement. These people barely do their duties and won’t even consider handling any tasks that are outside of their job descriptions. Their managers who are in my workshops worry about how it affects morale with the others on their teams, as well as their own level of frustration and anger with these individuals. Needless to say this is a major challenge in every company and organization worldwide.
So I suggest taking a different approach to our work lives. We realize that we want to leave a good legacy for our family but the same should apply in the workplace. As women, we may feel we do enough nurturing, etc. at home so why do we need to leave a legacy by helping others in our organization after we leave? Does it really matter?
The answer is a resounding Yes! It is important to not only create a work environment where everyone has the opportunity to grow and learn new skills while under your leadership, but it is even more critical to develop plans, processes, etc. after your departure. Knowledge transfer is only a piece of your legacy. The rest consists of the nuances on how you not only performed your job, but also the way you influenced and led others. It is the way you handled senior management, outside vendors, and other stakeholders in and outside of your organization. Lastly your legacy is the way you tried your hardest to make your workplace better than what it was on Day One of your career there.
The challenge is how do you leave this legacy so that it is appreciated? I would start by identifying those in your organization (not necessarily just on your team) who you have a good relationship with and have come to you for advice, etc. Ask them to identify the traits they admire most in you and how these qualities positively affect the organization. In fairness, you should also ask them what some of your negative ones are as well. Take notes in a journal and also add your reflections from what they said. The idea is to find patterns of behavior and processes that have helped you to be so successful in your career.
During this time, it is important to start to groom your successor unless the company opts to recruit from outside the organization. If it is the latter, offer to meet your replacement at least once to discuss the subtleties that you have experienced and how you also overcame pushback, etc. from others. Be a resource for them as well as for others in the company. Although many who are retiring don’t want to hear from their former employer, keep in mind that it’s so helpful to others even to just answer simple questions.
Remember, leaving a good legacy is really a gift to others. By spending the time and effort to make a seamless transition, everyone will appreciate you even more!