Warum Manager den Ruhestand fürchten

4. März 2014
Ruhestand: Manager haben Angst vor der Bedeutungslosigkeit
DPA

Ruhestand: Manager haben Angst vor der Bedeutungslosigkeit

3. Teil: Angst vor dem Älterwerden

It's inevitable that top executives who have placed work at the center of their entire adult lives will be devastated when power dynamics shift and a named-but-not-yet-in-office successor begins to win converts to his or her very different dream for the future of the organization. Like an old lion they will lash out in an attempt to put ambitious ladder-climbers in their place. The wit who said the primary task of a CEO is to find his or her likely successor and kill the bastard had a point: that "bastard" stands to destroy the outgoing CEO's most cherished dreams.

These fears are accentuated by the need all of us have to leave behind a legacy: leaving a reminder of one's accomplishments can be equated symbolically with defeating death. Many top executives question whether their successors can be relied on to respect the monument that took them so long to build.

Most companies are woefully negligent in their understanding of the psychological dynamics of retirement. The default mode is simply to abandon people on the verge of retirement, giving them little or no help in preparing for such a critical life change. There is, I feel, an opportunity here. No one can stop executives from aging, but companies can give them a transition to retirement - and help themselves in the process.

The case of Ronald, former head of Asia of a global information technology firm, illustrates what companies can do. In this company, the VP for talent management had been very eager to offer special work arrangements for hard-to-replace, experienced executives approaching the mandatory retirement age.

With the support of the group CEO, she had introduced a flexible, phased retirement policy that allowed senior executives approaching normal retirement age to reduce the hours that they worked, or work for the organization in a different capacity after retirement. It gave retirees the opportunity to transition gradually, in contrast to the abrupt termination common in many companies.

In this instance, Ronald became a special advisor to the group CEO with a brief to help develop the company's African markets. The arrangement not only helped the Group CEO to develop a strategy and organization for a fast-growing region, it gave space for both Ronald and his wife to experiment with non-workplace activities without having him leave the workplace altogether. What's more, Ronald and his wife had always had a special interest in Africa, making Ronald's ongoing work something both could engage in.

Arrangements like Ronald's are win-wins for both companies and retirees. Given the damage that can be caused by a powerful executive's struggle to retain power and remain relevant, managing slow retirements could be at least as important as onboarding new hires quickly.

Zum Autor
Manfred F.R. Kets de Vries is the Distinguished Professor of Leadership Development and Organizational Change at INSEAD in France, Singapore, and Abu Dhabi. His most recent book is The Hedgehog Effect: The Secrets of Building High Performance Teams (Wiley, 2011).

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Kommentare
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thomasholzer 11.03.2014

Gute Idee!
Es kommt auf die Beteiligten an! Es ist ein gewaltiger Unterschied, ob ich als bisheriger Manager und "Macher" die Rolle des "Beraters" annehmen kann. Als Manager bin ich verantwortlich für Umsetzung, als Berater gebe ich Empfehlungen! Entscheidend ist auch, dass sich ehemalige Manager in ihrer Beraterrolle ihren Nachfolgern gegenüber zurücknehmen können, denn diese sind nun die "Macher"! Nur dann kann der Wissenstransfer zum Wohle aller Beteiligten sinnvoll gestaltet werden.

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