We’ve all had a slip of the tongue at work – whether that’s revealing too much about what happened at the weekend, or accidentally sending a funny image to the wrong person.
However, one worker may have made one of the most mortifying mistakes, by sending the entire company an email relaying his opinion of his bosses.
Michael Stuban, 58, a Manager at the Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission, was about to retire after his 35-year career.
Before he left, he was given an exit questionnaire which included questions about salary, benefits and any improvements or suggestions he had for the company.
Stuban was brutally honest in the written comments section, which he accidentally sent to all 2000 employees at the Turnpike Commission.
He wrote: “I really didn’t want to retire yet. I like my job. The first 30 years were great but the last five years are terrible.”
Then he got down to the nitty-gritty, stating: “We have no morale, I feel the PTC is rudderless, that executive-level management is out of touch with average employees, only looking out for themselves.”
When asked about the frustrations he had, he wrote: “Giving us classes where we are being told we are not political. That’s bull****. Jobs/Promotions are filled by the politicians, it’s who you know, not what you know. Positions created for people who are not qualified.”
He also suggested a few changes: “Get rid of unqualified employees (I know that’s a dream, they have political connections or are someone’s relative.)
He explained to the Philly Inquirer, (through occasional chuckles) about his ruthless response: "When they asked for an honest exit interview, I gave them one. I sent it minutes before I officially retired."
He added that one of the biggest problems at the agency is political patronage, where relatives of powerful people get hired regardless of their competence.
"They hire a lot of people that are dumb as rocks," he said.
Despite his frankness about the negative aspects, Stuban did also give a balanced view of his tenure, writing in his note: “I don’t feel any other position would be better than my position on the PTC. I liked my job and was thankful to have it.”
However, Sean Logan, Chairman of the Turnpike Commission, who received the email, was not impressed. He replied to all and wrote: "Mr. Stuban . . . I don't believe we ever met, and after reading your exit questionnaire, I am grateful that we didn't."
This case highlights the importance of the exit interview.
All companies should conduct exit interviews. An exit interview will give the company the opportunity to get the opinions of those leaving the company in terms of how they perceive the company, and most importantly, why they would want to leave the company. Once employees have handed in their resignation and know they are going to be leaving they are far more likely to open up and be honest when asked to provide constructive criticism in terms of how they perceive the company, the way its run, its culture, its management style, the opportunities offered for career growth etc.
An exit interview should typically be conducted by a Human Resources employee or an objective person not directly involved with the individual. This allows for objectivity, as well as the opportunity for the individual to be able to voice their concerns and gripes, without feeling awkward or threatened in any way. The individual is far more likely to open up and be honest around their reasons for leaving, if they are talking to somebody who is impartial, and not somebody they have been working with on a day to day basis, or one of their managers.
At the end of the day, exit interviews can be extremely effective tools when used properly, in terms of assessing and analysing overall employee engagement. The onus in on HR to do these interviews, and to then make effective use of the information that is gained during exit interviews. Ultimately if this information is used properly it can be extremely valuable in terms of playing a part in preventing future employees from leaving the company, and improving the company’s overall working environment.