Dan Waldschmidt

by Dan Waldschmidt

October 3, 2012

The Big Mistake Leaders Make Reading Exit Interviews.

Nothing good comes from an exit interview. If you are a leader, reading the snotty feedback of disgruntled employees you’ve fired (or let leave on their own) is distracting and counter-productive.

You won’t learn anything you don’t already know right now.

And whining, cranky under-achievers are hardly the best source for the bold strategies you need to scale your business in a turbulent marketplace.  You won’t make important changes because you are nagged.

If that were the case, and the changes were important, you would have already made them.

So stop listening to HR.  Shut down the exit interview process.  It’s a mental death trap.

Angry departing employees don’t put aside their frustrations and calmly share their perspective on your growth potential.  They lash out.  They’re petty.  They’re acidic and biting and cheap.

You aren’t likely to change either.

If you were an arrogant, un-listening leader before reading the exit interview, you aren’t going to have a “come to Jesus” experience reading the dark satire of an employee no longer at your company.  That’s just silly thinking.

And if you know that you have problems and are working on fixing them (albeit slowing and painfully), you only find yourself more humiliated and discouraged after reading these biting critiques.

Frankly, no one wins in the process.

Not the person being interviewed.  Not you listening in to their answers.

That’s because the time for learning is past.  The time for a better conversation is past.  What went wrong went wrong.  It’s important to learn from your mistakes, but there is no reason to rub poison in your eyes.  Just do it better next time.

  1. Only hire people that you respect enough to listen to their advice — now and sometime in the future.
  2. Share your company’s goals and vision as often as you can with each member of your team.  Pound your story home.
  3. Take regular time to ask your team members what they think the company should be doing.  Ask for “facts” and opinions.
  4. Give team members responsibility for fixing problems and make them accountable for their results.
  5. Encourage failure.  Discourage excuses.  Talk about each, often.
  6. Fire team members who have negative attitudes or are passive aggressive. Foster candid conversation.

Everybody wins this way.

You’ll solve problems before they turn into disasters and you’ll spot troublemakers before they disrupt your business growth.

The worst time to read advice is right after a “blow-up” or a break-up”.  Don’t make the mistake ofgetting your business ideas from the sour tones of unhappy ex-employees.

Focus on the conversation each day.  Talk through challenges.  Inspire leadership.

Greatness will follow.

About the author

Dan Waldschmidt

Dan Waldschmidt doesn’t just talk about leveling up. He’s obsessed with it. He's set records as an ultra-runner and been the personal strategist for the leading business leaders of our time. He wrote a book, called EDGY Conversations that accidentally became a worldwide bestseller and continues to share his insights from the stage as a keynote speaker and on the blogs and podcasts you will find here. Most days, you'll find Dan heads-down, working on breakthrough strategies for his clients at EDGY Inc, a highly-focused, invite-only, business strategy execution company based out of Silicon Valley.