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The Exit Interview

Do you interview your employees before they leave your business? If you don’t, you should.

Create an environment that encourages individuals to be open, constructive and honest in their exit interview. Anything discussed here should be kept confidential and used as a learning tool for you to enhance your business. This is not about getting a line manager into trouble or ‘blaming’ anyone for this individual deciding to leave the organisation. It is an opportunity for you to hear first-hand what has led to a member of your team wanting to move on.

The purpose of these is so you can take on board feedback from people that have worked for your company and have experienced the culture, workload and development opportunities so what have you got to lose!

Invite them to an exit interview and give them time to prepareMake the most of the opportunity to hear from your leaver, write to them inviting them to an exit interview and explain that as a valued member of the team you would like to have an open discussion with them about their experience of working within your business. Perhaps a loose agenda outlining the areas you would like to cover will set the platform for them to prepare for the meeting in a constructive, thought-through way.

Listen, take it all in. You may disagree with an individual’s feedback and that’s fine, but you may find patterns emerging that you can improve on.

It doesn’t have to be negative. Just because someone is leaving it doesn’t mean there is anything wrong with your organisation. Maybe they got the offer of a lifetime. Maybe their personal circumstances have changed. Maybe they have reached the glass ceiling and it is simply time to continue their journey somewhere different. Maybe your competitor is offering something that you haven’t considered? Find out what has drawn them away from your business and to the new one.

Use this exit interview as an opportunity to learn about why this person liked working for your business. What did you do well, why were they interested in the business at the outset, what was it that kept them with you for the duration of time that they have stayed and what, if anything has changed? Was there anything that they felt could have stopped them from being open to opportunities in the market.

Exit interviews have a bad rep. Employees feel uncomfortable expressing their reasons for moving on – they don’t want to get anyone into trouble or to seem bitter. They may adopt the attitude that there is no point in them being honest about anything potentially negative because they are leaving. If you can create an atmosphere of trust and genuine interest in their thoughts and opinions it can only lead to more information and knowledge for you to help you mould and shape your business in the future. There may well be things that as a business you could have handled better – it’s a learning opportunity, so take it. Leave your defences at the door and take the positives as well as the negatives on board.

Utilising the exit interview in a positive and productive way can enhance your future retention levels. It may even lead to you making decisions to change certain business processes. It is also an opportunity for your employee to leave in the right way – they will forever remember your brand as the business that cared, that listened, that took on board their viewpoints. Always leave the door open, maybe there is an opportunity for you to re-hire this individual in the future if the right opportunity arises later down the line that matches their career aspirations.

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