Imagine the scenario – you are 62 yrs old with only 3 years to retirement. You have seen older colleagues ‘lift their foot off the peddle’ as they approached retirement and consequently either do nothing for 3 years or be ‘persuaded’ to take early retirement with the appropriate financial compensation. So why would you continue to work hard?
Is this the reality you, as the manager, want to create in your organisation? Allowing it to be expected and OK for older staff to drift and coast down to their retirement party? Resulting in the organisation paying a salary for no return and having a negative impact on younger staff who see them ‘getting away with it’?
But how can you create a different reality, how do you effectively performance manage staff close to retirement?
First, it is always worth considering the reality of the other person – in this case what the pre-retirement employee is experiencing. The closest most of us have to something similar is resigning and working out a notice period. Most certainly I have found it difficult to motivate myself during the last months and I have witnessed others struggling to keep their commitment to a professional standard. The difference here is that a pre-retirement employee has 2 – 3 years to work through as opposed to 1 – 3 months! Suddenly it is not so surprising that work commitment falls off before retirement.
Do not give up! There are ways to maintain, or even increase, their motivation levels:
- Talk to the individual about their legacy, leaving something behind that they would feel proud of achieving – either a specific project or training a replacement with their valuable skills and knowledge.
- Paint a picture of their retirement party. State that you want colleagues to being genuine about missing them and thanking them for what they have contributed rather than being privately relieved that they are leaving.
- Talk about the demoralising effect on them of ‘going through the motions’ for 3 years – that no-one deserves that draining and depressing experience, and certainly not them. You want their last years to be their most rewarding years!
- Show your appreciation for their expertise and experience. Show that you value their contribution. Ask them what they would consider to be the most valuable improvement they could make to business before they leave.
Do not expect this to be a one hit resolution! Conversations with one individual, who was settling for an ‘OK job’ for his last four years of work, lasted 9 months before he applied for his ‘ideal job’ within the company. It took some time to get over his ‘What’s the point?’, ‘Why bother?’ attitude. However, gentle persistence in not allowing him to drift resulted in him being re-invigorated with real job satisfaction whilst the organisation received a valuable contribution from him.
Lastly, if working with them to lift their motivation levels does not work and they continue to produce poor work, or display a negative attitude, seriously consider formal disciplinary action as you would do for any employee. You may not have the timescale to gain a result with this individual but consider the message taking such action provides to the rest of the workforce. Simply put, that you expect a fair day’s work for a fair day’s pay and if you do not receive it you take action.