One problem with Exit Interviews is that they treat exiting a company the same old tired way – something the company did caused the person to leave.
We must find the reason! We must rehabilitate or fire the person responsible! What did we do wrong that caused the person to leave? What did the other company do that we didn’t?
I’ve always used an Erma Bombeck strategy when conducting exit interviews; her book, “The Grass Is Always Greener Over The Septic Tank” highlights the technique…
Seriously, my first question in an exit interview is “What is the one best things about having worked here?” Since there’s ALWAYS something, this leads to another and another and pretty soon there’s a list of positive reasons to possibly return down the line. Armed with this awareness, the person leaves with some “positive doubt” about their tenure. Which is a very good thing.
You see, every exit should set up the boomerang return – unless the person truly is someone you don’t want back (even then, unless you’re a dyed-in-the-wool pessimist, you have to believe that everyone can change their negative behaviors).
These positives then set the wheels in motion by which the person more accurately compares the new with the old. It’s really magic.
Alas, emotional intelligence is often forgotten during the trying times of someone leaving a company. Too bad…