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I submitted my letter of resignation earlier today to my supervisor. He forwarded it to our boss and shortly after the boss wanted to meet with us for a discussion. Basically he wants me to provide a list of reasons why I/other people are leaving the company. A colleague in my department just left three weeks ago, so I can see why they are asking me this. But I really hesitate to openly state all the problems this company has which has led to the high turnover rate.

I know I am leaving on good terms, but should I really be completely honest with this solicited advice or just play it safe?

Edit: This question is different from others regarding appropriate discussion during exit interviews because this request did not happen during an exit interview, it occurred right after my two weeks was submitted. Also the fact that a coworker recently left just before my resignation seems to have a role in this, like the company is trying to figure out what they should do to hang on to the people that are left.

  • Would you ever want to use that boss as a reference? You can always give them a toned down version of why you are leaving. – paparazzo May 18 '15 at 19:36
  • Its funny how often people ask similar questions, the answer is almost always: no, probably not, just resign politely, with minimal discussion. I think people have a natural urge to get their dissatisfaction off their chest, an urge that is not wise to exercise after committing to leave a place. – Mark Rogers May 19 '15 at 3:53
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Basically he wants me to provide a list of reasons why I/other people are leaving the company.

I know I am leaving on good terms, but should I really be completely honest with this solicited advice or just play it safe?

You aren't capable of providing a list of reasons why other people are leaving. Only they can do that. You could provide a long list of reasons why you think they are leaving, but that's the best you could realistically do, and taking those sorts of guesses isn't something I'd advise.

You can provide a long list of why you are leaving, should you choose to do so. Again, not something I'd advise.

For me, I almost always stick with the safe, generic "I'm leaving for a better opportunity" reasons.

In my experience, little good can come of a laundry list of "all the problems I see". Venting (even if asked) might make you feel better, but won't do you any good in the long run.

And venting (even if requested) almost certainly won't make things better for the folks you leave behind. If the boss' boss really wanted to know what was going on she/he would be more tuned in with current employees, and wouldn't rely on an unhappy employee on their way out to open his/her eyes.

Only you can decide what you actually choose to do in this situation. If it were me, I'd speak only happy thoughts, put this job behind me, and move on.

(The only times I've ever deviated from that practice are when I had a close personal relationship with the founder, or with an influential boss. In those two cases, I gave my honest opinion and advice. In both cases, it didn't matter in the long term as both companies went under within a year.)

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    Just FWIW, I wouldn't actually be impressed by someone who in this situation responded with "I'm leaving for a better opportunity. Your company is perfect. Nobody does anything wrong. I'm way too scared of you to provide you with feedback". But failing to impress is much better than annoying and offending someone by making a criticism they can't accept. – Steve Jessop May 19 '15 at 1:38
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    +1. I've done it both ways and it never helped me or the company when I did point areas for improvement. Most had been neglected for years and they weren't going for me. – kevin cline May 19 '15 at 2:06
  • @JoeStrazzere: sure, although actually this question isn't about the exit interview itself, it's about the boss asking the employee during the notice period to do something that normally belongs in an exit interview. If you don't care about their opinion of you at all, do what feels good. If you care a little bit, play safe. If you actively want to remain on good terms then unfortunately you have to at least consider doing what they asked you to do. Which might mean avoiding the question in a slightly less blatant way :-) – Steve Jessop May 19 '15 at 13:43
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You left for a reason and you probably weren't too happy about it. There are other people now in that same scenario who are afraid to voice the very same reason due to a fear of unemployment.

You would be doing them a favor by letting your employer know what your reasons are, and so long as you give feedback in a respectful manner you should be able to maintain your good references.

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    I'd agree with this, if you have any wish to make the environment that you are leaving a better place for those who are not leaving. When I voluntarily left a job some time ago (not something I normally do) one of the things I did before I left was submit to middle management a detailed, non-emotional list of reasons why I was leaving and what would have persuaded me to stay. Recently I exchanged a couple of emails with a former colleague, who told me that less than a year after I left most of the problems had been addressed. My doing? Who knows. But I'm glad I spoke up. – Francine DeGrood Taylor May 18 '15 at 20:29
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The best advice so far has been to suggest that they discuss this with the remaining employees. But from an employee perspective, the majority of remaining staff will be more than a little reluctant to share anything negative about their employment, much less let anyone know if they are looking for new employment.

The best thing that you may be able to do is: at the exit interview, follow the advise of "leaving for employment that better matches my long term goals" or what every polit reason that you have; then after you have left - then send an anonymus note with issues that you experienced as well as those that preceeded you.

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I do not think that's it is a good idea to get into any detail about your reasons, rather tell them to speak to the employees that are still there. That in itself can be enough advice for them to make improvements as those are the people they need to listen to.

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    This would have been better served as a comment rather than as an answer. – Jane S May 19 '15 at 1:44

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