Managing Short-timers

MT Members,

I am looking for help in motivating people at the end of their career.  I expect others have supervised people who are near retirement but for a variety of reasons must continue to work. 

The incentives of promotion and growth that are effective for people earlier in their career have less appeal to this group.  In my case, the coaching challenge is motivation of a person with a great deal of historical and institutional knowledge.  The knowledge base though is receding in its relevance almost before our eyes as our project changes. 

How best to coach a staff person for productivity and growth who does not necessarily see themselves in a growth part of their career?

Edward Souza


Build on O3s

If you are doing O3s you should have some insight into what they want to do with their career, however little time is left in it.  Rather than look for a carrot to dangle, understand what they really want to do and help them get there.  It is unlikely they will want to go in a direction contrary to what you want.  Unless they are just looking to hang on and collect a paycheck, they will be a willing participant in being creative on how to help the team move forward. 

Do not try to force them down a path, just work with them.

Sorry if this is to simplistic, but I think each person is different in what drives them.  However, I think most everyone wants to feel like what they do matters.  Emphasize this perspective.

Hope this helps,



Yes, O3s

I guess I have the same comment that I had here: -- what behaviors do you want to see?  

Then, as Mike suggests above, build the relationship so you understand what motivates them.

I had very frank conversations with one of my guys, who is very close to retirement, last fall.  Had the stock market been closer to 11K than 7K, I think he would have left when he finished up his current project.  He can't be promoted (he's at the top of his track, and has no interest switching tracks) but he still has some very good ideas about process improvement, and is interested in putting them into practice.  I don't assume he's just marking time, and we both have the expectation that he'll make the kind of significant contributions that justify his rather substantial salary. 

On the other hand, I'm sure he'll tell me in an O3 one of these days that he's done:  He'll wrap up his current tasks, but in a couple months he's moving back to the wine country where he grew up.

I remember reading a little while ago (and I'm sorry, I can't recall where, may have been Paul Krugman's blog) that productivity declines in older workers, but the "seniority effect" keeps their earning high.  I suspect that understanding individual motivation would go a long way toward mitigating that effect.  Asking would probably go a long way toward understanding individual motivation.