Exit Interviews


How many managers actually conduct an exit interview when someone leaves? How many do so but simply complete the tick box form provided by HR?

Let’s think about this for a moment. Regardless of the reason someone is leaving your organisation, each has a story to tell. If they don’t tell their story to you then they will tell it to someone else. What if their story is not very nice I hear you ask? All the better you need to hear what people have to say – both the good and the bad.

I will go one step further. You can change the way people percieve their time in your employment by asking them one simple question. Forget the tick box questions from HR, they will serve little purpose. Instead ask this, “what have you enjoyed most about your time at this organisation”. Notice I am suggesting a positive question. Instead of inviting them to be critical; invite them to be positive.

People like to talk about themselves and they like to talk about the things that they enjoy. Use that knowledge to frame the questions you ask.

Take time to listen. This is the other person’s moment, not yours. You invited them to provide feedback, the least you can do is respect them for doing so by listening, without judgment to their answer. Ignore any temptation to argue with them or justify the status quo – afterall they have already resigned – whatever has been in place in the past is irrelevant to them. Your focus is on the future.

In taking some time with your departing employees and by asking them questions that encourage them to talk, to share their experiences and to put forward their ideas you create a good impression. It means their last and final impression of your organisation is a good one. No matter what their previous experiences have been, they will never forget their final impression. It is this story they will tell others.

And don’t forget. One day they might have developed some knowledge or skill that could be useful to you and both parties might want to discuss coming back together for mutual benefit. This will not occur if their final memory is a bad one and vica versa.

And, if you have to complete the dreaded tick box form from HR then do so, only after you have listened to the stories of the person departing.

Let The Journey Continue

John Coxon

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About John Coxon

Principal consultant for John Coxon & Associates, a management consultancy working with boards and management teams in healthcare, aged care and not for profit organisations to develop effective strategic planning processes and social enterprise business plans
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