At first glance, it might be tempting to believe that a manager approaching the late stages of their career would be winding down or doing less. Maybe you think they might be prone to loafing a bit with one eye on the calendar toward retirement.
But this vision simply isn’t true for motivated and energetic managers. Late-career managers should have a full plate of activities that benefit both themselves and the organization. Please note: the key phrase is "benefit both themselves and the organization." So the question becomes, “What are those activities?”
In the first part of this series, we discussed how managers in the early stages of their career are focused on performance. Part of that performance is their own. It makes sense, right? They want to grow their careers and advance with the organization. This aligns with the three-ingredient human resources strategy of performance, engagement and learning and development. During the late stages of a manager’s career, the focus should shift to learning and development.
Learning and development for managers: focus on these five skills
When it comes to learning and development in the late stages of a manager’s career, it’s not just about the manager teaching others. Here are five skills managers should develop that would not only benefit the company but also themselves:
1. Knowledge management
Organizations entrust a lot of history, anecdotes, unwritten policies and stories to their employees. When employees leave their roles, whether it’s by department transfer, resignation or retirement, organizations must find ways to preserve that information. Knowledge management practices allow organizations to formally retain data and information. Employees who participate in knowledge management activities have the ability to share their expertise. It can be a win for everyone.
Another helpful opportunity for managers to share expertise in their late-career stage is through training programs. Managers can facilitate programs on their own or be a part of a team-teaching partnership with colleagues from the learning and development department. This allows managers to continue to learn, while at the same time, share their knowledge with other employees. The key to success is giving managers proper presentation and training skills through a structured train-the-trainer program.
We mentioned in the second part of this series that managers during the mid-career phase should focus on performance—specifically their coaching skills. Mentoring is a bit different. Where the focus of coaching is on helping employees reach their own answers and solutions, mentoring involves a greater level of teaching and knowledge sharing. Managers who want to mentor should be provided with training, so they have a proven model for passing along information to mentees.
The first three skills we’ve discussed have been about the manager sharing their knowledge, skills and abilities with the rest of the organization. Here’s a way to help the manager on a personal level: Organizations could offer late-stage career managers development in the area of self-management. These skills focus on topics such as problem-solving, conflict resolution and change management. Not only would these skills be valuable in mentoring and training employees, but they would be helpful to a manager’s retirement strategy.
5. Second act (or encore career)
Studies show that many managers (and employees) in the late stages of their career are considering a work life in retirement. Sports professionals call it “unretirement.” Organizations have the ability to help managers gain skills and knowledge that they would use during their unretirement. With the challenges in recruiting talent, this could be a benefit to organizations. Managers can be trained for future opportunities to be a part-timer, freelancer or contractor for the organization as part of their transition to retirement.
Late career strategies include lifelong learning
As managers approach the later stages of their career, it’s important for organizations to start having conversations about what that looks like. An open, honest dialogue can make the employee feel they’re not being pushed out. In fact, this is an opportunity to celebrate the manager’s accomplishments within the organization.
The result? The organization shares proven strategies for success with managers at every stage of their careers.