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How Exit Interviews Play a Role in Leadership

Tuesday May 16th 2017

Exit-InterviewAs a leader within your company, one of your primary concerns should be the culture you are cultivating in the office. Are your employees satisfied? Do they feel valued? Do they feel motivated and productive? It’s not always possible to have a perfect understanding of the climate within the office, but without making company culture a priority, you may find yourself with a high employee turnover rate.

Whether an employee has been terminated or chooses to leave on their own, the information you can gather from them on their way out is invaluable to the further growth of your company. Don’t skip over the exit interview – learn from it.

Set a Meeting

While it may be tempting to allow exiting employees to complete a survey online or on paper – after all, it’s probably easier and you may be uncomfortable with the face-to-face – don’t give into that temptation. Schedule an in-person meeting during the last day or two of employment to give an opportunity for more in-depth conversation, which opens the door for more detailed feedback. Person-to-person conversations also demonstrate your willingness to listen and the value you place in their opinions. The gesture will be appreciated, and the conversation will be much more productive than anything you could read on a piece of paper.

Ask the Right Questions

In order to get the most valuable information from an exit interview, you have to ask the right questions. Exit interviews will help you recognize what’s working – such as an employee’s experience with a helpful manager – and also what’s not working – such as an employee’s feeling of not having enough opportunities for upward mobility. To get information that will help you make positive changes within the company, ask some of the following questions:

  • Why are you leaving?
  • What are we doing right in this company?
  • What are we doing wrong in this company?
  • How could we make improvements?
  • Is there anything you would do improve the situation that has caused you to leave?
  • Please describe your feelings about the work environment here.
  • What three things did you most enjoy about your time here?
  • What three things did you not enjoy about your time here?
  • Is there anything you wish you had known before starting employment here that we could use to better our employee orientation program?
  • Who are three people who have made the most impact on you and your career here?
  • What advice would you give to the person who will next take your position?

Asking the right questions will determine the value of any exit interview for you and your company. But asking the wrong questions could determine the value of the experience for your employee. Don’t include questions in your exit interview that are too personal or that feed into office gossip. Avoid asking anything that might lead to you speaking negatively about a coworker. Your employee may voice negative comments about a coworker or supervisor that directly contributed to them leaving the company, but it would be inappropriate for you to join that conversation. Listen to their concerns and make notes of the conversation but don’t engage in it. The exit interview is your final impression on the employee leaving your company. Keep it professional and as positive as possible.

Don’t Ignore the Feedback

The purpose of any exit interview is to identify opportunities for improvement within your company. Share the information with members of the management team and discuss ways to make positive changes that will benefit your remaining and future staff.

Exit interviews also give you an opportunity to find patterns that could identify organizational issues. If you’ve had several employees leave the company with similar answers to their exit interview questions, it’s time to take actions to avoid losing more employees. Don’t ignore the important information you can receive from exit interviews, as it could save your company from further losses.

Many people dread doing exit interviews. They can be a little uncomfortable, especially when dealing with a disgruntled employee. But they are a valuable resource in keeping track of the work environment you are cultivating and will help you build a stronger company in the long run.

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