For exit interview, employ tact

On the Job

It's tempting when leaving a job to chew out the employer with a litany ofreasons for the departure.

These days, workers have an opportunity to do just that. Manycompanies conduct exit interviews to find out why employees are leaving.

For workers, it's a chance to talk about their experiences and evenhelp the company improve its inner workings.

Even though you're leaving, workplace experts caution againstranting. Though a tricky line, there's a difference between constructivecriticism and petty complaints or emotional outbursts.

"Never burn bridges when you leave an employer," says Linda Barkdoll,coordinator of the human resources development graduate program at McDanielCollege. "It doesn't matter why you're leaving. First of all, you might goback some time, 10 years from now, and people will not remember your workperformance as much as the attitude or behavior you asserted when youleft."

That's not to say you should sugarcoat your experience. Be honest andgive examples. Leave your emotions at the door.

Instead of calling your boss a name, for instance, Barkdoll suggestsgiving an example that showcases poor management.

Your feedback could leave your former colleagues in a bettersituation. And that's good news for them and the employer.

"If there is a problem with a supervisor or the salary doesn't seemcompetitive or a benefit people are looking for isn't offered, it may besomething a company wants to address for employee retention," Barkdollsays.

Here's a new reader question:

Karen from Baltimore asks how she should deal with bosses who aren'tsatisfied with anything she does. "In this environment, I have nomotivation to achieve," she writes. "I have no incentive to give '200percent' any more. I just come to work and do JUST enough to squeak by andget paid until retirement. My heart is not in it anymore."

Workplace experts say there is little you can do to change a boss.You only have control over your own actions.

"We don't have the authority or the power to change others intopeople that we would like for them to be, nor can we always control ourcircumstances," says Tracy McCullom, president and chief executive of theNolan Group, a workplace consulting firm in Joppa.

McCullom suggests focusing on any positive aspects of the job becausenegative thoughts feed on each other. For instance, remember what skillsyou bring and why the company hired you in the first place.

Mel Rosche, a Towson-based career coach, encourages clients insimilar situations to consider whether other possibilities such as personalissues or burnout may be influencing work dissatisfaction.

Either way, Rosche suggests having a meeting with the boss. Solicitfeedback and clear job expectations.

That way, "she could make a choice of whether or not it's worthstaying," Rosche said.

What's happening in your workplace? Send your stories, comments and questions to Please include your first name and your city.

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