Monday, January 13, 2020

Have Two Exit Interviews

Organizations that conduct exit interviews usually do so just before or right after a person leaves an organization. 

I understand the timing. People scatter to the winds and if there is anything urgent that needs to be corrected, you want to catch it as soon as possible.

The drawback is the person is busy, perspective is skewed, and there may be a tendency to say whatever the interviewer wants to hear.

That's why I suggest conducting a second exit interview three or four months after the person has left. If it simply repeats what the first interview noted, fine. There is a chance, however, that you'll get insights produced by some time away from the organization. 


Julian said...

Hello, Michael.

Thank you for sharing your thoughts on exit interviews.

I don't disagree with what you say but my only observation (for what it's worth -- and, probably, not much...) is that from my experience (a) the information gleaned is never or never properly shared and (b) (putting to one side issues of personality) nothing changes despite the often useful feedback.

I can think of at least one law firm where I explained in very measured terms what I thought was the problem with their partner-centric ("me, me, me") culture but to the best of my knowledge, nothing I said was communicated beyond the person I spoke to and worse still, I'm sure the behaviour got worse, not better. And I'm pretty sure, with the number of people that left the firm, I wasn't the only one to make the same remark.

Best wishes

Michael Wade said...

Hello Julian,

Having seen quite a few dysfunctional organizations, I find the situation you described to be very familiar.

No particular procedure is going to work if an organization is highly dysfunctional. For example, an ethics code can work if the person wants to be ethical. If the person is unethical to begin with, it is unlikely that any regulation or procedure is going to alter the behavior unless there is the high chance that the person will be caught.

On a larger scale, the best policies and procedures in the world will mean nothing if the real behavior of the organization signals that they don't matter. They will be "window dressing.: Good people will sense that and will leave. The people who stay at such places tend to be highly dependent and passive or willing participants in the culture.

You were wise to get out.

Best wishes,