Magazine article New Zealand Management

The Truth about Exits

Magazine article New Zealand Management

The Truth about Exits

Article excerpt

Q Our human resource team interviews people leaving our company and comes up with detailed statistics on about 50 different topics. It's way more than I want but the HR director insists this is the right approach. Who's right?

A Chuck out your current questionnaire. It's trying too hard. Your HR people are also trying too hard to demonstrate their own value. That's often the case. A chief exec or HR manager reckons--quite logically--that there's value in identifying the reasons why people leave an organisation. The head honchos want to get some feedback on important issues affecting employment. So, they ask an HR administrator to develop an exit interview system.

This person usually ends up creating a questionnaire that covers a huge range of issues: they want to know why the person is leaving and also understand the person's satisfaction or dissatisfaction with their employment. There's too much detail and the whole thing often misses the real reason the person has decided to leave.

Plus, when people leave an organisation they usually want to leave a good impression so their comments are fairly guarded. They like to say innocuous stuff and keep it general.

You'd be better off focusing on when the person actually made the decision to leave. This simplifies the process enormously. The discussion can also be a lot more informal. Get your interviewers to ask: 'When did you make the decision to leave?' It's as simple as that.

This immediately focuses the conversation on an actual, rather than a hypothetical, situation. The interviewer then encourages the person to describe what happened, how they felt and what finalised the decision.

For example, "I was in a management meeting and I suddenly looked around and thought 'do I really want to work with these people for another year?'" Or, "I was very happy in my work and felt I was developing well. On Wednesday last week my manager asked me if I would withdraw my application for a new role as he felt another person should get a chance."

In the first example the person was clearly not aligned with the rest of the organisation. In the second they had suddenly lost trust and confidence in their manager and the company overall.

Q Friends who are managers at large organisations keep talking about how they are using balanced scorecards at work. …

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