The normal person doesn’t wake up one morning and spontaneously decide he is fed up with his manager and wants to switch companies. Deciding to leave a job is a long, ruminating process that usually involves sneaking away to interview at other organizations.
As a manager, how great would it be if you could capture that “long, ruminating process?” If you could peek into your employee’s window of reality and really understand why he is quitting? You definitely can, and it’s called an exit interview.
In an ideal world, you would address issues associated with turnover before employees get out the door, but we know that’s not always possible or realistic. The second best option is to gather valuable information from the employee who is leaving in the form of an exit interview. You don’t want people to quit and never understand why they left, or what challenges they were facing at work.
So, in the midst of someone quitting, how do you ensure that both parties have a comfortable, effective interview that will ultimately help you with retention?
Here are three things to consider:
Enlist the help of a third party: Employees are 100% more likely to be honest and candid with their feelings with a neutral third party. Can you imagine telling your boss you’re quitting, and then having to tell him all the things you disliked about the organization and your job? You probably wouldn’t paint the whole picture. Same goes with your employees – make sure they feel comfortable and trust the person who conducts the interview to ensure honest, actionable answers.
Ask the right questions: Many departing employees don’t want to throw their colleagues or managers under the bus, even if they were the reason they quit. So, keep their probable reluctance for criticism in mind. Ask questions like, “Why did you start looking for a new job?” and “What is your new employer giving you that you did not get from us?” rather than “Why are you quitting?”
Keep track of all responses: Conduct the same exit interview each time an employee leaves. Over time, keep a record of what people say. Once you identify patterns and find out why employees leave, you can decide if you need to change practices and policies to improve employee retention.
It’s never easy when an employee quits. You are scrambling to reallocate workload and find a replacement, and the employee is dealing with all his last-minute projects and training other colleagues.
But, it is imperative that you take the time to conduct an exit interview. The departing employee will appreciate voicing concerns and having closure, and you will gain important information that will help you save money and improve employee retention in the long run.