Escaping the prison of achievement - Learning how to reinvent yourself to become a successful "ex-partner"
Monday 26th October 2020
For people at the top of their game in professional services firms the road to retirement can be a profoundly unsettling one. The frightening void that replaces the structured, stimulating days of client delivery can lead to confusion, frustration and plunging self - esteem. Followed by a challenging journey of self- reinvention, and ultimately renewed purpose and identity.
Professional services firms necessarily attract lawyers, accountants, management consultants and engineers that are highly intelligent but also slightly insecure, over-achievers. This need to achieve can see them prioritise the immediate demands of clients and the firm at the expense of their own well-being. Spending time reflecting on deeper questions about their own identity, purpose, fulfilment and life beyond partnership can often be neglected. They can become prisoners of their need to achieve.
When the inevitable moment of having to retire comes many partners find themselves failing to address the challenge of personal reinvention out of fear, of loss of mental stimulation, of fulfilment, of community, of status, as well as an uncertainty about what next. There is also the added anxiety that if they don't retire they will be undone by performance and managed out.
A stigma can be attached to retirement that means that partners avoid having early conversations about it, out of fear of being seen as weak and losing personal control.
Some firms offer support in the form of coaching and financial planning advice but this is often ad hoc and in response to individual requests rather than being a proactive and holistic approach to preparing partners for retirement. A study conducted in 2015 of twenty eight UK law firms suggested only three had formal internal programmes to help senior partners retire well.*
Poorly planned partner retirement can have a very negative effect on a firm's client relationships, and internal succession, may undermine the business development benefits of a well-managed alumni network, as well as leaving ex-partners feeling demoralized and lost.
So how can professional services firms overcome the inherent obstacles to preparing partners for the challenge of retirement and personal reinvention so that the benefits for clients, firm and retiring partners can be realised ?
The key is to give partners approaching retirement early support and challenge to develop the mindset, skillset and network to effectively manage the psychological transition, reinvent themselves, leave well and become a loyal, productive alumni.
Would your firm like to find out what it can do differently to improve partner retirement?
Mike Mullins Consulting Ltd in collaboration with Evolve Consulting Ltd enable professional services firms prepare their senior partners for the challenge of retirement and personal reinvention so that the benefits for clients, firm and retiring partners can be realised. They offer a gratis diagnostic interview process for firms with a representative sample of partners about to retire together with some that have just retired. A tailored report sets out the key helps and hinders as well as recommended actions to develop an effective retirement process for the firm, clients and of course, retiring partners.
Contact Mike Mullins on 07973 642 875 for a discussion about how we can help.