By David Lewis, president and CEO, OperationsInc
You have what looks to be a great company. You're growing. You have a cool product or service. You are well positioned for the future. All these great attributes, and yet you have one major problem--good people are resigning from your firm every month.
At first you assumed it was just bad luck. As more people resigned, you moved on to the idea that it was about your compensation or that perhaps the competition is heating up. Now you have lost another good employee, and you are starting to wonder how to stop the bleeding. What should you do?
The answer starts with a simple exercise: the exit interview.
To hire people, we interview them to determine how they might fit our need to hire. In exit interviewing, we interview employees who have resigned to find out why they are leaving. So, obviously, we ask them why they chose to resign, as well as several other questions, such as:
- How much of a factor in your decision was your manager or his or her leadership style?
- Did our style/level of communication with employees affect your decision?
- Was your compensation package or growth potential a factor?
We ask those kinds of questions to, among other things, identify a pattern that may help us prevent other talented employees from resigning. To get there more easily, consider taking a more creative approach to questioning--for example, by asking:
- If you could get into a time machine with me and go back six months ago, at which time you could make changes to the workplace that would have eliminated the chance of you resigning today, what would you have changed?
- If we made you CEO a year ago and today was my day to debrief you on what has changed under your helm, what would I have heard?
If you find exit interviews have not generated honest responses or useful information, the problem may not be the questions but who is asking them. Consider having an outside firm conduct your exit interviews. Ultimately, you want gather as much actionable data as possible. Incorporating a solid exit interview will help you identify systemic problems and stem the flow to the exits.
The question of the month is sponsored by Norwalk HR outsourcing and consulting firm OperationsInc.