The value of the Exit Interview

At the moment we have about 20 teachers leaving CISB for a variety of reasons both personal and professional. Some who have been here for many years, some only for a few, some with families or as a couple or others who are single. The age ranges, cultures and experiences of these staff are varied. For us this provided a rich sample to collect data.

In an effort to learn more about our school, our leadership and life here in Beijing we decided to conduct exit interviews with a cross section of our staff. We chose a member from every grade level, and specialty teachers as well as those who were single, married and had families.

We asked staff to provide their feedback in the following areas:

*Professional Learning
*Leadership and Coaching
*Facilities: School and Residence
*Living Conditions (Work/Life Balance, Social, Community and Health)
*Students and Parents

We then asked the following 3 reflection questions:

1. After _____ years at CISB how do you feel overall?
2. If you were in our shoes what would you do differently?
3. What are the things that you have done that you are most proud of?

We set a 40 minute time slot for each person and talked through the questions recording their feedback and asking clarifying questions.

We made many important discoveries through this process. We were able to identify areas of strength, gaps and some challenges or obstacles that we needed to address in order to improve our leadership and also the experience for students and staff at CISB.

Overall we found that people are happy and have viewed their time here at CISB as a positive opportunity for both personal and professional growth.

We were also pleasantly surprised that we had identified many of these areas and had proactively planned forward to address these items in the 2019-2020 school year.

Feedback is a double edged sword. When you ask for it you are putting yourself in a position of vulnerability. It can hurt when you receive information that is personal or paints your leadership in a negative light. It can be incredibly validating as well. Providing you with a source of pride. But more importantly is it useful? Do you take it, reflect and create action for change? Do you sit on it and do nothing? Both are responses with consequences. By not acting on feedback staff may wonder why you asked in the first place and see it as a waste of their time. By acting on every piece of feedback you may be seen as trying too hard to please others and as responding without considering the bigger picture implications. It can appear that you are wishy washy!

I recently read an article by Dave Bailey title “How to Create a Feedback Culture” in this article he talks about strategies to create a culture of feedback. He says:

1. Feedback must be normalized.
2. Scheduled as a regular part of a meeting.
3. Gathered through many challenges.
4. Reciprocal and direct

If an organization wants to build a strong culture then they need to have a strong system for feedback.

We have scheduled feedback meetings with our coaches and coordinators this week as well. Our hope is that we can have an open dialogue in which we both give and receive feedback about our leadership over the course of the year. We are committed to creating a stronger culture that better serves our students and staff as a result.

“The key to learning is feedback. It’s impossible to learn anything without it.” Steven Levitt

One thought on “The value of the Exit Interview

  1. Loved this! It made me think about why we’re more often than not NOT asked for feedback when exiting a position – because our leaders fear what they will hear and will view it as pointing out their weaknesses instead of seeing it as opportunities for change. Thank you for being a strong, competent leader who wants to do even greater things in her school!

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