Employees are often more candid in an exit interview than at any other time. But exit interviews can be a mix of valuable feedback, frustration and accusations. So managers are liable to get defensive, or to draw incorrect conclusions from hearing only one side of the story.
Fred Wilson therefore thinks the CEO should always do the exit interview, and makes the following suggestions: (1) ascertain the cause of departure beforehand, (2) make the exit interview a conversation about both the good and the bad, and (3) don’t take everything you’re told as gospel.
- Whenever I’ve also sent an email to a departing employee thanking them, wishing them luck and asking them as a favor to reply with their advice to me as CEO, the feedback has been invaluable. It’s less emotional and more considered than feedback from an exit interview. And for me, reading and considering an email is easier than listening well.
- Fred’s statement that “I have learned more doing exit interviews than most other management techniques” highlights the challenge of getting candid feedback before it’s too late. But you can get valuable feedback before it’s too late if you ask the right questions.