7 Tips for the next Exit Interview

whisperHe came to me while I was busy reading my book. He tried to say something but soon realized that I was too engrossed in reading. He sat down beside me and waited for me to give him my attention which I didn’t even after couple of more minutes. He took another attempt and this time he was almost face close and I saw his anxious face. He probably wanted to share something with me.

This time I gently reciprocated and he whispered something in my ear. I heard him patiently though he was so soft that half things I couldn’t make out but still I just nodded affirmatively and once he finished I hugged him and with a kiss on his cheeks said , “It’s OK”.

My reaction just changed his expression and he smiled back and went back running to his new play date.

Yes, my four year old wanted to tell me his little secret which I was ignoring for some reason and the moment he shared and saw me giving him a listening ear he seemed so relieved

This incidence made me closely relate to our day to day operations of managing people. Just like my son many a times people just want to be heard and they look up to someone who can provide that vent out space to them. It could be immediate manager, a colleague or HR rep. However in the busy world where we all are ready to react even before the act who has time to listen. We all are ready with our judgments and expert advices without realizing may that is not even needed.

A classic example is the exit interview scenario where many a times we go are working in self defence which however is not needed since we have already lost the battle. However we might still have chance to win heart and for that we should take care of following:

  1. Plan the interview and block the calendar before the last working day. This would help in structuring thoughts and framing the right set of questions way in advance and also avoid the last day –last minute discussions.
  2. Time to switch to ‘Listen only’ mode as explanations wouldn’t fetch anything to either sides. Stage of exit would have come after evaluating and considering all the possible permutations and combinations. Stay calm and give all the room for discussion to the person. That might be your last chance to get some really valuable inputs.
  3. It’s not the time to retain or upsell a new positions but to gather the feedback. The opportunity should be discussed much before the last day .However though at times people do get retained on last day but that’s because no one discussed it with them before.
  4. Note down the feedback if the employee is comfortable and it also would make the outgoing employee feel heard seriously.
  5. Not everyone is vocal but your questions should be such that it can make the person talk .Having open ended questions are much better than ones which have replies in just yes or no
  6. Don’t defend anyone and neither do you blame the outgoing employee. Everyone has been doing there jobs and respecting the difference of opinion is the best way to work in larger teams.
  7. Do mention the highlights/achievements of the outgoing employee towards the end of the discussion as you end the interview. This would leave him with sweet memories about the good times spend.

Exits indeed are the most painful piece of HR Management . All the efforts of on-boarding and engaging fail when someone leaves the organization. Different people have different reasons but somewhere someone disconnected with the story and that disconnect could have been heard at the right time. Not that we don’t listen but we might sometimes need to JUST LISTEN and decide on further actions much later.

As a mom I am learning to be active listener so I can sense his problems much before they become a sore 🙂


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