City Manager to review (read: kill) exit interviews idea

Post by Mike Klassen in


The City of Vancouver should conduct exit interviews of outgoing staff, says Anton

Coun. Suzanne Anton had an interesting idea which she brought to city council this week. In the face of unprecedented losses in Vancouver's senior management, she proposed that the City conducts exit interviews to find out why staff are leaving.

She was interviewed by CBC Early Edition's Rick Cluff this week about it, which you can listen to here (mp3):

Vaughn had a lot to say about the flip-flop on the matter of transparency. We have similar observations. For example, let's take a quick scan of what candidate Robertson was saying prior to becoming Vancouver's Mayor:

Of course, the idea went over like a lead balloon with others in the chamber. Anton was suggesting, with good reason, that many senior staff were leaving because of their frustration under the current administration. Dozens have left, many pushed out by the new bosses. With them went years of institutional knowledge and experience that will take years (and many dollars) to replace.

City staff are so challenged by the demands of the new regime that the City has even had to hire a "change manager" to get everyone in line. Now, we won't suggest that Vancouver's bureaucracy shouldn't evolve, or learn new ways of doing things. However, the City had earned a reputation has an excellent workplace before Vision Vancouver formed government (and those laurels are not being given to them anymore).

Further, we're hearing anecdotally that headhunters are giving the City of Vancouver a pass these days. Anton's suggestion was a wise one – use a best practice of the corporate world to make the public service better.

So what did Vision Vancouver decide to do with Anton's idea? Give it to City Manager Penny Ballem to study. Yes, the one person most likely for the departures of all the staff we've lost, has been put in charge of "reviewing" that proposal. Bet on it never, ever seeing the light of day.

The politicization of Vancouver's traditionally non-partisan public service continues apace, and certainly the impudent suggestions of an opposition councillor are not going to get in the way of that.

I suggest we put this on the wish list of items for the City's new government in 2012, when Ballem has left and the next council is in to mop up the mess created by Vision Vancouver.

- post by Mike


Very well said Michael. This is also happening at the Park Board. No one is stating that change is not essential in any organization but the rapid change and loss of knowledge and experience is more destructive than positive. Moral at the city is at an all-time low and there is little to no regard for why this is happening. There is a reason that Vancouver is the most livable city and that has to do in great part to municipal staff who love their jobs and their city from every level. You cannot recycle staff and expect people to sustain that feeling.

The fact that they don't already do exit interviews is disturbing. This is common practice now.

I have often thought that the best way to improve any public, private or institutional organization is to conduct exit addition to finding out why employees left, and addressing potential problems, these interviews can often produce good suggestions to improve an organization.

Put another way, those who have worked in a company, institution or government department often have the best suggestions on how to improve the organization. It was certainly true at CMHC where I worked for 10 years. Those leaving were often a fountain of knowledge!

Exit interviews are an excellent idea and a good way to improve any organization.

Exit interviews are the only way to pass on any knowledge, suggestions, reasons why they left the organization. There are so many of the long timers that have left and all that knowledge simply walked out the door. That is unacceptable for such a large and old organization as the city.

On another note, they don't do Performance Evaluations either so what's worse???

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