Why exit interviews are important
December 5, 2015 4:28 PM   Subscribe

“I received a call from the horrified IT Director (the IT Manager himself had been made redundant straight after me), to ask if I knew why they faced an ISDN bill for over £100,000.”
posted by ErisLordFreedom (67 comments total) 31 users marked this as a favorite
 
MetaFilter: The broadband area
posted by Wolfdog at 4:33 PM on December 5, 2015


The correct answer to that question is that you have a wonderful solution in mind to lower their costs, and you'd be happy to consult with them at what are surely very reasonable rates.
posted by zachlipton at 4:36 PM on December 5, 2015 [84 favorites]


Except in this case, there was no solution--by the time they'd contacted the ex-employee, the company had used up the trial period and were locked into a one-year contract.
posted by ErisLordFreedom at 4:39 PM on December 5, 2015 [1 favorite]


This is precisely why, if you really hate your now-former employer, you should spend your exit interview saying nice things about how perfectly everything is run.
posted by b1tr0t at 4:43 PM on December 5, 2015 [27 favorites]


Do they teach case studies like this at Harvard Business School? No no no, they do not. Bwahhhhhaaaaa
posted by sammyo at 4:43 PM on December 5, 2015 [7 favorites]


This is precisely why, if you really hate your now-former employer, you should spend your exit interview saying nice things about how perfectly everything is run.

I was torn at my most recent exit interview (with an INSANE company that I left just a few months after joining because they were so awful) about whether to be honest or do this. In the end I gave my honest opinion as professionally as I could, because I can't bring myself to be either deceitful enough to let them go on or mean enough to really give them a piece of my mind. I'm just a wimp. But I don't think it mattered - I'm guessing at a company like that, any negative feedback just goes into the circle file anyway.
posted by gloriouslyincandescent at 4:49 PM on December 5, 2015 [9 favorites]


I'm surprised that this didn't end in a very public legal action to demonize the admin as some kind of BOFH super haxxor who screwed up the company with a self-serving dead mans switch, deflecting attention from the incompetence that made it happen in the first place.
posted by dr_dank at 4:52 PM on December 5, 2015 [5 favorites]


a very well known company supplying fantasy wargaming products

ONLY WAR!
posted by Artw at 4:53 PM on December 5, 2015 [26 favorites]


(Nottingham warehouse is a giveaway)
posted by Artw at 4:53 PM on December 5, 2015 [12 favorites]


On my phone, so I can't comment fully, but I'll just say that ISDN still enjoys widespread usage in a few very specific niches.

It's virtually ubiquitous in broadcasting and radio, and ISDN videoconferencing is orders of magnitude more straightforward and interoperable than anything else out there, despite the obvious technological disadvantages that it has.

Oh, and Norway's(?) entire phone system was converted to ISDN for some reason. As a POTS replacement, it had a lot of crazy capabilities that never ended up being used (or useful) in practice.
posted by schmod at 4:57 PM on December 5, 2015 [4 favorites]


Just shows how much fucking money they make. Any other independent company in wargames and RPGs would surely have gone under over this.
posted by howfar at 4:59 PM on December 5, 2015 [10 favorites]


and this is why the price of a box of dwarfs went up ten bucks
and why people stopped buying said dwarfs
and why fantasy battle is now dead
posted by robocop is bleeding at 5:02 PM on December 5, 2015 [15 favorites]


You have no idea how many hours I've sunk into their dumb freemium stompy robot game in the last week...
posted by Artw at 5:07 PM on December 5, 2015 [1 favorite]


You cannot do any good for yourself in an exit interview. If the company wanted to change, they'd have either created an environment where you wanted to stay or they would have listened to the necessary changes and chosen not to sack you. All that you can do in an exit interview is decrease the likelihood that your now former company will give you a positive recommendation a few years from now, or attempt to deny you unemployment. No matter what - say nothing. Resist the urge to be honest. If your opinion mattered, you'd still work there.
posted by Nanukthedog at 5:12 PM on December 5, 2015 [128 favorites]


I was torn at my most recent exit interview (with an INSANE company that I left just a few months after joining because they were so awful) about whether to be honest or do this.
Don't think of it in terms of honesty, think of it in terms of free management consulting. If your exit package is less than a million bucks then let them go hire McKinsey Consulting if they want to know what went wrong.
posted by b1tr0t at 5:16 PM on December 5, 2015 [41 favorites]


"I'm sorry, I'd love to discuss the matter at hand, but I just signed a non-disparagement contract."
posted by el io at 5:19 PM on December 5, 2015 [41 favorites]


This was unexpectedly heartwarming. <3
posted by easter queen at 5:23 PM on December 5, 2015 [6 favorites]


Exit interview? Fuck that. You just told me I'm no longer in your employ. Buh-bye. Rock on with your bad selves.
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 5:44 PM on December 5, 2015 [17 favorites]


At my last exit interview all they wanted to know was if I had left any trap doors or timed problems in the network.

This was because the person I had replaced had done so. So good were they at creating good will in their employees. I had worked too hard for no overtime and no real recognition, every year my team who made everything work in the end was never recognized. They scheduled deployments without lining up resources then wondered why it was a shit show then employed QA who didn't actually test things.

But no, I didn't leave any secret problems in the network.
posted by NiteMayr at 5:52 PM on December 5, 2015 [3 favorites]


Not to this level but I had a company come back to me a couple months after laying me off without out warning and ask why a system that I'd been holding together with duct tape and baling wire for years1 had shit the bed and was now costing them hundreds a day in unfulfilled orders. I had great joy telling them I'd signed a non-compete and couldn't help them and in fact I probably shouldn't have answered the phone call from them.

Next time replace the crappy compression coil when I tell you it needs to be done and don't get rid of the people keeping your critical systems running.

1Well documented with escalating memos and supporting documentation (here's the problem, this is what is going to happen when things go pear shaped, this is what it is going to cost us every day it is pear shaped, here's how we stop things from going pear shaped, here's how much it is going to cost to fix it before it goes pear shaped, here's how much more it is going to cost to fix it once it actually goes pear shaped, etc. etc.). It shouldn't have been a surprise but of course no one was actually paying attention.
posted by Mitheral at 5:56 PM on December 5, 2015 [61 favorites]


Comments on these posts (both here and in the linked articles) are always among my favorites.
posted by nevercalm at 5:58 PM on December 5, 2015 [13 favorites]


Years ago I was working at Intel. I quit and went to Apple. At the exit interview I was asked why I was quitting. I said that I felt typecast and I had no future there doing anything different. Overall, morale there was pretty low. A month later a friend at Intel called me up. Guess what? she said. HR had an employee meeting to discuss the low morale. Me and my complaint was one of the slides in the presentation. So maybe exit interviews can be effective.
posted by njohnson23 at 5:58 PM on December 5, 2015 [21 favorites]


Oh, and Norway's(?) entire phone system was converted to ISDN for some reason. As a POTS replacement, it had a lot of crazy capabilities that never ended up being used (or useful) in practice.

BRI has no practical limit on connection distance being able to put relatively cheap repeaters every 5-5.5km or so. Telenor had rather onerous universal service obligations at the time and Norway is incredibly spread out when you get outside of Oslo so BRI ISDN could be easily and fairly cheaply given to everyone at the same rate, no questions asked. It provided a decent 128kbps service on two pairs and would automatically disconnect and run the data call on a single channel while a phone call came in giving you a relatively permanent connection to the Internet without tying up your phone line continually.

I used to know a Telenor engineer on IRC. I had some very interesting conversations with her (envy at the time as ISDN cost something like $5/hr and this was pre-DSL).
posted by Talez at 6:01 PM on December 5, 2015 [13 favorites]


The last exit interview I had, they read some of the stuff that I hadn't yet submitted in a webform from SurveyMonkey.

Since I didn't mind burning those bridges (the new manager was a horrible misogynist, pervert, etc), I copped to rightly comparing their employee retention negatively against Ebola Zaire mortality rates.

That manager is still there. Unsurprisingly, their retention rate is even worse.
posted by qcubed at 6:13 PM on December 5, 2015 [17 favorites]


After 18 months of unemployment, I jumped at the chance to work as system admin for a small manufacturing/distribution company. The hardware and software were antiquated and the system in general held together by chewing gum and baling wire, but everything worked. My pay was ridiculously low, but I was able to make a few improvements and learn some new stuff, and it was no good trying to convince management to spend money on anything. In attempting to convince them, though, I documented the system in detail and predicted the things that could go wrong.

After a year I was done with the stress of keeping everything going with the threat of total system disaster hanging over my head if anything broke. I found a new job and gave my notice. They kept me on for two weeks, but even if they'd let me go, they had a reasonably snapshot of what the system was doing.

I have no idea what happened after I left, except that they're still in business.
posted by lhauser at 6:33 PM on December 5, 2015 [2 favorites]


I was working for a major retail establishment and my morale was pretty low after having been strung along with offers for better positions while holding my team together since our Lead and Manager could not successfully make the team function. It was devastating when I announced I was leaving, and my manager, once he came to terms with it, asked what he could do to keep other people like me from leaving. My answer drained the color from his face:

"Well, what are you doing to make people like me want to stay?"
posted by sleeping bear at 6:46 PM on December 5, 2015 [46 favorites]


Even if they were stuck in a contract for the ISDN line itself, they were not stuck with a £100,000/mo international long distance bill. The difference is only 3 orders of magnitude. Not that I feel bad for them, mind you, that is precisely what happens when you send all your institutional knowledge out to pound the pavement.
posted by wierdo at 6:46 PM on December 5, 2015 [2 favorites]


I devoted an exit interview to detailing the faults of a manager whose department I had to deal with several times a week because I despised the way he treated his people. I didn't bother to pretend to be objective -- within ten minutes after it had happened six months or so before, everyone in the company knew he and I had gotten into a shoving match which ended when he, um, bumped the back of his head against a door -- but I heard later that he was demoted the following week, and a few months after that, his hand-picked parts supervisor was arrested for selling cocaine out of the company parking lot. As far as I know, he was not implicated.
posted by jamjam at 7:07 PM on December 5, 2015 [2 favorites]


Do we have any HR types here at mefi that can say what the exit interview is even for? Because it seems to me it should work like performance appraisals in reverse. If you've got something to say that's going to be a surprise, you're doing it wrong. And if you've been trying to tell them repeatedly, the exit interview isn't likely to be any different.

Maybe they have a legal function as well? Get it documented "employee said the resignation was voluntary and does not allege any retaliation or discrimination..." etc.?

Ours are mostly administrative, verifying a checklist of necessary things are done. Termination physical, explanation of changes to benefits, government-issued equipment returned, etc.
posted by ctmf at 7:19 PM on December 5, 2015 [5 favorites]


This makes me feel like I should never quit any halfway decent job because oh God there are worse ones.
posted by Monochrome at 7:41 PM on December 5, 2015 [6 favorites]


Years ago I was working at Intel. I quit and went to Apple. At the exit interview I was asked why I was quitting. I said that I felt typecast and I had no future there doing anything different.

That's similar to my experience. I had an interview at AMAT for a process engineering job. During the interview I asked about advancement and opportunities to gain exposure to different parts of the company, or to learn new techniques and skills. I was told "we generally discourage that." Fortunately I had another offer, but I wouldn't have accepted that position if it was my only offer.
posted by Existential Dread at 7:43 PM on December 5, 2015 [3 favorites]


Do we have any HR types here at mefi that can say what the exit interview is even for?

An actual HR type will tell you that, from their perspective, the interview is actually just a meeting to explain how benefits will terminate, when the last paycheck will be delivered, collect a keycard, etc. Tidying up, in other words. HR doesn't deal with, say, shutting down your network access.
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 7:55 PM on December 5, 2015 [3 favorites]


This makes me feel like I should never quit any halfway decent job because oh God there are worse ones.

Amen, brother!

I had a great one go shitty with a change of management following an acquisition, so even that's not a hard and fast rule, but these comments are truly the antidote to "The grass is always greener"
posted by mikelieman at 8:05 PM on December 5, 2015 [1 favorite]


Artw: "You have no idea how many hours I've sunk into their dumb freemium stompy robot game in the last week..."

Citation needed?
posted by Samizdata at 8:06 PM on December 5, 2015 [1 favorite]


NiteMayr: "At my last exit interview all they wanted to know was if I had left any trap doors or timed problems in the network.

This was because the person I had replaced had done so. So good were they at creating good will in their employees. I had worked too hard for no overtime and no real recognition, every year my team who made everything work in the end was never recognized. They scheduled deployments without lining up resources then wondered why it was a shit show then employed QA who didn't actually test things.

But no, I didn't leave any secret problems in the network.
"

I went through the same thing at a previous job. I couldn't even get the stuff from my office for two weeks. Then they let the next guy get "some files off the server" and he ends up deleting 1.5 of the 3 volumes on the server.

Lucky for them the previous admin had set up a rock solid backup protocol.
posted by Samizdata at 8:07 PM on December 5, 2015 [4 favorites]


Quite a few years ago I left a data entry manager job at one state agency for a better job elsewhere. In the weeks leading up to my last day (in fact I stayed a week later just to finish it) I worked on a project I was rather proud of at the time.

The main responsibility of our department was to compile a rather byzantine quarterly report of data extracted from a massive generic report from our data center (printed on a 4-inch stack of green-bar 11x17 computer paper; the data we used was maybe 10% of that whole report, but this was in the days when uttering the words "custom report" - or "conserving paper", for that matter - would just get you laughed at). Every quarter, creating this report took me a solid two weeks of pulling the data I needed from the report, hand-calculating a dozen or so tables, manually typing the results into a preformatted word-processing document using our department's massive old IBM DisplayWriter (twin 8-inch floppy drives, woo!), and printing out a bunch of copies for the agency's bigwigs.

My project was creating an automated spreadsheet using Lotus 1-2-3 on our spiffy brand-new IBM PC-XT. There was an area for data input and a whole bunch of tables with the calculations built-in (with a whole bunch of extra wrangling to avoid divide-by-null results, since not every field was filled for every report). As a result, what had been taking two torturous weeks turned into a half-hour of marking up the report and handing it to a data-entry operator, who took an hour or so to enter the data in the spreadsheet then simply press Ctrl-P to print everything up, hey presto, done! As I said, I was quite proud of my creation.

When I left, I carefully explained to my replacement all about what the spreadsheet did and how it worked. Nevertheless a few weeks later I got a call from that person, who told me they had "cleaned up a bunch of unneeded formulas" (i.e. all that wrangling I did to avoid divide-by-null errors), and now it wouldn't print out right. They had lost the backup, and they asked me to come back and fix it...I just laughed and hung up the phone.
posted by Greg_Ace at 8:08 PM on December 5, 2015 [32 favorites]


Cool Papa Bell: "Do we have any HR types here at mefi that can say what the exit interview is even for?

An actual HR type will tell you that, from their perspective, the interview is actually just a meeting to explain how benefits will terminate, when the last paycheck will be delivered, collect a keycard, etc. Tidying up, in other words. HR doesn't deal with, say, shutting down your network access.
"

Oh, and said company never asked me about the dialin remote access to my desktop which they left active for weeks and weeks afterwards. (I only would dial in to see if it was still working.)
posted by Samizdata at 8:10 PM on December 5, 2015 [2 favorites]


maybe i'm too privileged, but some of us leave orgs not because we've been fired or are desperately unhappy, but because opportunities knock from somewhere else. exit interviews give the org the chance to know how many folks are unhappy and how many are leaving because your manager did their job so well they've mentored you on to something better. maybe more true for the public sector/academic context? of course they *can* be hell, but for example, the career path in one museum may just not go that far and eventually you need to grow/go somewhere else. it's also a chance to ensure that hr knows that you *aren't* leaving with a grievance and to reward your manager for doing a great job. (true story - i've had some fantastic managers)
posted by mollymillions at 8:34 PM on December 5, 2015 [5 favorites]


Samizdata: Citation needed?

I'm guessing Freeblade, which was part of Tim Cook's talking points when the iPad Pro got introduced.
posted by hanov3r at 8:38 PM on December 5, 2015 [1 favorite]


a 4-inch stack of green-bar 11x17 computer paper

Woo-hoo!

( I feel the 11x17 is redundant given the usage of green-bar, myself, but that's personal preference )
posted by mikelieman at 8:52 PM on December 5, 2015 [2 favorites]


Small company lazy IT wouldn't give me a network service account, so I put all the critical services I built under my personal account.

"Thank you for working here. We've locked out your account and now, here's your paperwork..."
posted by underflow at 9:05 PM on December 5, 2015 [9 favorites]


Do we have any HR types here at mefi that can say what the exit interview is even for?

My last exit interview was pretty much "here's your severance bonus pay, contingent on signing this contract that says you won't sue us, and here's how to sign up for COBRA" (hah!) "and please drop your keys off in the basket by the door when you leave." (Not literally... but I was the last person working in the office each day, so I had a lot of unsupervised time.)

(I also had access to my email account for about a year after the job was over, and I believe I can still sign into the clients' web depositories; those logins and passwords were for the whole department.)

For an employee leaving on good terms, the exit interview gives them a chance to find out which parts are working well, and which could be tweaked to keep people. For one leaving on poor terms, it gives a chance to say both "um, do you have any company assets?" and "what projects are you currently in the middle of?"

Of course, a person leaving on very poor terms might just refuse to cooperate with any of that. But it's really stupid for companies to not even give the employees a chance to talk to their managers/coworkers to say, "hey Pat, someone from the Kirono account is going to call next Monday, so make sure there's an update ready or they've threatened to cancel."
posted by ErisLordFreedom at 9:09 PM on December 5, 2015 [4 favorites]


hanov3r: "Samizdata: Citation needed?

I'm guessing Freeblade, which was part of Tim Cook's talking points when the iPad Pro got introduced.
"

Crap. Another iApp. Cheers nonetheless. Big 40K fan here.
posted by Samizdata at 9:56 PM on December 5, 2015


I feel the 11x17 is redundant given the usage of green-bar, myself

Yeah, maybe so. I was just trying to paint a vivid picture of the sheer size of the thing, for younger folks who might not be familiar with such behemoths of a bygone age.
posted by Greg_Ace at 9:57 PM on December 5, 2015 [3 favorites]


The exit interview is to give the terminated employee thr feeling someone has listened to them. It is sometimes used by better run companies to fix things that lead to employees leaving. But there's no guarantee of this.
posted by zippy at 10:20 PM on December 5, 2015 [2 favorites]


Green bar is only 15" wide including the feed holes.
posted by Mitheral at 10:59 PM on December 5, 2015 [3 favorites]


Samizdata. - be warned, though there's pretty much no point at which you need to pay money for anything there are an awful lot of bits where you need to watch an ad to continue - usually for other fermium games.
posted by Artw at 11:31 PM on December 5, 2015


Artw: "Samizdata. - be warned, though there's pretty much no point at which you need to pay money for anything there are an awful lot of bits where you need to watch an ad to continue - usually for other fermium games."

Well, I would take your advice, but I have no iDevice.

Although, that game being made from a synthetic actinide, shouldn't you be worried?
posted by Samizdata at 11:42 PM on December 5, 2015 [3 favorites]


Do we have any HR types here at mefi that can say what the exit interview is even for?

As others have noted, there's a bunch of practical stuff like signing forms, returning keys, etc. that has to take place.

As to the interview part itself, in my time in HR, there were enough highly placed true believers in HR and upper management that had been taught in school that exit interviews were useful and something that were to be done and just about everyone else shrugged and decided the effort of fighting the idea was worse than going through the song and dance.

From a practical perspective, asking about issues like discrimination or harassment during the exit interview provides the company with some protection against lawsuits by helping safeguard against punitive damages.

Employees can sometimes do some good in them. My last job had a bunch of problems that were caused by decisions made by distant upper management. I have no possibility of working for that upper management again nor are they a reference or anything like that, so I provided the local management with some tools to get more localized control in the exit interview. And from keeping in touch with former coworkers, things did get at least somewhat better.

But I didn't say a single bad thing about anyone that I'll have any future interactions with.
posted by Candleman at 11:42 PM on December 5, 2015 [1 favorite]


The exit interview is there so that you can keep going by telling yourself "Well, that's another one to keep for the exit interview" and mentally composing a long, eloquent, devastating speech which when it comes to it, you can't be bothered to deliver because you already don't care any more.
posted by Segundus at 12:06 AM on December 6, 2015 [37 favorites]


My impression of my exit interview was that the compny was gathering material to protect itself from lawsuits. Which I found a bit weird as there wasn't going to be any lawsuit.
posted by Bee'sWing at 3:52 AM on December 6, 2015 [2 favorites]


Times I Have Witnessed Or Experienced When An Exit Interview Is Inappropriate:

1. When the employee has already left the building in the company of several burly uniformed police officers, while others are bagging up their PC. (W)

2. When the company's just gone spectacularly bankrupt and everyone's milling around the carpark (E)

3. When the employee has left, leaving this note taped to their monitor: "Two things. First, goodbye forever..." (W)

4. When the people who would have been holding the interview are made unexpectedly redundant the day after you, and your boss follows the day after (E)

5. When, the month before being laid off, you've stood up at the meeting where the new owners have just given a presentation on how everything's going to be lovely, and recited a list of previous acquisitions which have gone spectacularly wrong, and asked what's going to be different this time. (W)

(Notes to questions you may have as a result of the above)

1. Several gigs of child pornography, at a time where several gigs of anything was notable.

2. Event made somewhat more memorable by ex-CEO coming over to me and asking whether I'd like to be part of his new operation. I had no job, no money but no intention of following that lead lemming again, so the conversation was short. Don't think that counts as an exit interview.

3. Nobody I know from that time knows where he went, even now.

4. I have seen many botched downsizings that crushed morale and disrupted operations with astonishing efficiency, but never one that seemed capriciously cruel before.

5. When you buy a company full of business journalists, remember: these people are sceptical, communicative and know how to do their research.
posted by Devonian at 6:19 AM on December 6, 2015 [21 favorites]


Really, I've left jobs cheerfully and not so much, and this just makes me smile. Despite management wanting to be about metrics, accuracy, etc., it's incredibly subjective and many managers are not anywhere near as smart as they think, don't listen, and don't have any common sense. Consequences. Just cheers me right up.
posted by theora55 at 7:36 AM on December 6, 2015 [2 favorites]


I only every had one formal exit interview. I mostly pointed out that they were giving me about ten hours of work to do each week and I was bored out of my skull.
posted by octothorpe at 7:47 AM on December 6, 2015


The real failure of knowledge transfer is if the informal laying out of all the shit out over beer doesn't happen.
posted by Artw at 8:11 AM on December 6, 2015 [3 favorites]


I guess it might be worth adding my exit interview story. Okay, it wasn't really an exit interview, just something my boss said after I told him I was quitting. After thinking about it a bit he said "I see what we did wrong. We payed you too much money so you could afford to quit." I had had some concerns that I was making a mistake in quitting and it was good of him to reassure me that I had made the right decision.
posted by benito.strauss at 8:38 AM on December 6, 2015 [34 favorites]


I had an exit interview where I left, somewhat unhappy, for another opportunity. I identified a number of issues that led to my departure--some were issues I had with how things were run, others changes to my role that I didn't care for--and they listened. They didn't change everything or even a lot, but some things I complained about were adjusted.

Later, I was recruited back for a new role. My boss commented that my exit interview was very good: constructive, not vindictive, generous to some people. Of course, I wasn't downsized or anything like that.
posted by synecdoche at 9:55 AM on December 6, 2015 [3 favorites]


I have had two semi formal exit interviews from jobs I voluntarily left, and in each one my management essentially acknowledged that my concerns with company culture were legit and unfixable. So.
posted by hearthpig at 10:14 AM on December 6, 2015 [1 favorite]


Do we have any HR types here at mefi that can say what the exit interview is even for?

At my last HR gig, I'd been at the company for three or four months when all of the mid-level managers quit within about a month of one another to go to other companies. The place had never done exit interviews before. I did, and it was pretty useful in putting together what everyone was unhappy about there so that I could attempt to fix it.

Assuming you liked any of your coworkers who are staying on, answering honestly in an exit interview seems like a pretty reasonable thing to do.
posted by shakespeherian at 11:09 AM on December 6, 2015 [4 favorites]


4. I have seen many botched downsizings that crushed morale and disrupted operations with astonishing efficiency, but never one that seemed capriciously cruel before.

I worked in IT at a small publishing company for nearly 10 years. In 2008 I was one of a dozen people summarily downsized by our parent company, pretty much out of the blue. At least my supervisor gave me some warning, so I was mentally prepared for it.

Between that event and the parent company finally closing the shop completely 6 years later, morale was ground down by yearly layoffs like clockwork. Nobody knew who'd get the axe next. The diminishing number of survivors were kind of stuck putting up with these conditions because it was a fairly small city with not much else for editors and graphic designers to go to. I'm still in touch with one of my former coworkers who said it got really grim and hopeless toward the end. The only reason I can think of for drawing it out excruciatingly like that was so they wouldn't have to pay everyone's severance package all at once.
posted by Greg_Ace at 12:38 PM on December 6, 2015


The only reason I can think of for drawing it out excruciatingly like that was so they wouldn't have to pay everyone's severance package all at once.

And they're hoping people will quit out of sheer misery and low morale, so they don't have to pay any severance or unemployment income. Layoffs decimate morale and productivity like nobody's business.

(Yes, I just used the word "decimate" in a non-math sense. Bite me.)
posted by cynical pinnacle at 3:25 PM on December 6, 2015 [2 favorites]


(Decimation was a HR technique before it was a math term)
posted by b1tr0t at 5:04 PM on December 6, 2015 [10 favorites]


My exit interview with the non-profit I worked for last involved the lawyer ED pressuring me to sign a severance contract that said I should have legal counsel review it, but that I had to sign right then (without counsel) and agree to give up any rights "known or unknown" to sue them over discrimination or anything. Since the severance was relatively generous, and they promised to give me good references (and so far have), I went ahead and signed it.

I describe my layoff as, "Yet another in a line of management decisions that I disagreed with," and note that the hot-shot they brought in to replace me was fired within two months for failing to fix the things that I told them about prior to my exit. The next person apparently got the freedom to create all sorts of new infrastructure because by that time, no one knew how any of the old shit worked. I still get calls from the hosting company from time to time trying to tell me about expiring domains and weird billing shit, and I've repeated the phrase, "Not my circus, not my monkeys" each time.

Turnover was pretty high the entire time I was there, and it was frustrating that instead of doing exit interviews, they'd just double down on mistakes again and again — perhaps unfairly, I've long suspect that it was related to the board being mostly lawyers, and the ED being a lawyer, and their persistent inability to recognize that non-lawyers may be experts on things and have opinions that may even be more informed or more perceptive than lawyers. This was particularly noticeable with street staff, many of whom did not have college degrees but were able to do things like plan successful campaigns. Instead of listening to the regular complaints about the campaigns and structure, they just recently shut down that part of the organization, which used to bring in a lot of revenue both directly and indirectly. Instead of being able or willing to listen to the staff about what problems they were actually having, the executive staff came up with problems they thought the staff was having, and attempted to impose top-down solutions (while mouthing platitudes about "grassroots" and "bottom-up").

It's kinda awkward too, because I believe in the overall mission and work, so I do want them to do well. But getting to that point requires that they make massive changes in the organizational culture, and to recognize the value of people who are working at all levels, and that just doesn't seem to be something that they understand.
posted by klangklangston at 6:36 PM on December 6, 2015 [9 favorites]


Assuming you liked any of your coworkers who are staying on, answering honestly in an exit interview seems like a pretty reasonable thing to do.

If you liked your coworkers and the organization isn't broken in some fun and crazy way, perhaps. Sometimes the best thing you can do for those you leave behind is not to give the powers that be any ideas that They Should Fix Things. At one place I used to work that would mean the process buzzword or certification du jour which they'd commit everyone but the top brass to holding to. So in the trenches you get to both do it The New, Right Way and whatever head-on-fire thing the big cheese dreamed up while on recreational painkillers.

I left there smiling with an aw-shucks, I just want a change of pace and to work on this other kind of thing. Those who were still there because they were golden handcuffed or couldn't get anything else didn't need me rocking their already bizarre apple cart.
posted by phearlez at 9:21 AM on December 7, 2015 [1 favorite]


At my last exit interview all they wanted to know was if I had left any trap doors or timed problems in the network.

"Yes lol. Goodbye!"
posted by turbid dahlia at 6:46 PM on December 7, 2015 [3 favorites]


Metafilter: only 15" wide including the feed holes.
posted by turbid dahlia at 7:12 PM on December 7, 2015 [3 favorites]


Green bar is only 15" wide including the feed holes.

Dang, you're right. I was going by hazy memory.
posted by Greg_Ace at 7:32 PM on December 8, 2015


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