Sometimes we can't help lose good people - here's how to 'let them go' professionally
Many organisations consider using exit interviews to help them find out why staff are leaving of their own accord, quite apart from managing the redundancy process. They may help in highlighting problem areas within the organisation and in identifying any characteristics that may be common to early leavers. As well as recording classification details about leavers, they should be asked why they are leaving and what they think is good and bad about the firm, for example:
• the job itself • supervision and management • training and career prospects with the organisation • working conditions and amenities • equal opportunities • pay and other terms and conditions of work.
However, it should be kept in mind that workers may not always disclose the real reasons for leaving or their true views about the organisation. To minimise ‘distortion’ it can help to:
• have the interviews carried out by a person other than the immediate line manager – ever considered sub-contracting the removal process? • conduct them away from the normal place of work • explain fully the reason for the interview • explain that the interview is confidential • explain that the reasons for leaving will not affect any future references or offers to work again for the organisation.
Best practice in managing the process might include the following ten tips: 1) Make employees aware – publicising that the company is going to conduct exit interviews is a positive move as it shows that it is a listening organisation.
2) Make it all inclusive – while one might be happy to see some leave, it is unwise to ignore these people. There should be no such thing as ‘wanted’ attrition; either the employer has recruited the wrong person or done something to limit their performance. Leavers should be offered a questionnaire and the interview can be combined with personnel tasks such as handing out the P45 and recovering the laptop, etc.
3) If you want to keep them – act quickly. By their final week, it will be too late to change their mind so conduct an early meeting to see if they can be encouraged to stay. If not, keep the exit interview separate.
4) Choose a neutral – not the line manager, they may have been the problem! In order to talk openly, the employee must feel that they have the confidence of the interviewer.
5) Agree some rules – make it clear that the interview is confidential and what will happen to feedback given.
6) Apply a structure – ensure that you are able to learn about your recruitment process, career development, performance measurement and succession planning approaches in the exit interview. This information can be used to improve your processes and the perceptions people have of the organisation.
7) Why are they leaving – are they going to a competitor or client? Is it for more money or – as one engineering firm found – is it because they do not have the right tools to do a professional job?
8) Listen, don’t react – while it may be tempting to get into a slanging match, the exit interview may be used as a way for the leaver to vent their spleen, it is best to stay calm and objective.
9) Act on the information – analyse the data from exit interviews to look for trends but act immediately if a specific issue is raised.
10) Be positive – rather than think of it as an opportunity to give the individual a good talking to, value the feedback on their time with the firm and their reasons for leaving.
More ideas and suggestions can be found on the government’s appointed agency, ACAS site (http://www.acas.org.uk)
Now, while management training might not be top of your organization’s investment aims in 2013 I bet you still aim to get the best out of your people – including managing other people’s departure professionally.
So, a short review of sound management practice might be just what your managers need to gain some pretty practical ideas on not being a ‘Muppet’ when trying to be a manager!