Performance Consulting

A Good-bye Well Said

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Key in LockDoesn’t matter how welcome you made them feel on Day 1. Doesn’t matter how good you were to them through the entire stay. At the end of the day, what will matter the most, to you also, is what you did once they decided to say a good-bye to your organization.

Read on.

“Nobody notices you during your notice period,” a friend’s lament on a social networking site set me thinking – not without a hint of sadness. This, because after having spent two years with her in post graduation college, I could vouch for her drive, sincerity and hard work – all of which would have made her a worthy asset. Yet, this marriage between the employee and the organisation comes to an end, ever so brusquely – a practice that may end up harming the organisation much more than it may harm the employee who is bidding adieu.

I’ve seen organisations react in two typical ways when an employee throws in the towel – they would either open up their bags and put on offer every candy they have or enough care is taken to ensure that you’ve been looked through during those last thirty odd days that you spend there. It’s such a waste – not because the organisation is losing out on an employee. It’s a waste ‘cause, more often than not, the organisation fails to make the most of an opportunity to know why. You probably have customers or consumers who stick with your brand for eons – they may also be able to tell you why they stick. But would you ever be able to ask them a question that went like this, “If you were to leave us, what would be the reasons why you’d leave?” Sounds like committing suicide, doesn’t it?! Similarly, the employees who’ve been with you for eons may never be able to tell you what would make them leave. It’s the ones who’ve decided to get up and go that would be able to tell you why. What an organisation does with the answers to all those why’s is another chapter altogether – mile zero is ensuring the answers have been sought. Simply put, there are two reasons why the opinion of this employee, who’s on her way out, may hold water:

  • She has no fear, now. There isn’t the fear of spoiling relationships which may in turn affect the next big opportunity, next big raise, next big promotion that could have come her way (though this fear amongst existing employees also speaks volumes about the task at hand)
  • For her, the romance is over. The charms of a big hike, a fancy designation or the comforts of the comfort zone no longer entice her – it is now down to the brass tacks.

Sure, there are organisations that realize the importance of digging deep even after all attempts to retain have failed. And, hence Exit Interviews are conducted. Yet, the practice itself leaves a lot to be desired – the clinical manner in which it is carried out makes one wonder if it is just one of those rituals that are tick-marked to ensure you get nominated in those ‘great, fantastic, wonderful place to work’ surveys. I have my reasons to believe why most organisations act against their own interests:

  • Eliminating the human element: Way too much emphasis is laid on ensuring a filled-in, automated exit interview form. Large numbers is one reason why automated forms may work well for you. However, if you had to interview a candidate for any position in your organisation, would you rely on data she filled in into a form? Why not? Your exit interview form may, at best, give you the tip of the iceberg.
  • Giving in to the mad rush for Objectivity: In a bid to make report generation easy, most exit surveys are filled with questions such as, ‘what are your top three reasons for quitting,’ or ‘mark the following in order of your most favourite aspects to the least favourite aspects of working here.’ Let’s say you run a report and figure out that the top reason why the last fifty employees left you was a non-conducive work culture. Where is that information going to take you? Would you know how those employees defined work culture? Taking a step further back, what if these employees, too, tick-marked a ritual – filled-in the form for the sake of it? Do you have direct questions in there? Do you have scope for subjectivity? How about asking them what you could have done to keep them from going? How about asking them why they would or wouldn’t recommend your organisation to their friends and family? How about asking them, if this were their own organisation, what would they change about it? Of course, don’t even bother if no one is going to go through these answers – you’re better off with objectivity.
  • Not giving yourself the benefit of doubt: Sure, there could have been employees who left you ‘cause their vision had tunneled, cause they felt the hills far away were bluer. How would you know? Is there a channel of communication that could gauge their feedback after they have moved on? How about an optional exit survey form, one that is sent in a month later? The inputs you receive here, may just clear out your vision a little more – what’s more, it may even help you re-hire an asset.

It’s a small world, they say. And, today, it’s also a world where an average performer stumbles upon enough and more employment opportunities. However, it’s the organisations that are treading a relatively tough terrain – attracting and retaining talent is a constant challenge that most of them are dealing with. When your talent leaves, hear her out – that’s the only way to figure out what you can do to keep the next one from leaving.

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Neeyati is passionate about designing and driving Organization Development initiatives. She has the innate ability to identify opportunities from business situations and construct innovative solutions to cater to clients' needs. She has proven capabilities in Instructional Designing, Content Development, Facilitating Workshops, Need Identification and Facilitator Capability Building through conducting TTTs and On-the-job Coaching.


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