July 28, 2021
A Victorian educational organisation had identified an opportunity for the provision of a structured framework of support for School Principals approaching retirement age.
Brockhurst Consulting was approached to engage with these Principals to support them in preparing for their life beyond principalship.
- Workforce profile data showed there was a growing cohort of School Principals who were approaching retirement age
- Late career Principals hold significant and valued knowledge and wisdom which leaves the organisation when they retire and yet robust succession planning was not often in place
- It is not understood how “well” past Principals were managing their retirement; there was anecdotal evidence to suggest that some retired Principals may be experiencing challenges past employment which could be addressed with better support during the retirement process
- Given the potentially sensitive nature of retirement planning, the creation of a safe environment for the Transitioning to Life Beyond Principalship Program was vital where confidentiality was maintained and all conversations with the participants were conducted and reported in a way which ensured anonymity
- Retirement is a complex issue which tends to invoke mixed emotions during a period of uncertainty and change, so understanding the mindset and perceptions of the Principals before rolling out this program was seen as a critical factor in the successful delivery of the Program’s objectives
- We engaged with long-serving Principals/ex-Principals and other key stakeholders through focus groups to assist us in the design and development of the Program
- Surveys and strategic discovery sessions with the organisation’s Leadership and other key stakeholders were conducted and provided the opportunity for a broader cohort to contribute to the Program design
- Given no such Program had been previously offered, a small group were invited to participate in an 18 month Pilot Program
- A ‘Transitioning to Life Beyond Principalship’ Program was conducted that included:
- A participant manual with resources, tools and activities
- Individual coaching conversations prior to and during the Program
- Two group workshops*
*The second workshop focused on sharing learnings and reflections as well as supporting the progress of participants’ individual plans.
- 100% of program participants rated their experience as extremely or very valuable, “this was an invaluable opportunity to take the time to reflect and to help shape my future”
- 100% of participants stated they benefitted from the Program’s learnings and had acquired valuable new skills for preparation to transitioning beyond a Principal role; participants were encouraged to think about their transferable skills, hobbies, interests and how these could be integrated into the next stage of their life
- The participants all commented that they felt far less isolated in their concerns about retirement and aging having been in a safe facilitated environment discussing sensitive issues with their colleagues
- The Program reinforced with participants the importance of starting to plan early and ‘kickstarted’ participants to take action in all four ‘life dimensions’ of the framework (Identity, Routine, Network and Health & Wellbeing) shared with them. It also encouraged them to talk to family, friends, their extended network, and colleagues who have retired
- An intentional strategy and vision for the “employee experience” of a retired Principal was created; it is expected that the positive messaging around the Program and the feedback on the support received will encourage a larger succession pipeline of Principals
- Based on the positive feedback, further Programs are planned to be run for the organisation’s large mature age Principal cohort
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