So often when an employee leaves the corporate ranks they slip away unnoticed and quickly forgotten. This brutal truth is a tragedy as with it is also lost the sum of their experience and knowledge that is an invaluable investment to your organisation. An exit interview is as fundamental to the HR process as the ingoing interview and demands execution with the same finesse.
Four keys to conducting a successful 360-degree exit interview are;
Ask ask ask; ask specific questions, ask open ended questions but whatever you ask, do so respectfully. Your exiting team member stands nothing to gain by offering answers yet your company stands to gain gems of often not available at another time. So acknowledge the value they have to offer and match a high volume of strategic questions with a high volume of respect. This may be an opportunity for your exiting team member to ‘make peace’ so include questions that allow them this right to move on. Something as simple as ‘what can we do better’ is good start.
Having asked your question now is your turn to listen and do so with open ears, open eyes, an open mind and open heart. This is not the time to position blame, warrant decisions made nor get that last word in; but listen and create an environment when your employee may speak openly without fear of retribution. Your exiting team member at this moment probably feels the most freedom to speak openly than ever before, so recognise the opportunity and listen. Make your listening active and take detailed notes or better yet, audio record the conversation. Make sure firstly that your exiting team member is aware and prepared to participate in a recorded conversation with the option to keep the conversation in part or in whole, off-record.
Whether positive, negative or neutral, accept all the information gratefully and with respect. Everybody's employment experience has some uniqueness that may be unfamiliar to your own, accept it in good faith and have a genuine interest in exploring responses. Their reality is after all the sum of their perception, so seek to understand these perceptions - it’s most likely consistent with other team members still in your employ.
LEAVE IT OPEN
Don’t burn the bridge; just because someone has left your organisation, they haven’t ceased to exist. You may need to contact them or require their expertise in the future. The reverse may also be true so don’t make it difficult to reopen lines of communication. They were part of the family at some time before and as the maxim states, blood is thicker than.... well, an employment ID.