Jul 23, 2012

3 Ways to Use Exit Interview Data to Your Advantage

If at some point in your career you resigned from an organization, then chances are you sat through an exit interview with Human Resources (HR).  The exit interview was your opportunity to tie up loose ends regarding COBRA, your final paycheck, pay for unused vacation days, returning company property,  etc.  It was also your opportunity to provide HR with valuable information about your experience as an employee.  So, now that you are a manager, how can this type of information benefit you?  

If there is high "regrettable" turnover in your department (meaning you are losing your top performers or high potentials), you can be proactive and ask HR to analyze the exit interview data.  While HR will not tell you who said what, they will identify recurring themes and patterns that have contributed to the turnover in your department.  This information can help you to:
  • Redesign work flows. Your staff are the best people to identify workflow inefficiencies, flaws and glitches.  Gone unchecked, this causes frustration.  Use the data to find out what processes and work flows need to be redesigned, and get your staff involved.  
  • Develop and refine your leadership skills. While some employees use exit interviews as an opportunity to trash their manager, others give constructive feedback.  If you focus on the message, and not trying to figure out the person who said it, you will find that feedback is a gift.  You can learn how your leadership skills are perceived (i.e. management style, effective communication, if you over commit the team,  how well you support your team, level of transparency, addressing poor performance etc.).   You can then incorporate these areas into your professional development plan and work with a coach to ensure your success.  
  • Improve employee satisfaction.  Many organizations strive to improve employee satisfaction.  However, success starts with each manager.  From the exit interview data you can learn how to bridge the gaps in employee satisfaction by identifying their needs, creating development plans, celebrating milestones and successes, using the organization's policies to meet their needs, and improving productivity. 
Exit interview data helps Human Resources understand the reasons for turnover, identify problem areas, and improve benefit programs in order to increase retention.  You can do your part by using the data to increase employee satisfaction and reduce turnover in your department.  Be proactive.  Ask HR for the data.  


  1. I love the proactive approach taught in this post. If more companies would listen to this type of advice, they would probably never even have to do such an interview with their top performers.

  2. I agree Wayne. Top performers have great input. Unfortunately, it's not heard until they are out the door.


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