The Power of Exit Interviews

It’s been a month for exit interviews and this has reminded us – exit interviews are powerful.  We work off the premise that no resignation should be a surprise.  The two stand out exits this week were not surprises, we knew the employees may resign, we had been engaging in ongoing conversations to try and work through their concerns.  As we had spoken on a number of occasions, we wondered whether exit interviews were even required.  Being a stickler for process, we invited the parties to meet, and so glad we did.

For both, the exit interviews were conducted on their second last day.  Their hand over notes were done, they presented in the exit interview with a sense of calm, displaying behaviours we’d not seen as they had been more emotional during previous discussions.  As a result, the feedback, information, suggestions, and perceptions were more meaningful than expected.

Our exit interview process is quite matter of fact, it is us asking standard questions and typing the responses, digging deeper to uncover the root cause of problems they have experienced and gathering their suggestions to prevent further resignations.  The insights were incredibly valuable.

Action

Whether you are a manager, CEO, board member or board chair, make exit interviews part of your data set.  Ask for them, read them, take the content in and focus on the actions that will be taken as a result of the feedback.  Most importantly, is the honest feedback to the manager responsible for the exiting employee.  Whether you feel the feedback is right or wrong, that is not the point.  Excuses are not helpful.  Perception is reality.  To improve, to be better, we need to walk in the exiting employees shoes, understand their perceptions and work to change them.  Only then can we build the culture we strive to achieve.

Take the time to conduct exit interviews.  More importantly, take the time and effort to communicate the issues and action to rectify.