Thinking about the next chapter – all win retirement planning ??

 

Retirement can be both an exciting opportunity and challenging concept for any NC State Faculty member and perhaps for any and everyone!  The twofold opportunity / challenge dichotomy rang loud and clear in an Office of Faculty Development (OFD) program where several recently retired faculty shared their experiences. My purpose in attending and interest in learning about retiring from a university is based on several faculty ombuds office visits where I heard from some faculty members who had concerns about the retirement process.  The question on my mind was, and still is, how to create an “all win” situation where a faculty member can phase out of a successful academic career while also meeting the needs of a department – this would be the all win!

At the OFD program, one faculty member explained that they spoke with their department head about a year out and came up with a plan that worked for all involved. This was indeed an all win! On the other hand, I’ve heard from faculty that did not feel comfortable saying anything about retiring for fear of being isolated from their department, or for “losing” control of ongoing work and plans for finishing up items, or from feeling that nothing was owed due to current treatment. They gave their department a minimum period of notice and, while they put as much in place as possible, they also left it to the department to figure out the “what next” in many areas.

Additionally, for faculty members, their professional and personal life is often so tied together that the idea of leaving the university is fraught with fear of the unknown.  Thus, there is a range of support for faculty and staff who are thinking about retirement including a great Ready to Retire program here at NC State that goes over the nuts and bolts of retirement.  And, while the logistics matter, I’m still more interested in the the planning and really the potential for “joint” planning that could go on between a faculty member and their department head. And, while there can and are “legal” issues that could arise around a retirement discussion, it also does not need to be that type of conversation. Instead, could a department set up a joint retirement planning process that would seek to meet the needs and interests of a faculty member along with the department?  Can there be a way to normalize conversation about retirement so that it works for all concerned?

So, I’ve posed the question and I believe the answer is in the experiences of faculty that have or are in the process of retiring. What is your story? How did it go? I’d like to collect retirement (and leaving the university) stories to find out what folks believe are the best practices so that these can be shared with a broader audience.

Give me a call and share your story!

Weeks – Eight Essential Steps to Conflict Resolution

 

In a previous post, I referenced Step 5 “look to the future, then learn from the past” from Dudley Weeks, Ph.D., “Eight Essential Steps to Conflict Resolution.” With a new semester just underway, Weeks helps us think about resolving conflict as a partnership.  Here’s Weeks approach to resolve conflict while preserving relationships. Happy Fall Semester!

Step 1 – Create an Effective Atmosphere – “The atmosphere is the frame around the canvas on which we paint how we will agree, disagree, and build an improved relationship.” (p 71)

Step 2 – Clarify Perceptions – “If we perceive something to be a certain way, even if we are incorrect, in our minds it is that way,  and we often base our behavior on that perception.” (p 89)  Weeks process asks us to clarify “perceptions of the conflict, or the self, an of the conflict partner.” (p 90)

Step 3 – Focus on Individual and Shared Needs – This is one of those simple yet important ideas as people should think both about their own needs (not wants) and the needs of ones conflict partner.

Step 4 – Build Shared Positive Power – Focus on self, partner, and shared power. Weeks encourages us to think in positive terms.  “Positive power seeks to promote the constructive capabilities of all parties involved in a conflict.” (p 151) My preference is that people in conflict are not parties, they are people!

Step 5 – Look to the Future, Then Learn From the Past –  “Even though the past does indeed matter, we deny our own power and the power of development and change if we allow ourselves to be defined by the past, to be trapped in perceptions that use past patterns to limit present and future possibilities.” (p 165)

Step 6 – Generate Options – This step “can often break through the preconceived limitations we bring with us into the conflict resolution process.” (p 183)

Step 7 – Develop ‘Doables’: The Stepping Stones to Action – “Doables are (stepping stones) specific acts that stand a good chance of success, meet some individual and shared needs, and depend on positive power, usually shared power, to be implemented.” (p 204)

Step 8 – Make Mutual-Benefit Agreements – “Instead of demands, the parties focus on developing agreements that can meet some of each party’s needs, accomplish some shared goals, and establish a precedent in which power is defined as positive mutual action through which disagreements can be dealt with constructively.” (p 224)