Case Studies

Case Study #1

Problem:  A $16 million dollar retail company was having great success and watching profits rise for the last 4 years.  This success was in jeopardy when, unexpectedly, two senior employees gave notice – they were ready to retire.  Their notice started a surprising domino effect when management realized their other Baby Boomer staff members would do the same and people might begin to leave in droves.  Since Baby Boomers made up 32% of the company, they panicked because they had no succession plan.

Solution:  We conducted a needs analysis with the company and their senior employees.  We created an accurate timeline for exits and implemented a transitional plan for management so the next 3 years would not be a problem. A handful of Baby Boomers expressed an interest in exiting but could not (or would not) give definite dates because they had not personally prepared for this transition.  We continued to coach these individuals to help them create an individual exit plan for each of them while minimizing the impact their leaving would have on the company.

Outcomes: 

  • A comprehensive exit strategy plan for the retailer that emphasized communication and eliminated surprises. 
  • Staff felt valued because the company provided reassurance and training. 
  • The company was kept apprised of their employees’ plans for the future so they worried less and had an accurate succession plan.
  • The company and staff collaborated to create a plan for reducing hours nearer to retirement, job sharing for interested employees and a mentoring program to ensure knowledge transfer and seamless transitions.

 

Case Study #2

Problem:  An architectural firm owned by 4 principals and making $25 million dollars annually was on the verge of an internal war.  One of the principals, Stanley, was older than the rest and had promised to retire 4 years ago.  He never left and showed no signs of packing his desk up anytime soon.  Two of the other principals were so frustrated by his empty promises and old fashioned ways they were ready to leave.  They felt he was holding back progress and innovation, causing the firm to lose contracts and creating an atmosphere of tension and resentment.  Although the older principal was wise and key to starting the firm, his old ways, philosophies and ingrained habits were more of a problem than a strength.

Solution: In individual interviews, the principals shared their perspectives on the company’s current strengths and challenges and articulated their plans for succession.  Stanley shared, in confidence, his reasons for having such difficulty leaving – he did not know what he would do with himself or what his new identity would be as he had been an architect for over 42 years.  He was also scared of boredom because he was unsure what he would do to occupy his time to fill more than 50 hours a week.

I worked one-on-one with Stanley to create his exit strategy plan and with the rest of the management team to define the transition and timeline.  After 4 days of onsite meetings and 2 months of coaching, the firm implemented the change strategies, revised the job description and searched for a new principal.  Stanley worked on his own personal plan, helped to find his replacement and was eager to share his valuable knowledge with others.  Everyone, including Stanley, is happy, excited about the transition.

Outcomes:

  • The exit and transition plans were clearly defined and seamlessly implemented in 3 phases over 7 months
  • Stanley felt supported and followed through with a timely and phased departure
  • All of the principals came together as a team to identify the needs of the company to stay competitive and find a new, innovative principal

 

Case Study #3

Problem:  Ed started and built a successful manufacturing company that was in its 28th year.  His three kids (2 sons and 1 daughter) worked in the business and his plan was to sell the company to his kids and start his retirement.  The plans were in place, the financials were good and the legal requirements and documents ready for signing.  But then, . . . Ed would not reply to emails, he would always reschedule meetings and he would not participate in crucial sale conversations. Unfortunately, momentum got lost.  Nothing was happening because of 2 ½ months of silence and inactivity.

Solution: Ed’s business team of lawyers, accountants and M & A experts invited me to help create an individual exit plan and knowledge transfer plan for the business. Everyone was baffled and did not have a clue what happened.  The sale and transfer were straightforward and not complicated.  I worked with Ed, his family and the management team to get things moving again to complete the sale.  I started with a needs analysis and discovered that Ed was a micro-manager.  He did not believe his kids would get along without him and thought their knowledge was not as strong as his own was in order to be successful in the day-to-day business.  His kids and the management team were more than ready for Ed to retire – it was frustrating to be held back and overly managed.  Together, we were able to create both an exit plan for Ed as well as educational training situations to increase the kids’ skills, knowledge and abilities, not to mention Ed’s confidence in them.  We held meetings where scenarios, communication and mentoring were key.  After 11 months, Ed retired. He comes in when they need his help and they invite him in.  The business is successful, the family is working well together and Ed is enjoying his new life of volunteering and senior sports.

Outcomes:

  • Productivity was maintained during the transition and increased after Ed exited the company
  • Consistent learning and skill building minimized gaps and knowledge loss
  • Knowledge and skills were passed on to facilitate a seamless transition from old management to new management
  • Human resource measures have improved so there are fewer sick days, less turnover and higher employee engagement

 

Case Study #4:

Problem:  Irene celebrated her 60th birthday and the accounting firm gave her a great party hoping that she’d retire… as she had been talking about for 5 years.  She had worked there for over 31 years. Although a great worker, she is admittedly completely resistant to change and technology.  Every time there was a new initiative, project or program she got angry, was negative and critical of everyone. She poisoned the work environment for weeks whenever change was implemented.  Her supervisor was frustrated and didn’t know what else to do with her. The team she works with walked on eggshells because they never knew when she would “blow”. And her HR manager had his hands tied because nothing she did rose to disciple or demotion.

Solution:  The HR manager asked me to work with Irene and presented my engagement as a “perk” to support her in her last years with the company.  I worked with Irene and learned she was more than ready to retire but not until she had some grand babies.  It was her dream to leave her work place and shift to babysitting on a full time basis.  Her kids were having health and pregnancy troubles and Irene was in the lurch – not willing to leave work and no baby-sitting opportunities available yet.  We were able to create an individual exit strategy plan that focused on Irene’s personality and interests rather than “the new job” she was anxiously awaiting.  Irene discovered that she had many interests and passions and that work was getting in the way of fulfilling them.  She was as frustrated as her co-workers were because she had not gotten on with her dreams and plans.  She was excited about her new exit strategy plan. She agreed to exit within 6 months whether there were grandkids or not.  This renewed realization and vision was invigorating and energizing for Irene.  She knew her replacement would be fine.  Her HR manager, supervisor and team were excited for Irene. They all loved seeing her new optimism and that she could leave in good spirits and on her own terms.

Outcomes:

  • Irene had someone on her side to understand her story, dilemma and frustrations (which helped her employer better understand her reactions at work)
  • Increased comfort and confidence that an exit strategy plan could be created and implemented within the promised timelines and deadlines
  • Relief for HR, supervisors and teams when positive change and new ideas were more easily implemented
  • Consistent and seamless flow of work and business contact information