Exit Interviews-a little too late?

In HR we know every time someone is walking out the door we are going to politely ask them a set of questions determined by someone else doing a different job probably somewhere else that has been determined as information we need to know, or an Exit Interview. We value your feedback and would like to know where we can improve.
PSYCHE!
If we valued it why do we wait until an exit to get it? We don’t want to wait until the good employee is gone to find out what we could do differently we want to know while they are still with us how we can improve! Why do we not value what they have to say while they are still working, but put so much emphasis on their opinion once they are gone… HELLO? 9 times out of 10 that employee had a complaint somewhere that was not taken seriously by management. Hey, I’ve been there. I lost one of my best employees because I chose to not let her problem be my problem. I decided her problem wasn’t my problem and my boss decided that my employees problem wasn’t her problem either. I knew the second she put her resignation in why she was doing it and immediately started kicking myself. Long story short in her case I knew that she was a good worker and that she was committed to our customers and employees so if she could just tough it out a little longer maybe her concerns would just go away or maybe her desire to take care of our clients would outweigh the importance of her concerns that we were choosing to ignore. I can look back and evaluate that situation so easily now and I keep coming back to the same question… Why when she was resigning were we all the sudden willing to “get rid of her problem” when we weren’t months before when she had pointed the “problem” out? We didnt value all employee feedback and that was/is wrong.
Here is another scenario. Recently chatting with a friend elsewhere she was telling me about a situation she is having at work and this pretty much sums it up:
Management: from now on we will ONLY do B…don’t ever do A again.
Friend: does B
Management: I’m unsure as to why you aren’t doing A, I really can’t trust your work if you didn’t know you should be doing A.
Friend : extreme confusion
[and scene] So the HR in me is throwing questions her way: “Well what did she say when you this?” or “Did you try this” as well as “okay, tell me what your responsibilities were” and “what are your bosses expectations” and so on and so on, the conclusion is her manager has the same problem a lot of managers have, they aren’t good at it. Sort of like Ben’s breakdown of the technical employee made manager (you can read about that here: http://upstarthr.com/management-mistake-from-undercover-boss/) And if you snoop around in the comments you will find that was my problem as well. I was awesome at the job functions, but that didn’t mean I was going to make an awesome manager. The best advice that the man I worked for would’ve ever given me was this sentence right here “Treat your employees like a customer” WHAT!!? That changed my life! What a concept! So I told my friend that while we were discussing her “bitchy boss” and she quickly confirmed that’s the major problem! Her manager is fantastic with clients, but not fantastic with her own employees and my dear friend is going to make sure she lets HR know when they conduct her exit interview what the problem is! But why? Why does it have to be in the exit interview? Why do employees feel like that is when they can be honest about working conditions? Or are they being honest before then and we aren’t taking them seriously? What can we do in our own organizations to truly invite employees in and evaluate issues with those employees so they can see they are being heard and that we are moving towards improvement in the workplace?

 

Side Note/Real Life Management growth-I let that sink in for a  while when the owner told me to treat my employees like a customer and the more I thought about it the more it made sense. My client service is amazing and everyone within a 50 mile radius knows that so why don’t I put that to use internally? I mean, sometimes clients ask for crazy things, or make you mad, or need a lot of attention and what-not and you grin and get through it so you should be able to do the same with your own staff…

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