resignWhat’s done is done – you lost an ‘A’ Player. There’s one positive you can take from the situation: Determine what you can do to prevent it from happening again. There’s a right way and a wrong way to conduct exit interviews.


Learn more about the right way by downloading the Exit Interview Tool.


We’ve also written on Sales Rep Exit Interviews. Be sure to check them out as well. So far we’ve covered:



Manager Exit Interviews: The Wrong Way

Lots of organizations will employ HR to discover why employees leave. There will be a survey/questionnaire to fill out, or perhaps an interview. If the manager leaves on good terms, they’ll cooperate with this. However, their answers will be soft. Meaning they won’t actually tell you anything of value.


If this is truly an ‘A’ Player, they’ll be savvy. They won’t want to burn bridges. As a result, the answers will be candy-coated. They’ll move on to their new gig, and you’ll still be left wondering why.


Typical insights from traditional exit interviews include:


  • The manager is leaving for a “better opportunity”
  • The manager would “highly recommend” the company
  • The manager believes he has “outgrown the role”


This gets you nowhere. If you go to the trouble of exit interviews, you must gain valuable insight. Otherwise, it’s not worth your time and effort. You might as well spend the time looking for a replacement.


The following strategy guarantees insight into why your ‘A’ Player Manager is leaving.


Manager Exit Interviews: The Right Way

You can’t just conduct one simple HR exit interview. You’ll never get the insight you need to prevent future ‘A’ Players from leaving.


There are often multiple reasons that dictate an employee’s departure. As a result, you need to attain multiple perspectives.  Each of these perspectives can collect different information. At the end, you have a comprehensive view of why the ‘A’ Player left.


Our process recommends 4 exit interviews. These interviews are outlined below, along with the focus each should have.


Sales Manager Exit Interview


  1. VP of Sales – This interview must take place in person. You make the commute to see the manager – not the other way around. The loss of an ‘A’ Player is serious, and requires your attention. If Derek Jeter left the Yankees, would they pay attention?

    The 3 main areas of focus for the VP of Sales interview are:

    –  Job Design: Were there aspects of the day-to-day job that drove the manager away? Were they unhappy with the current opportunities available?
    –  Management: Was the management of the ‘A’ Player poor? Was it simply a bad fit between the ‘A’ Player and management? Or was there more at play? Did the manager feel superior to the VP? Could a different style have kept him engaged and loyal?
    –  Company Concern: Did the manager have concerns about the future of the company? Or the structure of the company?

  2. Customer – This interview is important because customers can solicit valuable feedback as a neutral party. Customers have limited daily interaction with the manager. They likely had little to do with his leaving. As a result, no feelings will be hurt in this interview.Some of the main things to focus on in this interview are:

    – Customer Interactions- What impact did the Sales Manager have in the transaction?  What role did have they played in developing the business relationship?
    –  Level of Engagement- How frequently did the Sales Manager interact?  What was the value of the interactions?  Did these interactions increase the value of the purchase?

  3.  ‘A’ Player Rep – Download the Exit Interview Tool. Get a full breakdown of what the ‘A’ Player Rep interview focus should be.
  4. Business Partner – Download the Exit Interview Tool. Get a full breakdown of what the Business Partner interview focus should be.


After each of these interviews is conducted, the results should be combined. Use the answers to triangulate the main factors in the departure. Share what you’ve learned with your team. 


  • Why did this person truly leave?
  • What we learned from losing this ‘A’ Player?
  • What should be changed to stop it from happening next time?


Some of the main culprits generally include:


  • Management Style
  • Quotas
  • Compensation
  • Amount of travel
  • Advancement Opportunities


Don’t stop there – close the loop completely. Schedule a team follow-up 90 days out to review commitments. Ask yourselves: Have you learned anything new in the last 90 days?


Don’t wait for another ‘A’ player to announce his departure. Make the appropriate adjustments today.  Construct actionable plans that can be reviewed and monitored.  This process is crucial, and can help you avoid troubling losses in the future.