10/15/16 By Jennifer Brown

how-to-handle-a-negative-exit-interviewWhen an employee gives a glowing account of her experience with a company during an exit interview, the feedback is easy to take. However, when the feedback is not so warm and fuzzy, it can take the person conducting the exit interview off guard – causing him to react in ways that are detrimental to the success of the exit interview. Here are a few things to consider when an employee is sharing the bad (and the ugly) about the organization:

Don’t go on the defensive
Often times, employees maintain a calm, neutral demeanor during an exit interview – not wanting to say anything too harsh to offend or burn a bridge. However, sometimes they just don’t care. They may be so fed up they just want to relieve their frustrations. Allow the employee to share his feelings without going on the defensive. Do not agree or disagree with what the employee says. Simply acknowledge their feelings and at the end thank them for being honest.

Don’t make excuses
That’s just the way that manager is. Do you think you might be overreacting? Are you sure that happened? Comments like these are a sure fire way to either enrage the employee or cause them to shut down. The purpose of an exit interview is to gather as much information as you can to help improve the workplace. It is not your place to offer an opinion, condemn a behavior, or take a side. If the employee raises a concern related to harassment, remind them that all reports of that nature are taken seriously. If the situation needs to be escalated for further investigation, ensure the employee the information will be passed on accordingly and will only be shared with those on a need to know basis.

Have someone to back you up
With the ease of social media today, disgruntled employees can easily take to Twitter, Facebook, or a plethora of other social media sites to spew their frustrations to the world. The last thing you want is something you said during an exit interview to make its way into their rant. The pressure is immense to be prepared for anything. Having a third person in the room during an exit interview helps back up what was said and by whom.

Unfortunately, some organizations and managers shy away from exit interviews out of fear that it might shed light on a problem. Do not let fear keep you from gathering this invaluable information from your departing employee. Prepare and go in with a neutral, sympathetic ear ready to listen and gather feedback for the good of your company.

Need help with your exit interview process? Email us or give us a call at 703-587-5615. We assist our clients every day tackle challenging issues head on. We can do the same for you.


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