Deciphering the Exit Interview

In 1939, a team of British mathematicians set about breaking the Enigma code, a system used by the Axis forces to send and receive secret messages. The Enigma machine could be coded in 10 19 ways. Armed with statistical weapons, the team built a system that could significantly reduce the set of possibilities required to decode the Enigma machine. The Enigma code was broken every day, saving millions of lives and swinging the outcome of the war towards the Allies.

It is commonly held that people lie a lot during Exit Interviews. Some people therefore consider exit interviews an enigma! If this were true, it would indeed be a tragedy, for Exit Interviews are an excellent way to determine what is wrong with teams and H.R. policies.

Fortunately, the task of deciphering the Exit Interview isn’t nearly as hard as breaking the Enigma code. Here too, there are statistical techniques that can be used to decode it and make the analysis more reliable, such as:

  1. Granularity of data: To figure out what Exit Interviews are telling us; it is important to have granular data at hand. It is important to know more about the person and their circumstances – their salary, performance, rank, sub-organisation, location, demography, and so on.
  2. Building Hypotheses: It would be hard to make sense of data, if you don’t know what you’re looking for.
  3. Correlation: By correlating data against different parameters (salary, performance, sub-organisation, and others), it is possible to test the hypotheses you built. For instance, if a lot of leavers complained about lack of growth in the organisation, it is important to know how such a complaint varies by performance, salary, team, or even location.
  4. Sub-questions: It isn’t enough to just say that one is leaving due to ‘lack of career growth’. The causes of stagnation in growth will need to be examined. These ought to be the sub-questions, that your leavers need to answer.

If you are struggling to interpret Exit Interviews, remember: a data-driven approach, coupled with the right statistical methods can lead you to the truth. At IDfy, we have a lot of experience making Exit Interviews work for you. If you need assistance, be sure to reach out to us!

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