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Having the Conversation


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Once you have your plan, it’s time to put it into action. These two events here are the simplest ways to collect knowledge you need from your exiting employees. 


Exit interviews are the most basic events you can conduct with your exiting employees. In an interview, you will meet with a single exiting employee and work to understand their employment experience. If you have prepared your interviewing attitude and approach, and you have put together a plan for questions, you should be more than prepared to conduct it. For a more in-depth look at interviews, this manual has it all


Comfort is key. Your exiting employee should feel comfortable enough to be open about their experiences. What’s comfortable to each person may vary, from the employee’s own office to a meeting room with natural light. Find a place and time that are well away from distractions.


One of the most difficult parts of interviewing is thinking about the interview itself at the same time that you’re listening. It takes practice to do well. Try to keep in mind what you need to get out of the interview – knowledge for your organization to function well after your employee leaves. Check the conversation as it progresses and make sure the interaction is serving that purpose.

Sometimes you’ll find that the conversation is getting away from your plan, and you will need to steer it back. Sometimes you’ll find that the conversation needs to get away from your plan to cover a point that you hadn’t anticipated. Keeping your goal in mind helps you to react to the needs of the moment.


In addition to an exit interview, you may also want to hold a mentoring session. Rather than sharing general thoughts or lessons learned, mentoring sessions can be useful for direct skills transfer. During a session, the exiting employee will sit down with a person in your office who will take temporary or permanent responsibility for a particular task and walk them through it.


When conducting a mentoring session, it is vital to have it take place in the setting in which the person learning the task will perform it, usually that employee’s office. Because memory is tied so deeply to where something was learned, this will help the employee with that responsibility to better recall what they learned in the future.



There can be a lot that goes into a process or task that any existing procedural guides will miss. Experienced employees become accustomed to recognizing common quirks, errors, and issues and resolving them fluidly. By performing the task with another employee an having them narrate their thoughts and decisions while they do them, their experience can be more easily captured for the future.

This is not to say that SOP documents are not important. Be sure to keep the procedure documented. But along with that procedure, include notes from the mentoring session that capture details the SOP might miss, such as rationales for decisions or rules of thumb.

Once you had your conversation, you can put the information together.
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