A Graceful Exit Interview

As more employees leave their jobs, employers face increasing opportunities for an exit interview. These conversations provide a chance to really understand what motivates employees to stay, or leave.  

Before the conversation begins, be clear about the amount of time set aside for it and be sure to check in about five minutes or ten minutes before the set end time to clarify when you will wrap up the conversation.  

Here are a few tips for both exiters and employers to create a more constructive exit interview experience:

1. Both ~Enter the interview with a clear intention.  Whether you are the exiter or the exiting interviewer, know your positive intention for this conversation.  As the exiter, it helps if you come from a place of clarity. Perhaps, the intention may be: I want to give clear, constructive feedback to help the organization go forward.  As the human resources director, your intention might be: I want to listen and openly understand the employees’ experience to help this company be better (or reduce turnover).  

2. Exiter ~ Offer clear and neutral feedback. State your experience clearly and stick to the facts. Although a little dig or finger pointing might feel good in the moment, it does not help you or the conversation. If you have specific ideas on what might help company morale, productivity, or another area of job performance, offer it in a clear and neutral manner. For example: “When I saw or heard… (state facts of your experience) I noticed my morale decrease. It might be helpful if… (offer a specific idea that you think would help)  or “When I saw or heard …., I did not feel supported/respected/valued, I really needed…., and to me that looks like… 

3. Employer ~ Ask with curiosity and hold space to understand. Prepare your questions in advance, understand your motivation for asking, and allow any answer.  While you are not responsible for how the exiting employee feels; you represent the business as the listener. You may share understanding on behalf of the company.  Whether or not you find what the employee says to be true, this person is sharing their true experience. Reflect what you hear to make sure you understand. If you seek clarification, ask questions with a sincere desire to learn. After the interview, review what you learned and note an thoughts the organization might want to take a look at later.  

4. Both ~ Treat each other with dignity and respect. You are two humans breathing in the same space (or on the same video call) at this moment in time.  While your paths may never cross again, you will both feel better about yourselves, each other, and the situation if you show up with clarity and compassion.  Of course, one day you may find yourselves standing side by side or sitting across from each other in very different roles. Based upon how you conduct yourself in this conversation, what would you like the memory of you to be? 

5. Both ~ Thank each other for sharing time.  You each gave time and energy to this conversation, and time and energy to this business or organization. Time is the most valuable thing any of us have. Showing appreciation goes a long way in any situation. 

Are you ready for a graceful exit interview? If you need help preparing for this, or any, conversation, sign up for coaching or contact Bruckner Mediation to schedule a training.  

Sherry Ann Bruckner

Sherry Ann Bruckner

Sherry Ann Bruckner, JD, enjoys helping you bridge the gap from where you are to where you wish to be. An attorney, mediator, coach, speaker, and trainer, she strongly believes in the transformational power of clarity, compassion, curiosity, and cribbage.

Sherry Ann invites and encourages you to consider your own level of peace. Inner peace creates outer peace and personal peace leads to world peace. You may find her enjoying a game or hiking a state park. Sherry Ann lives near Alexandria, Minnesota. Visit brucknermediation.com/services to learn more or give her a call at (320) 808-3212.
Sherry Ann Bruckner

Be gentle with you. Be gentle with all. Be the peace.