Are you managing your employee exits?

One of my assignments sees me having conversations with employees exiting a company. The discussions happen mostly over the phone, and I’ve to admit that barring a couple of cases, till now I’ve enjoyed the experience of being a confidant to unknown and unseen professionals. I’ve also been amazed to see the difference in the emotions they have shared in a quick feedback chat.

Most exude positivity on various policies even while passing along concerns. Conversely, some sound highly depressed, and that makes the conversation heart-wrenching and mentally exhausting. Some years ago, my own experience of exiting a company was stressful for me and devoid of any apparent feedback process, that now I’m glad to see companies viewing the employee exit process as more than just a staff farewell tea and settlement of dues. At some point, I’d like to go over the possible mechanisms to increase employee retention and what it is that matters to people. But this and the next post will simply emphasise the need for viewing the opportunity as a feedback process, and how it can be carried out.

To my mind and in my experience, a planned exit process and interview can become a method to:

  • learn about gaps in organizational policies and management style
  • understand and diffuse organizational politics hampering employee engagement
  • create brand ambassadors by seeking constructive feedback and creating an atmosphere of mutual respect
  • get the high potential exited employees back into the company at a later date
  • identify training and development needs
  • improve upon recruitment and induction processes
  • transfer useful knowledge on contacts or experiences to successors

The aspects of opening itself to feedback or incurring some expenditure on the process are not only small prices to pay by an organization for the above, having a planned exit process is also a best practice for managing one’s employees.

4 thoughts on “Are you managing your employee exits?

  1. Hi,

    How do you record and communicate information from exit interviews? Is a structured process used?

    I’ve found that exit interviews are only half the battle. Using the information wisely is the other.

    Mala

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  2. You’re so very right about the need to take the data forward.

    On the process in use, two instruments were developed last year to address the possible issues at play for internal (from one business unit to another) and external exits. Client company’s feedback was secured on their ambit and depth. During the year long duration of the assignment, a couple more questions have been added after some areas constantly jumped out as those of concern.

    I find it easy to keep the questions in front of me and take rapid notes on a wide writing pad while an interviewee is mulling his experience. I believe that my predecessor typed up answers live.

    I type up the 2-page questionnaire and pass them all by the next day to our Consulting Analyst. What we share with the client at the end of the day is just the status on whether the requested interviews were completed and whether the candidate is open on being rehired in the future. We follow it up with analysed feedback and qualitative inputs as monthly/quarterly/bi-annual reports while maintaining confidentiality on candidate identity.

    Because there have been requests from the client company for varying comparative data, that we’re happy to see the feedback being considered and thought through.

    We’re also looking out for requests from the client on recontacting high performers who’ve been gone at least a year to assess their interest in returning.

    Jyoti

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  3. Keep in mind that most people won’t give you any real negative feedback because they don’t want to burn bridges. If anyone does, it is because there is something very, very wrong is going on with management, and management can’t or won’t do things to change them.

    If your role is really to help the company and not just to serve as a rite of passage (for some companies, the exist interview is a ritual and won’t attempt to gain any real info), then you should focus on any slight negative comment made about the unit. It is probably a lot worse than what they have said.

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  4. Hi Hugo, Yes…I’ve experienced that in many cases…especially in cases of internal exits. Candidates don’t take the point on confidentiality that seriously. But many open up, many begin to trust the process with me being a 3rd party interviewer and that makes me even more vigilant about capturing their feedback well enough to convey it further. Since the client company carries out its internal interview process to transfer knowledge to successors, I see my firm’s role to help the company reduce attrition, aid policy redesign, institute better candidate versus role match mechanisms for a happier workforce. Somewhere, in my head, I see myself as an employee who wasn’t heard while in employment so must be given an avenue to communicate with the management at least while exiting.

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