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Sandeep - Article

Sandeep - Article

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Published by sandeep k krishnan
Article in human resource management, talent management, post retirement options.
Article in human resource management, talent management, post retirement options.

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Published by: sandeep k krishnan on May 08, 2009
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hr issues

What are the challenges and opportunities for organizations to have productive associations with retiring professionals, what are the possible options for retiring professionals, and what does the future hold?
of 60 would have joined the work force during the early 70s. We set policies of employment based on considerations of creating jobs, job security, and opportunities for young people. Also imagine the management scenario. People just got promoted by years of service. No words like succession planning and career management had many takers or need. Public sector dominated the scene as well. However, as a whole it created a great set of people who were ready to expand the horizon with the opening up of the economy, information revolution, and increased need of professionals. Many of them rechristened quickly to the new roles. A new challenge arises as these professionals reach the retirement age. Early management professionals, seasoned leaders, academicians, and many more professional experts who have seen the times of the License Raj, as well as new age industries are suddenly facing the challenge of finding avenues for channelizing their talent to productive purposes.

Managing the transition
A retirement has many more dimensions rather just cessation of a regular job. Quite clearly, for an individual this is the time of quick change, especially for those who are at the peak of their careers and power status. It is a time of confusion, uncertainty, and definitely planning. One of the choices is to pursue purely liferelated aspects and have an understanding of moving away from the professional realm. This entails time for

second innings
By Prof K Kunhikrishnan & Dr. Sandeep K. Krishnan
hat would a Sachin Tendulkar or a David Beckham do after retiring from a sports career? Options are many. They will be a coach, a selector, do commentary, start their own business or involve fulltime in an already existing one, venture into the entertainment world. While retirement of a sports person is driven by factors like age, inability to take stress of sports after an age, and is purely driven by inability to consistently show form in playing, the phasing out of a professional is quick and abrupt driven by the age factor of retirement. The growth of knowledge professionals has created a different perspective to this outlook. Is a healthy professor (may be one of the best) not suitable to teach just as he reaches the age of 60? Is a great scientist no longer able to contribute to an institution or nation after the age of 65? Or simply put, is a competent HR professional no longer required in his profession?


Exploring the scenario
The current generation that is going to retire at the age

oneself, one's family and social activities. Many choose to do this and look forward to the same, while sacrificing professional competence. On the other hand, studies in the west show that as many as 70% people would like to continue in some profession or another to keep them busy. Many even wish that their regular job continues. In an Indian urban context, this can also be a bigger challenge with the nuclear families setting in and difficulty to connect regularly with near and dear ones. The opportunity and challenge here is the scope of re-engaging in any form of professional engagement. Many options exist for a professional after retirement. However, a lot depends on the preparations that enable the transition and life attitude and perceptions. Psychologically, retirement is one phase in the occupation, which would lead either to personal satisfaction and self fulfillment with contribution to organization, society, family and self or job discontentment, sense of low self worth, and negative outlook to organization and society. This ultimately leads to positive or negative orientation to life. Either way it


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More time for oneself and with the family Plans for exploring various hobbies Engaging in more social roles Rest and relaxation Spiritual pursuits Developing social networks Catching up with friends, and relatives Health management balance that he has in personal and professional life. Retired close to 8 years back, the transition was not so tough for Devanathan. A mechanical engineer by profession, Devanathan had worked in various capacities with Tata Steel. While he was heading maintenance for Tata Steel, one of the vendors of Tata Steel, GE, was interested in getting help from Devanathan in understanding their client needs and better. While with GE, he was complimenting the chemical engineers to have a better understanding of Tata Steel's operations. Soon Devanathan was contacting many other clients of GE in specific areas of mechanical engineering operations. This also got him in touch with JSW steel where they wanted him to be a consultant on a more continuous basis. That made it easier for Devanathan move to JSW steel as an advisor. As he himself puts it, "These assignments made me a pure professional. I could voice the opinion to the best of my knowledge. Also my suggestions getting accepted and not accepted are also learning. I no longer have any worries regarding formal designations or higher compensation." The next move was much more interesting for him. He took up a role with a small company which was planning to set up a plant as a joint venture with a German steel plant equipment supplier. This called for a more focused approach from his side and he agreed to work for them, mostly from home. He set up his own office at home and conducted a series of planned meetings with the clients. Some of the key challenges that Devanathan had to face in his second career were

Moving out of operational roles Regular salary income might cease Power status with designation and roles might cease Feeling of frustration of lack of channels to express one's talent and knowledge or freedom from job demands Moving out of regular professional networks Continuing professional credibility Developing different equations with the professional networks Sudden feeling of more time and less productivity reflects the life cycle and the options possible for postretirement life. The happiness one feels or the attitude towards others would largely depend on the outcome when one retires from the career. The positively oriented may go for better options whereas the frustrated and negatively oriented would opt out and insulate. Devanathan, 68 years old now, is excited about the

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hr issues

A highly regarded professional is much in demand in academia. This is true especially in fields like management and science. While guest lectures are routine that a professional might have engaged in regular life itself. Here they can engage as a permanent/adjunct faculty.

It would be important to have the habit of preparing/delivering sessions. Another important part is to keep in touch with the academic world and their needs. Many institutions also invite senior professionals to be part of their subject boards. Finishing a PhD might add a lot of value.


Being an independent consultant to organizations Create a sense of depth in one of the areas where bringing in thought leadership and assisting in the past experience and knowledge can be utilized. transformational projects. An example would be a senior professional becoming a recruitment consultant. In this the association with the organization is Contacts and strong lineage of contributing to more independent and beyond consulting involved corporate governance. CXO level interactions in strategic thoughts with more responsibilities. Working with NGOs in an advisory role. Volunteer Contact with NGO activities. Requirements of NGOs. for government programmes. Volunteering spirit.

Advisors/ Board members Non profit

Part time assignment Having a part time job. This might be a flexi option Specific skills sets / relationship with the in the current job during transition. management. Entrepreneurial Ventures Setting up own ventures. Setting up a team, networking, funding, business plan development. As a state President of Govt College Teachers' Organization, President of Gazetted Officers Union, Chairman of Commerce Education Promotion Council, Member of the Syndicate and Senate of the University of Calicut, he is widely known in varied circles. Dr. Manoharan believes that networking definitely helps in post retirement plans and the key is to select assignments that give professional satisfaction. His advice: Stay away from any commitments that might be ethically challenging. As his passion for building and developing management institutes is still profoundly burning in him, he has become a much sought-after person by the promoters of b-schools. According to V P Nandakumar, a veteran in the field of NBFC and Chairman of Manappuram Group of companies, senior retired professionals like Dr. Manoharan provide two distinct advantages. They have deep knowledge in areas where there are lack of experienced professionals in the market and also proven track record of integrity that helps him make them a sounding board for critical decisions. The transition may also call for a lot of adjustment and change. A simple example is the availability of support mechanisms. A senior professional in a regular job might have assistants, secretarial staff, and access to plethora of other support mechanisms. Another aspect of a regular job is that expectations are clear and set in terms of goals. Many things are also expected to fall into place because of the power structure. The arrangements post-retirement might have fundamentally different orientation. Support mechanisms need to be created on need basis, power comes from influence and knowledge support, time and results commitments become more adhoc, and contracts are aligned more with the outcomes.

to balance the work life demands, move into a purely advisory role, set expectations of an advisory role, and manage networks. The key was to not disturb the balance that he wanted from the second career and fun from life. Another example is of Professor Dr. Manoharan, who retired as deputy director of collegiate education having jurisdiction over 25 colleges of Thrissur and Palakkad districts of Kerala state. He was the Principal of 5 Government colleges before that. He retired 6 years back having been intensely involved in both academic and administrative functions. Dr.Manoharan had a background of commerce having further focused on management studies. Immediately after retirement, he was contacted to nurture a new institute in management by a veteran management Guru in Kerala. Although it was considered to be a post retirement opportunity, this was equally or more challenging for him. As an associate dean of the institute, he was responsible for the academic, administration and teaching activities. As he puts it, "I have never worked so hard in my entire career". The efforts at the institute did pay off and he had multiple offers coming from across the state to help them set up and be a lead professor in his subjects and personal development programs. Dr. Manoharan also got involved as an invited board member with Manappurum General Finance and Leasing Ltd, a NBFC from Kerala, putting his efforts in professionalizing of management and training. As an independent director, he is now helping in corporate governance and setting standards for human resource management. He continues to get involved in many professional activities like development of regional management associations, social activities like public library and lectures in various management institutes.


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Prof Indira Parikh, ex-Dean IIM Ahmedabad and President of Foundation for Liberal and Management Education (FLAME) has unique experiences to share on how organizations can facilitate career transition or prepare senior professionals for retirement from both conceptual and experiential level. In her consulting experiences with ITC and IOC, she facilitated workshops for a group of general managers and above on preparing for this transition. This involved explorations on the future social life, family life, health management, financial management, and second alternative careers. The workshops were about re-relating with these multiple aspects. Some of the transition challenges are given below based on Prof Parikh's design. Interestingly, spouses were part of the exercise. They voiced concerns of changing relationships between spouses where they share the home space for longer hours after retirement. While many said they were looking forward to it, there were concerns like how the husband would manage if the wife was still working. These workshops are interesting efforts to manage life after retirement. There are also examples of organizations, setting up their own leadership development efforts for senior professionals. The focus is on selecting key senior people for the program, providing options, preparing senior professionals for the select roles, and finally placement after retirement. As for Prof Parikh, her own transition from IIM A to FLAME after retirement was also a period of preparation and change. The tremendous responsibility of setting up the new institution was a challenge for her in terms of designing the institute's academic model, culture building, and aligning efforts of the whole team to make it successful.

Organizational perspective
While many organizational heads and HR professionals agree to the fact that retiring professionals are a great resource pool, very few have established systems to manage the process. At best, organizations have adhoc procedures to manage retired professionals. However, change is setting in and is happening in both the academic world and industry. For example, the University Grants Commission has a system to make use of the senior professors who retire from the service. IIM Ahmedabad has changed a policy where retiring professors have an option of continuing till 65 years as an adjunct faculty if they wish to do so. "At IIM Kozhikode, we have a very eminent emeritus professor serving as a Distinguished Fellow. He takes select lectures, teaches doctoral students, and also mentors junior faculty members. It is a great step for institution building. The key is in having flexibility around such arrangements where there is a mutually rewarding experience" says Prof T N Krishnan, Faculty, IIM Kozhikode who has done extensive research in career management. With knowledge professionals the key is that they are not bogged down by routine issues that take away charm of a post retirement engagement. Industry also has many models of making use

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retiring professionals and the trend is setting in. "We have recommended our key clients to use retiring professionals with specific skill sets to be retained as advisors for key projects through contractual agreements. Many professionals use their extensive business knowledge and experience to coach CXOs. We also have seen retired professionals from public sector occupying key positions in private sector. They certainly bring in a lot of experience and at an affordable cost" comments Indira Bhardwaj, Executive Director, Business Advisory Services, Ernst and Young Pvt Ltd. However, it is also not that all professionals can take up these opportunities. The key aspect that many organizations are looking at is of retiring professionals who can take a role of a consultant/advisor and move from the traditional power associated with designations. "They should have the maturity of moving from the traditional power structure and act as respectable advisors and consultants. They should be seen as a helping hand rather than a threat to the employees in the organizations" says Ratish Jha, Head of HR, RPG Cables. It is also important that organizations create an atmosphere that respects the need for which the senior professionals are retained. Their special demands like flexi time, less travel, careful planning of meetings, clearly defined scope of engagement, and extended office at home may be thought of. A reworking of compensation and benefits also is critical. "As senior professionals move into retirement, they can be identified to play senior advisory roles either within the same organization or as expert freelancers for various organizations and businesses. The plan should be treat them as a separate talent pool. The shift in engagement terms would move away from administrative to planning, strategizing and advising on key issues. By playing an expert or advisor, it is important that they recognize that this role they play would directly impact employees and businesses. The key is to have a right mix of 25:75 value, 25% having a direct impact while the rest being transformational" comments Joseph Gonsalo, HR Manager with a major IT organization. However, many also choose to chart out their own options. An interesting example would be Jagdish Khattar, exchairman of Maruti Udyog. After retirement his passion for the auto industry landed up as an entrepreneurial venture that is an all India, multi brand sales and servicing company. Arvind Agrawal, President HR, RPG Group, has come across very interesting examples of how organizations have employed retired professionals. A renowned multinational organization, for example, had an extensive pool of ex-employees who were used as trainers. "Every organization has a great need for trainers who have skills and can understand the organizational context. Retired employees are the best pool to be trainers and mentors". Similarly, at Xerox he found a network of retired employees used for both regular and advisory jobs. For example, a retired senior professional may be called to do an induction for an important visitor. This might really help the regular employees not to get stuck with visitors or new employee familiarization. It is a win-win for the organization, senior professionals, and also the visitors/ inductees. Also from an HR context, retired professionals can be used as effective interviewers for the organization. For example ex-CEOs and functional heads can provide excellent first-round interview inputs for a senior level recruitment. This helps in freeing up senior management time as well. Also, special projects like setting up a plant in a foreign location, a post-merger integration, etc are excellent examples where professionals can engage in highly rewarding, yet timebound assignments. The models may wary but the key, as per Agrawal, is to have that balance of knowledge utilization and retired professional's flexibility needs. Another aspect would be how the professionals are compensated. The most popular model is of retainership, where they are paid on a monthly on the basis of what is negotiated in a contract. The other models are pay as per project outcomes, hourly payments (coaching), sitting fees (board membership), stock options etc. The challenge for the organization is also to identify the senior professionals who are available post-retirement. Having a strong alumni network of established organizations is a route. Also headhunters can focus on senior folks once they have a mandate. According to Dr. PVR Murthy, a veteran in the field of HR, associated with number of organizations and NHRD, who manages a firm called Exclusive Search Recruitment Consultants, there will be specialist recruitment consultants who will coach senior professionals for second careers and focus on their placements. He is the opinion that while it has become a well established focus in areas like of ex-service men, this is a trend that going to spread in other areas. Extension of retirement age will be a trend that is going to pick up in many of the organizations. Post retirement transition is the time for professionals to take choices in their lives. While the transition is fast, it is important to plan and take up choices that can balance interests and life aspects. The concept of second career and transition for an individual is a process of change both at psychological and social level. Multitude of options exists for a respectable professional post retirement and it is important to prepare oneself both in terms of expectations of outcomes and attitude required. Organizations can benefit a lot from the experience, and skills at a reasonable cost. Organizations need take a more mature and strategic outlook by creating processes both for identifying engagements where senior professionals can be engaged, training senior professionals, creating engagement models, and measuring performance of such engagements. HC

Prof K Kunhikrishnan is currently the Pro Vice Chancellor of Kannur University, Kerala. He may be contacted at k.kallidil@gmail.com. Dr. Sandeep K. Krishnan, an HR professional is currently working in the area of talent management and leadership development with a MNC IT organization. He may be contacted at sandeephrm@gmail.com


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