22 Oct The End of The Exit Interview
You’re in a meeting. Everyone has been circling a topic for some time with no solution in sight. A member of the team has to leave early. They’ve been silent for most of the meeting, but as they head out, you ask them their view on this particular topic. They give their two cents and leave. Their contribution offers a new perspective that no one else had considered. It changes everything. But they are gone, so you cannot develop it with them any further. And you are left with this new idea, trying to implement it without the reference point. This is what an exit interview is like. Except the person represents the people who leave your company and the meeting is your business.
In an ideal situation, they wouldn’t be leaving at all, but sometimes your people have to go. Wouldn’t it be great though if you had asked them sooner? Imagine if everyone at the table heard from that team member regularly throughout the meeting? It would give you ample opportunity to learn more and make positive changes, ones that co-inside with their experiences. Who knows, perhaps they might even change their mind and then stay.
There are several reasons why exit interviews are not the way of the future and are being replaced with more cohesive methods. Let’s look at both, starting with why they are on the way out.
Everything About Them Is Too Late
They are too late for everything. You are getting the information from your people about their time with your company too late. It’s too late to intervene if there is a problem. It’s too late to give praise that can be powered into their next project. It’s too late giving feedback if something could have been changed earlier to improve the outcome. Everything about them is like a final ditch effort or tick the box exercise. Nothing about them says to your people, we value you, your opinion and experience while you were employed here. It’s too late. It’s over.
The Loss is Too Great
The knowledge you can gain from your people when they are with your company is invaluable. Tapping into that education is a no brainer but not tapping into it at the right time, is a significant loss to your perspective as a people leader. And in turn, in advancing your company. People who leave are often replaced, but you cannot replace their experience and what you could have learned from them. When you do the maths, that’s a wealth of company insight walking out the door with no return.
Reactive Rather Than Proactive Responses
Something learned in the exit interview will likely garner a significant actionable response. Very often, however, because this information is new and likely startling, the response can be reactive rather than proactive. It doesn’t help that the person is no longer there as a reference point or as someone to be part of the change required. You are missing a key pillar in the process. This means that something with the potential to make a real positive change ends up being a short-lived attempt. Trying to do something after someone has left about something experienced by that person is like trying to sow seeds in the wrong season. The conditions are off, so is your timing and therefore, so will the results of your efforts.
Exposing Your Company’s Reputation
Based on all of the above, they do absolutely nothing positive for your company rep. If one of your people must leave, at the very least, you would hope they had a good experience and that they would promote the company to others. The life cycle of your employees goes beyond their employment time with you in this regard. You leave yourself and the company vulnerable if you have left your people vulnerable, and the same goes for its reputation. Look after your people, and the rep will look after itself.
So what’s replacing this system? It all about catching and sharing the invaluable knowledge of your people by embedding these processes in the company culture. This is what our software facilitates but here are some of the ways in which you can do it.
We believe in preventative measures. By taking action at the right time, you can intervene before something becomes a bigger problem. For example, our product helps identify if there are areas where your people might be struggling and need support which naturally allows you to assist them and reduce the adverse knock-on effects. Instead of finding out during the exit interview about an issue that could have been avoided, keep informed about what is happening as it’s happening. When you know about it, you can take the action required to make improvements.
How do we achieve this? Well, annual reviews, as well as exit interviews, are no longer going to cut it. You need to strike while the iron is hot on all counts, especially when it comes to feedback; and particularly when it comes to praise. When a specific project is the flavour of the month, that’s when you acknowledge what’s happening with it. And the same should apply to your people. Real-time feedback has a positive impact. Leaving it until the event surrounding it is a distant memory, means your feedback will feel exactly like that, distant, disconnected and carrying little weight. We also mean feedback in both directions. You need to hear it just as much as your people do.
In the same way, we say don’t wait until the end of the year, don’t wait until your people exit to check-in. By linking in regularly, not only will you have a greater insight into what’s happening for your people and your company but you are empowering them by giving them a voice, a space to use it as well as be heard. The positive knock-on effects of this are huge; it empowers your people, they will feel valued and be more engaged.
Whether it’s in the feedback, check-ins, or whatever method you adopt in place of the exit interview, ensure it’s consistent. This builds trust and goes a long way in creating a new culture of connectivity between you and your people. It removes let down and supports engagement. After all, the exit interview is there to hear about the experience of your people in your company. If you adopt a regular approach, you are going to deepen these professional relationships and get the best out of these interactions.
With exit interviews, you allow valuable insight to walk out the door. Everything about them is too late, and the loss to your company is too great. Ultimately, you want to stop the valuable information you need to advance your business from bleeding out of your company. Scrapping old school ways that no longer mirror how people operate today and replacing them with updated approaches that reflect what’s important to them is non-negotiable. Establishing these new methods is also the gateway to new and improved company culture; one where you don’t have to rely on the exit interview to know about what’s truly going on under your nose.