How do you deal with a senior who clings to his job?

Sixty-nine-yr-old Project Leader Fred Folsom, who qualified as a member of management, had been talking for years about retirement. The company had no compulsory retirement policy for managers and professionals.


Sixty-nine-yr-old Project Leader Fred Folsom, who qualified as a member of management, had been talking for years about retirement. The company had no compulsory retirement policy for managers and professionals. Still, experienced and talented as Folsom was, Chief Engineer Art Rheingold wished Fred would "put his money where his mouth was." He took too much time off, lacked his former drive and enthusiasm, and spent too much time on the telephone.

"I really want to pack it in once and for all," Folsom confided, "if I could only find a good replacement."

No one was better qualified than Folsom to select his successor, and Personnel had sent several engineers to be interviewed. But Folsom found something wrong with every one of them. One lacked experience, another had a personality problem, another would have trouble handling the staff.

When an applicant Rheingold felt ideal for the job was rejected, Rheingold began to suspect Folsom's motivation. Did this guy really want to retire?

Question: In Rheingold's place, how would you deal with the problem?

Benson's strategy: The Chief discussed the problem with Plant Engineer Floyd Benson, who had a mixed reaction about Folsom's motivation.

"My guess is that on the one hand he wants to retire, but on the other he's afraid to let go. Stepping down from a key job is one of life's toughest changes. Fred's a healthy and active man; I don't blame him for being afraid."

"Then how -- ?"

"That's the key question, isn't it? I'd prefer not to force him out if we can help it. One idea might be to work out a plan to retire him gradually. Another might be to use his vast experience in a training or consulting capacity, which could be helpful during the transition period. Why not feel him out on these suggestions and see how he reacts?"

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