I recently had an exit interview with a departing executive from one of our startups. If an executive is fired from their role, such interviews may not be that useful because the employee may have a lot of anger as a result of their involuntary departure. This may bias their communications about what’s working and what isn’t working at the company to the point that these communications aren’t useful.
However, when an employee leaves voluntarily, they don’t carry this anger. As a result, taking the time to understand the reasons for their departure can serve as a valuable source of information for the company to identify what it’s doing well and areas for improvement. An employee may feel uncomfortable sharing this information while they’re still working at the company because they still have skin in the game. However, after they’ve left, there are no potential repercussions from sharing. This makes them much more likely to openly do so.
This was certainly the case during our talk. I learned a lot of valuable information about the inner workings of the company. Although these views represent the perspective of a single person, the lack of bias in their communication relative to the views of existing employees and involuntary leavers makes them very valuable. I strongly recommend that company executives and investors perform exit interviews with voluntary leavers, and debate their findings to improve the performance of their business.