Do you work at a place with a wave of people retiring? Younger demographic tech companies aside, many employers are in the middle of the baby boomer exodus. We've heard about it for years… opportunities will open up for the mid-level and younger set, things will fall apart… then the boomers stuck around for more years to make more money for retirement.
I've said goodbye to several close colleagues retiring so far this year. I was able to take a few of them to lunch a few days before they left. What a great experience. I enjoyed telling them how much I liked working together and appreciated them. I asked each for guidance or wisdom- what they think now at the end of the career arc. General work and life perspective, not issue or current team specific.
One executive said: know yourself. If the others want you to conform to behavior you know is nonsense, move on. He said not to be afraid of finding happiness, not to settle or wear misery like a badge of honor. Another said speak your mind. This was interesting to me. Their top-of-mind takeaways were to be more individual, less of a foot soldier. Yet, not conforming and speaking up often backfires at the lower and mid levels in big organizations. Did they regret playing along? Did they see more room for challenging the status quo as they moved up?
A third said to forgive everyone along the way and make peace with your path. He was not retiring by choice, but a result of a reorganization. Each conversation was fun, insightful and touching. Each person opened up in ways they had not before. Take a retiree to lunch- a great chance to absorb some rare open feedback and express gratitude! Plus it's summer (at least in northern hemisphere)- outdoor cafe season! Picture is of a pleasant one I happened upon in Dubai on a business trip.