Before You Go… The Exit Interview - Connecticut Association of ...

Before You Go… The Exit Interview - Connecticut Association of ...

Before You Go… The Exit Interview - Connecticut Association of ...


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Before You Go…The Exit InterviewBy David Lewis, OperationsIncThe employee peers in and asks if they cantalk to you. They close the door, and thenthey say it — I am leaving; I resign; I quit.This is one of the low points a manager inany business has to face. When the dustsettles we move into response mode as wetry and plan for a future without that employee.Unfortunately, what is frequentlymissed in the middle of this moment is theopportunity that an Exit Interview couldbring if executed properly.An Exit Interview consists of a meetingwith the resigning party with the purposeof learning why they are leaving and essentiallytargeted at identifying the issuesin your workplace. They usually result incandid discussions that possess some ofthe most valuable information a businesscould hope to secure. While some of whatyou will hear in the interview are thingsyou already know or don’t want to know,any information about the health of yourorganization is of some value.Exit Interviews should be conductedby the person who owns the HumanResources function or a professionallyskilled third party who is retained onlyto perform these and report back onthe results. The more objective-lookingthe person the better, as this perceptionwill result in richer feedback from theexiting employee. Usually these occurin the office during the last few days ofemployment, although it is not unusual toreach out after the person has left. This isnot recommended, however, as you tendto have a tougher time engaging them ontheir own time versus while they are stillon your payroll.Page 16 | Nonprofit Advantage | March 2010The line of questioning has been boileddown by some to a form, a checklist oreven a set of standard questions. Whilethis will certainly yield some useful information,a more creative approach can bemore effective — an approach that is tiedto one mission: learning, from this person’svantage point, the issues with your firmthat resulted in theirresignation. Askthem what couldhave changed sixmonths or a yearago that could haveresulted in themstaying with yourcompany. Anotherpossibility is to mixin a fantasy scenariothat puts them inthe role of CEO for the last year wherethey brief you on what they have changedabout the firm during their tenure. Thisstyle of questioning yields more honestand creative responses.You don’t have to dispense withother questions such as asking aboutsupervisors, co-workers, companycommunication, and any other issues thatmay be relevant. The more creative andspontaneous you are, the better the result.You should ask some direct questions,including asking their opinion on howothers view the firm and if the issuesthat drove them to resign will also driveothers out in the near term. Seek outinformation and insight on any liabilityissues including, but not limited to, anyharassment committed by managementor other employees, labor violations, etc.Exit interviews usually resultin candid discussions thatpossess some of the mostvaluable information a businesscould hope to secure.Opinions on leadership style are helpful tosolicit, and asking about their new job isalso of great value. Lastly, always give theindividual a chance to throw in anythingyou have not asked about by asking ifthere is anything else they wish to share.All of the information gathered should beduly noted and recorded.Now that you havethis informationyou need to putit to good use.Assemble whatyou obtained fromthe Exit Interviewinto a report tobe reviewed withsenior management.If you average fiveor more resignations per month you cancreate reporting that removes names andsources and talks in terms of feedback andtrends collectively. This allows for lessof a chance that management will dismisscollected data due to what could beviewed as a questionable or disgruntledsource — e.g. Bob was a poor employeeso his opinion does not matter. Whenyou have a smaller population youcannot easily get around this issue. Thisis feedback that needs to be reviewed,discussed and, in many cases, acted upon.Many say that the Exit Interview resultsgive them information they alreadyknow, and more importantly, highlightareas that are out of our control: We paytoo little; we work our people too hard;we don’t provide enough training. Thereality is that there will be some feedbackCONNECTICUT ASSOCIATION OF NONPROFITS

that you cannot act on, but mixed in willbe data that can spark change, reinforceperceptions or knock them down.Regardless of what you learn, it will allcarry value. Making Exit Interviews a partof your overall HR processes will make adifference, almost certainly for the better.David Lewis is a human resources professionaland President/CEO of OperationsInc, aStamford, CT based human resources outsourcingand consulting firm. His firmprovides HR support to over 400 area clients,including but not limited to support in the areaof Exit Interview Outsourcing. You can findmore information at www.OperationsInc.com.David is also presenting a workshopthough CT Nonprofits’ Center forProfessional Development. “Social Mediaand Your Employees: How the Use of SocialMedia by Your Employees Can ImpactYour Business” will be held on Friday,April 23 from 9 a.m. – 12 p.m. at the JamesBlackstone Memorial Library in Branford.This highly informational workshop willcover topics such as: Using social mediato screen new hires; the new role forconfidentiality/non-disclosure agreements;policy statements on social media use;and tracking activity and reacting tounfavorable postings. For more details andto register, visit www.ctnonprofits.org/education/offerings.whether you’re looking forthe perfect employee or nonprofit careermake sure you’re heading in theVisit CT Nonprofits’Online Career Center!www.ctnonprofits.orgThink she’s concerned aboutgovernance and transparency,403(b) benefit plan audits,or audited financial statements?We don’t either.At Kostin, Ruffkess & Company, our goal is to supportyou with specialized accounting, auditing, taxand business advisory services so you can stayfocused on helping those who depend on you.For information, contact Patricia McGowanor Kimberly Nardone, Members of the Firmand Not-for-Profit Group LeadersFarmington, n ew London, SpringF ieL d • 800-286-5726 • www.kostin.comCONNECTICUT ASSOCIATION OF NONPROFITSNonprofit Advantage | March 2010 | Page 17

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