How to head off unwanted voluntary attrition and what to do when it happens.

Exit Interview Form Icon - unwanted voluntary attritionWhen an employee departs voluntarily it is almost always unanticipated and unwanted. Too often, though, leaders rationalize that employees who leave voluntarily were marginal and will not be missed.

To keep the best on board, and to head off after-the-fact rationalizations, ask managers now to identify employees they would least like to lose. Go on to also ask what is being done to keep each and every one of them engaged and on track to success in the organization. Follow up to make sure what needs to be done is actually done.

When any employee leaves of their own choosing, assign a senior person with no stake in the case to speak with the departed. Use the survey questions in the form linked to the above graphic to draw out what happened, why s/he has decided to leave, and to be sure whatever needs to be unearthed and learned is brought to light.

It takes patience, experience, and determination to get to the truth in each case and it is worth the trouble to find out what needs to be done to keep valuable employees in the fold.

The Exit Interview questions are a guide and must not be a perfunctory exercise. The objective is to get to truth and understanding. The interviewer:

  • Works to create a safe environment for full disclosure.
  • Promises no ill will come from what is shared.
  • Goes well past recording answers to scripted questions.

The art is to:

  • Open a channel of trusted communication.
  • Seek, find, and unfold opportunities to tap into what really happened.
  • Ascertain what needs to be learned.

After the interview, write-up and distribute notes promptly. Compare with other recent cases to look for patterns, disturbing or otherwise, to bring to the forefront what needs attention by the leader and/or the top team.

This is the chance to find out if there is a pattern of bad behavior by a supervisor, a hostile work environment emerging, or if feelings of being marginalized or put upon are being harbored by many. While these truth may be lurking it takes careful planning, thoughtful execution, and diligence to coax them out and strong leadership to disclose and deal with them.

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A simple way to give employees feedback while also showing they are known and appreciated.

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