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Exit interviews: capture the stories; honor the legacies

November 26th, 2009 Kevin No comments

80 percent. That is the oft-quoted percentage of knowledge that walks out the door when folks leave a job. What are we doing about that? Does it make sense to let it just evaporate away like that? Heck no! Here’s what Knowledge Advocate does about it for our clients:

1) before the interview we get to know the person’s area of expertise –  this is the territory, contours, and boundaries of what he or she knows and our prework prepares us to explore it;

2) we carefully read and review the legacy of the person’s body of work – we collect the documents and other work-product the expert put together during his or her work and prepare it to share it during our interview– these things trigger great memories and ensure stuff that needs saying gets said;

3) we acknowledge that experts have a hard time explaining the every day stuff they do – we are all expert at something and know those routine patterns and habits are hard to explain; as a result, we accept the challenge involved with uncovering and revealing hard-to-explain know-how so we can connect how important it is to the company’s bottom line;

4) we prepare a strategy for the interview specially tailored to the expert — our strategy involves hunches and our skilled, highly trained knowledge instinct– we do not use an outline of standard questions; that’s because we know people are organic and the last thing they want to hear is a set of standard questions, instead they want to hear questions tailored to their special circumstances and that honor the experts they truly have become;

5) our well-crafted tactics honor the person, respect his or her details, and simplify meaning — we connect and link what is said with the things we sense matter most for those who will inherit the person’s legacy; whenever we ask questions there is always a future audience on our mind and we work as if they were in the room with us to ensure that what we capture is easy to understand later;

6) we bundle what we hear into stories that are easy to understand and easy to act upon — during the interview and after it we capture the spirit of what we hear in narratives that explain how, why, when, where, and for whom the person acted with his or her expertise– the power of great exit interviews comes from the stories that the departing person is able to leave behind;

7) finally, we get feedback to clarify that we captured the right stuff — people do not always get to say on the spot what they mean and intend; to absolutely confirm we got it right we interact with the expert after the interview and confirm that what was said makes sense– this step let’s us confirm who will benefit most from what the expert talked about and how to best maximize its value.

We know our attention to details, respect for the person’s expertise, and extreme skill at asking flowing questions rather than static/formulatic questions makes all the difference in our exit interviews. With our top notch questioning method, we ensure that our clients hold onto the stuff that matters most, those smart thoughts that drive market excellence and corporate advantage.

Categories: Consulting, Questioning Tags: