Nothing good comes from an exit interview. You won’t learn anything you don’t already know and no one wins in the process. That’s pretty declarative. But is true?
I came across this blog post by Edgy Conversations’ Dan Waldschmidt that contains the preceding statements. He is not a recruiter or HR or staffing pro, but says he is a “business strategist who helps companies all over the world arrive at business-changing breakthrough ideas by moving past outdated conventional wisdom.”
In this case, CW says (or rather someone writing at HR World says) “Workers’ last words can provide valuable insights into corporate culture, dysfunctions and opportunities to do better at retaining top talent. It’s important to listen carefully during an exit interview; but more important is to act on the information you receive.”
Nonsense, says Waldschmidt in so many words. “If you are a leader, reading the snotty feedback of disgruntled employees you’ve fired (or let leave on their own) is distracting and counter-productive. So stop listening to HR. Shut down the exit interview process. It’s a mental death trap.”
“If you are a leader, reading the snotty feedback of disgruntled employees you’ve fired (or let leave on their own) is distracting and counter-productive. So stop listening to HR. Shut down the exit interview process. It’s a mental death trap.”
Waldschmidt seems to concentrate his remarks around angry departing employees, who can’t simply put aside their frustrations and calmly share their perspective, but rather want to use the exit interview to simply lash out.
Of course there are those, but plenty of people also end their jobs and complete their staffing engagements on good terms. So I don’t buy the notion that every departing worker’s comments are going to be “acidic and biting and cheap,” and of no value to a company manager or owner.
“That’s because the time for learning is past. The time for a better conversation is past. What went wrong went wrong. It’s important to learn from your mistakes, but there is no reason to rub poison in your eyes. Just do it better next time.”
- Only hire people that you respect enough to listen to their advise — now and sometime in the future.
- Share your company’s goals and vision as often as you can with each member of your team. Pound your story home.
- Take regular time to ask your team members what they think the company should be doing. Ask for “facts” and opinions.
- Give team members responsibility for fixing problems and make them accountable for their results.
- Encourage failure. Discourage excuses. Talk about each, often.
- Fire team members who have negative attitudes or are passive aggressive. Foster candid conversation.
A person who identifies themselves as Kevin commented on Waldschmidt’s blog post, saying,”I don’t have to take the advice of an exiting employee, but I don’t want to miss any early warning of a sinking ship either.“
“I don’t have to take the advice of an exiting employee, but I don’t want to miss any early warning of a sinking ship either.“
Waldschmidt’s response, “I think it’s too late then…. You are right, Kevin, that you should attempt to learn from people leaving your company, but at the time of the exit, the quality of the information is ‘spotty’ at best. It’s like try (sic) to brainstorm engineering and architecture nuggets while you’re sinking on the Titanic. It’s over.”
What do you think? Do you employ exit interviews at your organization? Do you read them? Do you take action on them and try to be deliberate about creating change to address specific remarks, or are you dismissive of the comments? Perhaps it depends on the particular employee, but we’d love to hear how you are using exit interviews. Or why you’re not if that’s the case.