Exit interviews are a human-resources tool not to be neglected. They can be a terrific way to gather honest information from departing employees about everything from your work environment and your managerial style to toxic staff and employee morale. Respondents to our Best Practices Poll-of whom 58% believe exit interviews are an effective tool for learning what your employees really think of you-offered a few tips for making the most out of them. These included:
- “Ask them what benefits and training they liked, and what they suggest would improve the workplace and conditions,” recommends joyneish.
- “This is not rocket science,” opines stephen.southern. “You simply have to get people to open up. While a person leaving your firm does have something to lose by alienating the firm or the interviewer (e.g. future goodwill, positive references, impact on friends still within the firm), he has far less to lose than your average employee. Thus, this is your best chance to really learn something! Start by developing trust and intimacy. Acknowledge some of the faults within the organization. Admit some personal responsibility where appropriate. Make it extremely clear that the interviewee’s comments will not be attributed to him or her. Then start exploring why he is leaving, and ultimately, what’s going on within your organization, and how you can improve.”
- Tempherb isn’t a big fan of exit interviews: “With few variations, exit interviews deliver either pre-determined opinions based on the individual experiences (whether positive or negative) or simply turn in non-specific tripe. The negative answers do tend to reveal some areas of weakness but are generally focused on people issues and involve conflict with either peers or supervisors. This tends to reveal more to me about the individual making the complaints unless I happen to get a spate of the same type of complaint about the same individual. Positive answers are no more helpful in that they tend to be too general to be of any real use.”
For his answer, stephen.southern will win a copy of How to Grow when Markets Don’t by Adrian Slywotzky and Richard Wise.
Watch for another Best Practices Poll in the next PROFIT-Xtra.