An Exit Interview is a form of debriefing mostly used when someone is leaving service with one YWAM centre, or the mission entirely. It has twin uses in that it helps bring closure for the staff member but it also can be very helpful for revealing hidden problems or potential at the centre.
I've often wondered how much money I'd pay for information that would improve my work, my recruiting, and my fruitfulness. Good businesses have for a long time recognised that some of the best information can be got from people who are leaving and the information may be specially helpful if the person is leaving unhappily. In YWAM we are in the business of doing a better job each year and really need the information that those leaving YWAM have. It is a simple process and will focus around the 6 questions below. For detailed information about specific aspects of our work and community look at the YWAM Brussels documents.
If people leaving YWAM are willing to gift us with their time and insights into YWAM -- good and bad! -- we will have some powerful stuff to help us improve in the way we attract and treat staff and how we run our ministry.
One of our best DTS leaders would ask his DTS students these kinds of questions at the end of the DTS and routinely DID WHAT THE STUDENTS SAID. It takes a certain grown-upness to take the advice of DTS students and use it uncritically but hey, that's the sort of folk we are!!! And quess what? His DTSs got better and better and more students wanted to come -- he had no problem with recruiting students. Wow, he got valuable information!
Recruiting new students -- if we know why the old ones left we may better understand why new ones would want to come. And we could deal with the reasons why some left unhappily.
Perhaps more important than the very valuable information we may get from leaving YWAMers is the opportunity to help them have a sense of closure about their time in YWAM. Without closure ex-YWAMers may find it hard to move on with their lives, always being drawn back into thinking about unresolved issues, guilt about leaving etc. Closure can let a person say, "It's been great." and "Some things weren't what I expected but I've been heard and I'm happy that they have been resolved."
Who Should do the Exit Interview?
Someone whom the leaving YWAMer trusts and has confidence that the right things will be done with the information. They need to be sympathetic and willing to pray for the person, even apologise (be humble!) to them. They must be able to follow through on the suggestions that are made. There are a lot of people who would like nothing more than to sit and chat with someone who is leaving but unless they have some real opportunity to feed the information back to YWAM with some confidence that it will be heard and acted upon it will be a missed opportunity.
Where Should the Exit Interview Be Done?
Important to do this either in a neutral place or on the leaving YWAMers territory -- especially if they are kind and courageous to share with us some of our failings. Likely it will be somewhere with a degree of privacy because there are likely to be tears -- it is a moving time after all. And then I like to pay for food or coffee or something like that. It is a very small gesture to say thank you for their time in YWAM.
How Long Will it Take?
Anywhere from 2 hours to 2 days! Giving them the questions beforehand may help them the give higher quality answers that will give us the valuable information and enable them to bring real closure.
Questions to Ask
It is better to think about areas to talk about rather than a few specific questions. So then, should talk about the following things.
- Good things -- important to affirm the leaving person's contribution and set the context for the interview.
- Negatives -- this is some of the best and often most painful stuff, especially where we have got it wrong with the person. We do get it wrong and the only way to really learn from the situation and change and not do it again is to take time and listen to people's pain. We will need to be humble and not defensive, apologise and even make restitution. (One of our leadership schools was so poorly organised that the school fees were refunded to the students! It cost us, but it was the right thing to do. Although perhaps the right thing to do would be to have got it more right first time!) Important here to separate out the two issues of: the leaving YWAMer's pain and responsibility for the incidents. Praying for them is not the substitute for any necessary restitution.
- Most Happy about in terms of accomplishments?
- What would make staying easier? This will help us to keep for longer those YWAMers who should be staying.
- Why are you leaving? or, why did you leave? Again, there may be pain that we need to recognise and take responsibility for.
- What would have made the leaving easier? Are there some people in YWAM who should have left years ago? are there some people in YWAM who are marooned here and don't know how to leave and move on with their lives?
Staff Leaving Questionnaire (See Below)
In order for us to know how we can improve the structure and support of the base we would appreciate your help in filling in this questionnaire.
Please feel free to be as honest as possible.
Job/role on base: ________________________________
Date of leaving: ________________________________
- Accommodation: how could we improve?
- Process of allocation?
- Have they actually been met:
- Functionally? -- practically, in reality? Were you able to do what you were recruited to do?
- If not, has God compensated in other ways?
- Have they actually been met:
- Do you feel you have had adequate opportunity to use your gifts & abilities?
- Have you any suggestions for ways in which we could better prepare people for coming on staff?
- How well were you prepared?
- Was help available when you wanted it?
- What other ways do you see we could help staff in this area?
- Pastoral Care:
- Has the pastoral support been adequate?
- How could we do it better?
- In what ways have you grown spiritually since being on the base?
- Staff Activities: what do you think has been good; what could be improved?
- House Worship
- Small groups
- Staff meetings
- What has been your best experience in working with others?
- Do you have any unresolved broken relationships with people on the base?
- Availability of Leadership?
- Any further comments.