Everett Spain and Boris Groysberg understand in an article for Harvard Business Review that nobody ever wants to see a great employee leave. Thus, businesses must make the best of exit interviews to understand people’s motivations for leaving and use that info to retain more employees moving forward. Spain and Groysberg explain how. The point of a good exit interview, conducted via any number of means, is to create “competitive intelligence” by learning what is and is not working in the business, and where opportunities for improvement may lie. Two challenges to good exit interviews include (1) leaving employees maybe not being utterly candid in their responses and (2) a lack of consensus on how to conduct the interview. In response to that second problem, the authors believe there are six goals that should come from a solid exit interview program:
- Uncover issues relating to HR.
- Understand employee perceptions of their work.
- Gain insight into managers’ leadership style and quality.
- Learn about competitors’ HR benchmarks.
- Solicit ideas for business improvement.
- Create lifelong advocates for the organization.
A second-line manager (your boss’s boss) might receive more honest answers from a departing employee than a direct manager. To derive less perfunctory answers but also find some useful patterns, consider combining some informal discussion with some standardized, formal questions. For even further insights into how to extract the most useful information from employees saying goodbye, you can view the full article here: https://hbr.org/2016/04/making-exit-interviews-count