The Board of Directors at the organization I work for has been asked by the CEO to meet with each department head (my position) individually to discuss the direction of the corporation.  I assume the Manager Tool's guidance on exit interviews applies here in that I do not want to say anything to disparage the company or leadership since what I say will not create change, and can only make me look bad.

My question is should I try to avoid the meeting altogether?  I believe that was the guidance in the exit interview podcast.  I am conflicted because I only know the members of the Board of Directors slightly, and I am looking to be promoted when my boss retires in a few years.  I have never had an opportunity to meet with the Board of Directors in the seven years I have been employed there, so it would be hard to pass this chance up.

I feel it can go one of three ways:

I do not meet with them and they think I am disinterested in the future of the organization

I meet with them and give cliche answers and become quickly forgotten, or worse, seen as though I have no intelligent ideas for the future

Say "how I really feel," and get labeled a malcontent.

Is there any way to redeem this situation?




donm's picture

There is another option you have left out. You can meet with the BOD and tell them all of the positive things that you would continue to do, do more of, or do things similar to. Why must the answer be negative or cliche?

We're making real strides in customer service. It would be great if we could bring out response time down by another 20% on top of the 30% we accomplished in the last 2 years.

We've managed to decrease our coding time by 10% per module. I think if we were to put a bit more effort into the program, we should be able to do another 10% within X timeframe.

Our group's (metric) has improved by (amount) since (time). I would like to improve this by (doing this).

Smacquarrie's picture

I have to agree with Don on this. Just because you have positive things to say does not mean that you are being cliche or telling them what they want to hear. Make a business case for your ideas and tell them how you think it can be done and what assistance would be needed. Let them drive the conversation. Be careful of responding too quickly or off the cuff. 

If you are interested in taking over, you would need to show that you have an understanding, if not a firm grasp, of how other areas are doing as well as your own.

What are you working on that could impact other areas of the company? 

What projects are under development, or in roll-out, that will impact or help drive improvements on your teams?

It is possible to be  procompany and have improvement ideas as well.


katehorstman's picture

I might suggest a re-listen of the Exit Interview cast. I have put a link below. While we do suggest that you try to avoid the exit interview, I would not suggest that path here. We don’t suggest you go to great lengths to avoid exit interviews and I would not advise that you skip this meeting. The real gold in the cast, however, might be our recommendations on how to answer questions that might attempt to lead you to negative answers. You don’t have to say nice things. You simply cannot lie.  We are not suggesting that you make things up, but there are positive responses to questions that might be hard for you to answer. Here is an example. Query: "What could your supervisor have done better?" Effective Reply: "I wouldn't feel comfortable commenting - he has many responsibilities I don't see, so I am not a good judge." Different Effective Reply: "Frankly, I'm more of a head down work focused person, and generally get along with all types of bosses. So, my opinion is he was my boss and I did my best for him."


There are more sample responses in the cast that might help. I hope that this helps!