Discussion Report 15 Exit interviews - or how to capture 30 years of Roger's experience in development cooperation?

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Nadia von Holzen: Exit Interviews - or how do you capture Roger's 30 years of experience in development cooperation?




Jane, Sabrina, Anne, Eva, Taline, Pete, Maggie, Margarita, Shucha

Key Discussion Points

People leave organisations, head elsewhere for new professional challenges. New staff joins in. Leaving staff passes programs and projects as well as important things to know to the new staff by briefing, mentoring ideally in a time-overlap. And the HR department might make an exit interview; what happens to them is again another question. But anyway there is more to it, isn’t it? A potential for learning, a moment for reflection – for and with peers for example?

And people get retired. How do you hand over Roger’s 30 years of experiences in development cooperation within the same organization? How do you capture the institutional memory walking out with him? Our group found that normally the moment when this happens is known well ahead. Knowledge capturing can be planned!

Our group identified basically two ways how experiences and knowledge can be shared: By writing or talking (as simple as that); and came up with the following ideas: Ask the leaving person, what topics she or he would like to share with others, to write down topics that matter. Then organize a lunch gathering around sandwiches and salads and let the leaving person tell his experiences and ideas. In the case of retiring Roger, he could be asked what he thinks are the most important things the organisation should pay attention to? He could identify fields of action and issues on which he makes a first personal assessment. A sounding board would be organized to share his observations and insights. Or Roger could record weekly over a longer time lap (could be his last year) in a diary or on a blog on 3-4 set topics that matter to him and the organisation. Or somebody could interview him, why certain things happened, what worked out fine and why or why not and make a podcast out of it for the intranet.

The group also stressed that capturing knowledge of leaving staff is in the interest of any organisation. It’s a management and leadership task. It can be planned ahead for Roger but also for younger staff not staying 30 years, by putting it down already into the terms of references.

So basically, exit interviews are planned from the very beginning when people are hired. And Roger won’t walk out without his immense experience valued.