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Exit interviews: You might be surprised by what you learn

By Lynne Curry bio

“Good riddance” the supervisor mutters the day his employee leaves.  As the practice manager, however, you have doubts. “Kate” is the third employee who’s resigned from your practice in the last eighteen months. All three worked for “Jim.”

If you want to learn the truth, you need to talk to these employees who’ve chosen to leave – before they carry away the answers you need.

Here’s how.

Let each resigning employee know you’d consider it a gift to the employee’s coworkers and you to learn his or her thoughts about working in your organization.  If the employee worries about potential retribution, find out why and offer to hold the information you learn confidential. You can also allay any fears the employees may have by offering to provide reference letters before conducting the interview.

Start your interviews with safe questions that get the dialog flowing easily, such as “What was it that initially attracted you to the job you are now leaving?” and “What did you like the best about your job or working here?”

Then, ask questions more likely to get at what you need to know, such as “What was the most challenging or difficult thing about working here?” “When did you first decide to leave?” or “What was the turning point of your wanting to move on to another job?”  “How would you rate the morale in the office?” “Have there been recent positive changes?” “What are some recent negative changes?” “If you could change anything here, what would you change?”

You can explore specific areas with questions such as, “What can you tell me about the effectiveness of communications here?” and “What could have made communications better?” “How did you feel about the quality of supervision you received?” “Were your talents well utilized?”

Conclude your interview with two questions that generally lead to valuable surprises, such as “What qualities will the next employee coming into your position need to have to be successful” and “What should I have been wise enough to ask but haven’t?”

Ready to conduct your first exit interview? You might be surprised by what you learn.










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