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Conducting Effective Exit Interviews
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Conducting Effective Exit Interviews

by Tim Connor

Do you have an exit strategy in your organization? Do you conduct exit interviews regularly? Do you take what you have learned from them and apply it to your organization's policies, procedures or philosophy? Is the process working?

  • Do you have an exit strategy, process and objectives when you lose an employee for any reason?
  • Do you do them regularly?
  • Do you take what you have learned from them and apply it to your role as a manager or your organization's policies, procedures or philosophy?
  • Is the process working?


If your answer to the questions above questions were all yes, get back to work and don't bother with any of the following unless you are interesting in improving yourself or your organization no matter how good or effective you think you are. How about one more question before I lose some of you. Could it be modified or improved to give you better results?

You would be amazed at how few organizations routinely conduct exit interviews with employees who leave or only do them with certain positions like; sales, management or directors. If the janitor leaves there is something you can learn. If a new employee leaves within a few months there is something you can learn. If you terminate a poor performer there is something you can learn. I hope I have made my point. Every employee that leaves regardless of the reason or reasons can teach you something about your organization or your management style that will help you improve some aspect of your business.

Here are a few important reasons to conduct exit interviews if you are not doing them.

  • Departing employees will tend to be more honest about issues, challenges etc than employees who need their next paycheck.
  • Departing employees can shed new light on challenges, management style, missed opportunities or policies or procedures that just are not working and could be improved.
  • Most departing employees will be more than happy to give you honest feedback if asked.
  • You will have the opportunity to get feedback on your management style.

Here a few things to consider when conducting them.

  • Don't burn bridges. You never know when a former employee can either help or hurt you in some way in the future.
  • You might want to have another manager or HR person present during these interviews.
  • Have a process or strategy to evaluate what you learn from these employees.
  • Don't get defensive and keep your ego out of the discussion. It's just about you learning not proving anything.
  • The manager or supervisor who the employee reported to should conduct these interviews.
  • If you can't handle bad news or truth, either don't conduct these or change your mindset. Guess which might be the best approach?
  • Don't make it a contest.
  • Don't invalidate the former employee, their former supervisor or the organization in any way.

Exit interviews don't need to take a lot of time or be a complicated process. Their purpose is to learn things that for whatever reason some of your current employees are unwilling to share with you. By the way, if you learn some of the same things consistently from departing employees it might make sense to begin to change some of the factors that may be occurring in your business or department.

Tim Connor, CSP is an internationally renowned sales, management and leadership speaker, trainer and best selling author. Since 1981 he has given over 4000 presentations in 21 countries on a variety of sales, management, leadership and relationship topics. He is the best selling author of over 70 books including; Soft Sell, That's Life, SOLD, 81 Challenges Managers Face and Your First Year In Sales. He can be reached at tim@timconnor.com, 704-895-1230 or visit his websites at [http://www.timconnor.com] or [http://soldbook.com].

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