Who motivates the motivators?

This is a true story

Remco Monfils 2018.jpg

Once, a senior Manager with many years’ experience and only a few years before retirement wrote a note to his CEO asking him whether he had any ideas on how to keep himself motivated. The senior Manager had always been the motivator and now, only years away from retirement needed some motivation for himself. The CEO was not prepared to answer the question and could not give a satisfactory response.

This is a common challenge happening in many government and private organisations where experience, corporate knowledge and good will is eventually lost when people move into retirement and taken with them vast amounts of know-how and corporate knowledge. Also, is the case, that the senior managers spend the last year or so treading water in their jobs without really achieving anything substantial. This is disappointing both for the employee and the employer.

The solution could be simple. Some older managerial staff close to retirement hold vast amounts of precious working and human knowledge experience. These people should be involved in guiding and mentoring the younger talented up and coming employee’s to higher positions within the organisation. Being a mentor for others with real potential provides a higher sense of purpose and provides the motivation to keep going.

It is true, that ‘money talks’ but in many cases for the senior class of managers, who have reached the possible top of their monetary income, there is nothing more to achieve unless, of course, they are given a purpose that gives the pride of knowing that they are steering and coaching the younger generation to higher positions for the total benefit of the organisation. Instead of feeling frustrated that younger and in many cases, less experienced up-coming managers are gradually taking over their positions, they are made to feel proud of the achievements obtained by their ‘pupils’ and treat it is a personal success when their student surpasses the ‘masters’ skills.

What kind of pre-retirement Manager could fill this role?

Those who do, have to be completely open to accept new developments and modern entrepreneurial standards. Admittedly, it will always be difficult for them to accept that the world is so much different from those times when they themselves were the ‘shining stars’ of the organisation. If they are only admiring those candidates who are thinking along the same lines as they always did in the past then they would definitely not be a suitable “coach” for the new generation.

So how do we identify the ideal candidate?

1.     Look at the performance reviews conducted by the senior manager of their direct reports over the years.

a.     Was the performance review conducted with care and “quality time” and consideration instead of just following a checklist?

b.     Has the performance review indicated areas that the direct report could improve and how?

c.     Was the performance review discussed with the direct report in a positive way, keeping in mind that a negative evaluation can leave scars that are difficult to remediate and at times can destroy motivation.

d.     Was the performance review open minded accepting that the direct report may not necessarily have the same ideas as the senior manager. Were the new ideas and ways of performing taken into account by the senior manager?

2.     Has the senior manager led and/or encouraged any innovation working groups or have they surrounded themselves with people with similar, like-minded ideas?

3.     How was the continuity in the section under this Manager’s leadership? Were there any resignations or staff movements that the senior manager may have been responsible for and what were the circumstances surrounding these staff movements.

4.     How much ownership and accountability has the senior manager taken with difficult situations with staff. Or has the senior manager simply left these tasks to the Human Resources section?

5.     Has the senior manager been able to handle different ideas opposing their own with composure or are they resistant to change constantly defending their views and opinions. Did they remain calm when challenges developed?

The eventual ideal senior manager for this important mentoring role will not necessarily be the one who was the most dynamic during their career. What is needed here is a balanced person who understands their job and how to bring out the best in their team to get the job done.

There are many ways (besides their normal responsibilities) to keep the senior manager motivated. For instance, make them part of a working group, reporting directly to the CEO. Use the skills of the senior manager to evaluate situations and come up with recommendations and new ideas for important matters including training, corporate image, union matters, launch of new projects, staff morale. The importance that such a responsibility places on the senior manager is enough at times to keep them motivated during their final years at work.

Remco Monfils was a retired CEO of a multi-national company, giving guest lectures in simple and understandable business ways to interested universities, business schools and commercial organisations about his experience mainly involving human beings in business. Please see ‘A Talk on Leadership in Business’ by Mr Remco Monfils at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sQzjmrwOYqQ

Remco was the managing director of Monfils Pictures and executive producer of the award winning documentary ‘A Good Day to Die- Hoka Hey’ https://www.monfilspictures.com/agdtd

Unfortunately, Remco passed away in September 2018 before being able to publish this article. Rean and family has published it here and we hope you enjoy it.

Rean Gilbert is Remco Monfils’ daughter and works at an Australian government department. She believes in positive leadership styles that bring out the best in people and providing mentorship and modelling positive leadership. Rean’s contribution to this article was mainly as editing as her father’s English required some fine tuning. The story is Remco’s. You can find Rean on Linked In https://www.linkedin.com/in/rean-gilbert-88a351a/

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