Mentoring for succession

By Jan Murray on

Retirement – why it doesn’t have to be goodbye to the workplace

It is a sad fact that retirement often means that for many organisations and professions a wealth of knowledge and experience walks out of the door along with the retiree.

This of course needn’t be the case; mentoring provides the ideal opportunity for a retiree to share their expertise and pass this onto others in your organisation or profession.

Whilst some mentoring relationships can focus on the development of hard skills such as using the latest technology, more often mentoring is used for the development of soft skills such as people management, negotiation, work life balance. These are the type of skills that no matter how long someone has been retired, their input will still be invaluable. For example, juggling work and family life always involves many of the same challenges for every generation.

Whilst a retired person may not be keeping themselves completely up to date with the latest legislation or advances in technology, mentoring isn’t about knowing or teaching this type of information. A mentor’s role is to listen, not tell. They may be able to signpost a mentee to where to find the latest legislation or information or act as a sounding board in its interpretation, they don’t necessarily need to be versed in the detail of it. Remember, a mentor’s role isn’t to tell a mentee what to do, it is to act as a guide.

A mentor asks questions and draws out the mentee’s thoughts before offering guidance and providing additional options. A mentor challenges, offers a different perspective, another point of view and provides support, they don’t have to currently be in the workforce to be able to do this, but their past experience will be very pertinent in this role.

There are lots of reasons why it’s good to have a retired mentor, but here are just a couple:

Time

For mentees who opt for a retired mentor this can be an enormous benefit. Whilst we don’t expect mentors to want to spend endless amounts of their retirement time mentoring others, retired mentors do have the luxury of having more time on their hands to give to a mentee.

From the mentor’s point of view mentoring can provide a nice transition from the workplace into retirement, they can still get involved in helping to work on solving problems and challenges, but without the pressures that may have been evident in your working life.

It is an opportunity for them to continue to network, and to continue their own learning. In fact, research has shown that 9% of retired individuals are themselves being mentored.

Experience

A retired mentor may not have up-to-the-minute technology skills or be familiar with the latest legislation changes, however there will be many other areas where the knowledge and experience they do have is still valuable and relevant. In particular, the development of soft skills is often overlooked, yet are key in ensuring a successful organisation. This is an area where a retired employee will have a wealth of experience.

Retired employees have navigated their way up the career ladder, developed leadership, communication, and people skills plus a whole host of other soft skills that many of your younger colleagues would love to be able to share. Having access to someone who has time to impartially discuss career aspirations and help to plan how to achieve these is something that many younger colleagues could really benefit from, as could your organisation.

Another area that retired employees can add value is in being able to assist in one off projects where you simply don’t have the manpower to undertake, but which a retired employee could step in and work on, given they have the relevant skills, knowledge and more importantly the time.

At PLD we have already been working with clients to not only put mentoring and coaching platforms in place but also platforms where retired employees can make themselves available for projects and those looking for help can search them out and make a connection.

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