Preparing yourself for retirement

By Barbara Spector
Preparing yourself for retirement

Here are some tips to help family business leaders let go of key roles and identify new ones in preparation for their life after retirement:

1.  Recognize that it’s wise and healthy to step down from leadership well before you’re on your deathbed. If you’re not convinced of this, seek out stories of succession crises by networking with other businesses, attending conferences and programs or reading the family business literature.

2. Be serious about preparing for life after retirement. Start early; don’t relegate your life plan to the bottom of the succession planning priority list.

3. Assess your interests and tap your network to find meaningful projects that are a good fit with your passions and your talents. Don’t jump at the first opportunity; take time to think about the most rewarding ways to invest your energy, and how much time those projects will require.

4. Be transparent with stakeholders about your plans and your timeline. Ask your board to hold you accountable for meeting that timeline and alert you to red flags. Allot at least five years for the transition process.

5. Discuss with your spouse or partner how you plan to spend your time. What will you each do separately? What will you do together? Will your spouse join you when you travel for board meetings, speaking engagements or consulting assignments? Is there a major project you might tackle as a couple?

6. Consider peripheral roles you could play in the business or the family. Discuss these with your successor to ensure you won’t be stepping on his or her toes.

7. As your retirement date approaches, begin taking longer vacations or working fewer days per week. Don’t call in or check email on your days off. Allow the future leadership team to function without your interference.

8. Don’t meddle; allow your successors to make mistakes. They will learn from them. If you have an effective board, the directors will steer your successors away from grievous errors.

9. After you leave, don’t offer an opinion unless you’re asked.

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