Staying Engaged



Tommy and I were meeting recently with an intergenerational family business. The transition from one generation to the next is nearly done. We were asking “Dad” (“Joe” – not his real name) how things were progressing. Joe was excited to get to the end of the year, when he would finally be “free” and on to this thing called RETIREMENT.


As Tommy listened, he said to Joe, “It sounds to me like this is the Spring Semester of your senior year.” Immediately, the thought popped into my head:


Joe has “senioritis.”


I said that out loud to the group and we all had a good laugh. What is it “they” say: The truth is often spoken in jest?


Can you remember back to your senior year in high school? For some of us (ME) that’s more than 4 decades ago…For most, dare I say all, of us, motivation wasn’t high. We were counting days. Couldn’t wait for graduation. Many of us had already decided on college and GPAs suffered that last semester.


Senioritis = Disengagement


While that disengagement might play well for a high school senior, be careful when it comes to “graduating” from your family business. If senioritis sets in, some of the know how/know who might be lost to the business; some of it in a way that may never be recovered. NOT GOOD!


Permit me to share a couple of questions to use if you think someone in your organization may be suffering from senioritis. And don’t forget to look in the mirror…that someone may be you…


  1. What will keep me engaged until the end?
  2. Fast forward 6 months/6 years. If I’m not the one exiting, what would I want to know now that I might not be able to retrieve in 6 months/6 years?
  3. What would it look like to finish strong?
  4. What value might “senior” have after graduation?
  5. Who will I BE after I graduate?


And, oh, by the way, if you’re not yet in the Spring Semester of your senior year, don’t wait until you are to begin to address these questions.  In the end, your Team will thank you for staying engaged and you’ll be glad you did!


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