Exit Interviews! Why Not Have ‘Stay’ Interviews Instead?
Updated: Oct 9, 2020
Most employers take exit interviews very seriously. People are usually candid and talk their heart out to share those beautiful nuggets of insights that the HR is ready to lap up, continuously scribbling notes or fervently typing on their laptops. So often have we heard people say, “I am just waiting for my exit interview, I’ll speak of things exactly as they are and in what bad shape we are in.” Why their boss sucks, how they’re overloaded with work, how they feel directionless these days, why they were unhappy with their pay raise or how disappointed they were when the company discontinued their favourite coffee vending machine!
What I fail to understand is why would one take the pain of first scouting for a job, giving a bunch of interviews, finally managing another job offer and then reach that elusive exit interview table to finally blurt out what’s not working out for them? Worth it probably, short lived and a little too late. Reminds me of Daenyrys Targaryen's tenacity to stamp her authority on the Iron Throne riding on Drogon (ego - I will teach them a lesson), Rhaegal (fear - what happens is I tell them I am disengaged) & Viserion (despair - it’s no use telling them, nothing will change).
All it takes is a little faith and courage to speak up when things aren’t going as planned and one starts feeling disengaged. Yes, the organization might not have a solution to all your woes but will surely put their best foot forward, especially, if you are a proven asset to the organization. From an organization’s perspective it’s important to read these early warning signs and act upon them.
What is required is an open and accommodating culture that encourages candour. When people know that they would not be ‘prosecuted’ for asking questions, admitting disengagement or drop in personal motivation. Also, past feedback, wherever justified needs to be acted upon. Employees also need the maturity and confidence to openly discuss issues and seek a possible resolution. Sometimes there’s a common issue that plagues many teams whereas most of the times there are individual-specific concerns that needs individual redressal. I personally don’t see the requirement of another HR-branded initiative that formally asks individuals to do so at a preset frequency during the year. Absolutely not. If the HR has high credibility and has helped build an organizational culture of trust & fairness is what will automatically result in ‘Stay Interviews’. The sole focus of these discussions should be to addresses a single problem statement for each individual - “What’s pulling you back to reach peak performance?”
Employees don’t need a job offer as a shield to open-up and highlight things that aren’t going right for them. Instead, there should be proactive discussions around what mars your talent pool and immediately address performance derailers as soon as they crop up. The individual and the management are equal parties and HR leaders need to facilitate build this culture that encourages an open, non-threatening, developmental dialogue.