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One of the Biggest Lies in Business

April 27

Dr. Cal Lightman, the fictional body language expert on Fox Television’s “Lie to Me” program, can detect lies based on facial expressions, voice inflection, and speech pattern. If the good doctor were to conduct exit interviews he would be able to point out the 77 percent of the people that say they quitting so they could make more money.

Third party exit interviews, compiled by the Saratoga Institute found the 77 percentage point gap between employer conducted exit interviews and third party exit interviews.   When a company performs its own exit interviews, the departing employee will say they are leaving for a bigger paycheck or better opportunity 89 percent of the time. Yet when exit interviewing is completed by a third party we find the number drops to just 12 percent.   The reasons employees really are leaving, according to third party interviews:

1. They did not like their boss.
2. No room for advancement.
3. No understanding of the need for a personal life.

These statistics show that employer conducted exit interviews are a waste of both time and money. The employee will not risk burning the bridge allowing them to return in the future by telling the truth.   Look at it this way. We can all appreciate the ambition of an employee seeking a better career and may even feel bad we were unable to provide it for them. Therefore they have an opportunity for a better position or more money allows them the potential of returning to their job should things not work out at the new spot.

However if they level with us and say, “I hated working for Joe. He is a real pain in the butt and made everyday miserable.  I am on the verge of an ulcer and cannot stand his arrogant demeaning form of management.” If this honest assessment were to be given to the employer they know they will never work there again.   There are two takeaways from this.   First, find someone else to conduct your exit interviews in anonymity or discontinue them. Money is better spent on other things.   Second, fix Joe. Does your management know the nuances of contemporary management? Do they have the interpersonal skills to connect their employees to a shared vision of the future of the organization and how important they are to that vision? If Joe cannot learn this important aspect of leadership he show have an exit interview done on himself!

Rick Weaver is an accomplished business executive with experience in retail, market analysis, supply chain enhancement, project management, team building, and process improvement. He has founded Max Impact (, a leadership and business strategy development company, and MBC Global (, a global commerce and education organization. Rick has also written “Life’s Leadership Lessons”, a blend of real-life stories where people, events, and things have provided insight into outstanding leadership.

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