With uncomfortable or inappropriate questions, the most effective replies tend to be brief and vague.
Q: I’m not sure how to handle questions from my manager about my retirement plans. I had previously shared some preliminary thoughts with him, so now he’s asking if that’s what I intend to do. Although he has emphasized that he wants me to stay, he seems to be thinking about my successor. Is this legal? And how should I respond to him?
A: If I were talking to your boss, I would strongly advise him to drop this line of inquiry. While a question about retirement may not actually be illegal, broaching the subject can easily be interpreted as age discrimination. For you, however, pointing out his error would not be the best response.
With uncomfortable or inappropriate questions, the most effective replies tend to be brief and vague. For example: “Since I really like my job, I’m not currently thinking about retirement plans. But when that time comes, I will be sure to give you sufficient notice.”
As I’m sure you now realize, your initial mistake was in sharing those “preliminary retirement thoughts.” Whenever an employee mentions leaving, management immediately sees a flight risk and begins pondering possible replacements.