Why is he leaving?

By Sue Bryan

“Why is he leaving?”  I asked a small and what would seem insignificant question, possibly even quite nosey.  All sorts of reasons were thrown back at me, but nothing truly satisfied my need to know exactly what was motivating this chap to leave.  The truth is, the business is struggling to retain staff.  So, I asked the second most important question of the day.  “Please can I do an exit interview with him?” 

It is enormously valuable to ask the staff member themselves, why they are leaving.  It does help to be the third party in the situation, people sometimes feel more comfortable opening up to someone not directly managing them.  Fundamentally you need honesty.  Openness, so you can find out how things can be done better.  When someone has decided to leave a business, they’ve gone to lengths to find another job, they have reached the end of the road.  This is not about trying to retain them.  It is purely to find out what made them want to leave, and whether this is something you can improve on in the future, to retain staff.  Whilst you have them in conversation, find out what they really enjoyed about the job too.  Take the opportunity to celebrate what you’re doing well, as well as identify where change is needed.  Finally, take time to thank your employee for their contribution to your business, however good or bad their time with you was; this is your opportunity to create a lasting impression on someone who may be an advocate for your business in future.   Tease out the action points from the interview and develop a plan to implement change.  Take the time to talk; take the chance to change. 

The employee stayed with the business.  He felt he had been listened to, and his concerns had been taken into consideration.  There is now an ongoing implementation plan of change on the farm.  It doesn’t take a day, a week, or a year to complete this.  Ongoing dialogue and action are the route to success.