When John*, a highly talented manager took over the technical team at an assembly plant, he had eighteen members in his team. By the end of the third quarter, eight of his team members had left the team. No one could understand why the turnover in the team was so high. It took the intervention of a junior member of the human resources team to find out why the turnover was so high. After interviewing some of the former members of the technical team, it became apparent that John was the reason why most of the members of the technical team had left the organization. Most of the ex-employees described him as highly driven but difficult to work with. They described him as arrogant, impatient, prone to anger outbursts and a poor communicator. Most of them stated that they loved working for the organization but they found it impossible to continue working with John.
Like John’s organization, most organizations do not conduct exit interviews. Others conduct the interviews but they do not analyze the data. This could be as a result of the lack of appropriate skills and tools to enable them to analyze data. In this era where evidence-based approaches to talent management are the key to winning the war on talent, this could be detrimental to the organization. In some instances, organizations have data gathered from exit interviews but are hesitant to implement the findings. This is could be as a result of failing to align the overall objectives of the organization with the talent strategy. As a result of this, evidence gathered through observing the trends in the organization’s talent is disregarded and the organization continues to suffer from high turnover and lack of motivation among the employees.
Any organization seeking to constantly improve its talent strategy needs to conduct exit interviews.
An exit interview can be conducted via phone, an emailed questionnaire or one on one conversation. A one-on-one conversation gives a personal touch giving the panel an opportunity to gather more information through nonverbal communication cues. However, if the organization lacks a culture of transparency, it could be difficult to gain useful information during exit interviews in spite of the mode of data collection that is employed. The timing of the exit interview needs to be carefully considered. It is difficult to get employees to give honest answers in the last few weeks of their notice period. This is because most employees would like to make a good impression and get a good reference. If possible, it would be better to carry out the exit interview at the start of the notice period before the employee gets disengaged. Some organizations that have reaped the benefits of exit interviews conduct the interviews before the employee leaves the organization and a few months after the employee has left the organization in order to compare the perspectives.
In order to benefit from the data obtained from exit interviews, the organization should treat the information with the utmost confidentiality. One of the best ways to ensure confidentiality is to use an external human resource consultant to carry the exit interview. In order to fully reap the benefits of such a partnership, the organization should identify a Recruitment Firm that understands its talent needs and wants to help the organization to improve the talent strategy. The organization should be willing to learn from the insights gathered and work with the firm towards ensuring that the findings are incorporated into the talent strategy.
An exit interview is an opportunity to gain insights into the leadership styles within the organization and their overall effect on talent in the organization. It is often said that while some leaders are born, others are made. In the case cited above, the organization would have identified John’s weaknesses and strengths as a leader and helped him grow in his areas of weakness. Future training initiatives for leaders in the organization should include lessons on effective communication. Leaders in the organization can develop mentorship programmes for their employees where learning is emphasized and mistakes are seen as opportunities for growth. The shame-based learning culture in the case cited above can be corrected by ensuring that team leaders provide inspiration and motivation for their team members. In the future, the organization can also ensure that all team leaders undergo personality assessments.
Organizations can use exit interviews as a strategy to identify areas where they need to employ innovation. As the business environment becomes competitive, an organization can only thrive by being proactive in their approach. Some of the best ideas on how organizations can grow in terms of their products, their services and their talent can be obtained through the analysis of the data gained from exit interviews.
Would you like us to help you conduct exit interviews? Talk to Crystal Recruitment today and let us help you improve your talent strategy.