The Exit Interview: The Black Sheep Of The Business World

Losing an employee, valuable or not, can be like a messy break up. It can be socially awkward, uncomfortable for not only the parties involved, but the secondary parties as well (i.e. – the co-workers). It is something that can go completely unnoticed in a mega-corporation, or rock a small business to its very foundation. For the most part, it’s a generally unpleasant experience for all involved.

If you have done all that you may, and the decision is still set for imminent departure, then take one last opportunity to learn something from this individual before you part ways. Enter: The Exit Interview (clever phrasing!)

Exit Interviews come in all shapes and sizes. Even with all of  the myriad jobs that I’ve held over the years, I – personally – have never been given one. Which, to some degree, is a shame because I feel like I had a lot to offer in the way of advice. I might not have, but it makes me feel more important to pretend, nonetheless.

Preparation for the exit interview can be nothing more than finding a quiet area to have a candid chat in or, conversely, it could be the formulation and creation of a series of pointed questions to tease out information that, under normal circumstances (or without copious amounts of alcohol having been first imbibed), employees would not ever be so forthcoming with.

Above all else, the employee must feel comfortable. They must know that you want and need them to be brutally honest. What comes from this experience might hurt your feelings; might confuse or confound you. Keep that all in check – the employee will be less hindered, if you seem level-headed and interested in what he or she has to say. And for goodness sake, do listen to them! This is a perfect opportunity to find out about things in the workplace that others may never mention: a tyrannical manager, an inept co-worker, an unsafe condition, fear of Vampires in the janitor’s closet, and so on. Tough though it may be to hear, don’t exclude yourself from the line of fire, either. You may come to find, in a rare moment of free candor, that the problem is – in fact – staring you in the face every time a mirror is in front of you. Unless you’re a vampire, in which case you’re probably also the problem, especially if you’ve been hanging out in the janitor’s closet as noted above.

Whatever the outcome, plan to act upon the specifics that you feel you have control over. If something is mentioned as lacking, consider adding it. If something is broken in the social hierarchy of the business, take this opportunity to fix or address it before you lose someone due to its existence. If ineptitude is perceived to exist, keep a closer eye on the culprit. If vampires really ARE in the janitor’s closet, buy some garlic futures. Failure to act upon the information means failing to rectify situations that may cause further exodus down the road. And no one – not even your employees – want that.


~ by digitalninjasmedia on March 22, 2012.

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