As we continue through the holiday season, many people are also preparing their goals for 2012. Whether we like it or not, some of our staff members' goals may include moving to a different department or organisation. It is always important for us to have a clear plan for leading our people. But what is sometimes overlooked is what to learn when people do leave your organisation.
A recent article from the Globe and Mail's excellent small business section <http://www.theglobeandmail.com/report-on-business/small-business/sb-managing/leadership/lots-to-learn-from-an-employee-on-the-way-out/article2260262/> demonstrates the importance of a well-designed exit process to learn lessons from losing a member of your group. Since most studies show the cost of employee turnover ranging from three to six times that of an employee's salary, it benefits our organisations to learn why someone would deem another opportunity more desirable. While we all realise some people are simply not good fits for a given company, understand more specific reasons for the departure may provide important insights to your company.
I did not have an exit interview at the last two companies I left. The first company simply did not find the time to talk with me, even though I offered the chance to share my thoughts. The second company had no human resources department and, quite frankly, did not place a high value on any employee input. In both cases, the companies lost a valuable opportunity to learn what they were doing well, and what could be improved.
Departing employees should be encouraged to speak openly about their experience. An exit interview is never a comfortable experience, but you are looking for ways to run your company better. Traditional company surveys generate information in a group dynamic, but a personal interview will give your organisation a chance to ask follow-up questions and probe for more information. Be open to the feedback and encourage the departing employee to share as much as possible. After all, their lessons may help you keep the next employee considering a career change.
Our workforce is very mobile and ambitious. Many advancement opportunities will occur outside of your company, and the best you can do is gather the intelligence you need to keep your current employees happy and motivated.
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