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Exit Interviews May Save You From An Early Exit: Consulting Group Finds Most Departures Go Uninvestigated

Friday, June 1, 2007

The Society for the Advancement of Consulting® (SAC) in its monthly canvass of its members, has learned that most firms generally ignore exit interviews among the voluntary departures.

"If you pay attention to why people leave," notes SAC CEO Alan Weiss, Ph.D., "you may just learn how to get your best people to stay. But this function either isn't done or is relegated to junior members of human resources, which is the same as not doing it."

Ross Mitchel, president or Implementations, Inc. in Austin, TX summarizes for his colleagues:

"Check your emotions at the door. You are there to learn, not for your final chance to get something off your chest or to make sure the employee understands your perspective on what went wrong, etc. It no longer matters, and this type of confrontation is counterproductive to getting the most you can from the interview.

"Make sure employees feel heard and appreciated during their exit interview. They may not have always felt that way while working for you, and a positive final experience in which they feel appreciated can create a lot of good will - including recommending your company to other prospective employees.

"It's not over when it's over. The end of the interview is just the beginning of making use of the information. All too often, exit interviews never make it beyond the employee's file, so be sure you have a systematic way to review the information and use it to improve your organization."

Roberta Chinsky Matuson, president of Human Resource Solutions in Northampton, MA adds: "Give the departing employee an opportunity to complete the exit interview form prior to meeting with them. This approach will enable you to use the time set aside for the exit interview to obtain more detailed information on areas of concern."

Weiss says that senior executives should regularly take part in exit interviews to learn firsthand what drives people from the company, since there is no fear or reprisal and the exchange is likely to be quite honest. "Delegating this to others is like delegating strategy to others. If you don't learn from this personally, how will you learn?"

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