avatarAldric Chen

Summary

The author, a professional conducting an exit interview for a disgruntled Gen Z employee, is surprised by her feedback and reflects on the gap between literacy and comprehension, expectation mismatches, and communication issues in the workplace.

Abstract

The author shares their experience conducting an exit interview for a young Gen Z employee who expressed dissatisfaction with her job. The employee's feedback was surprising and highlighted several issues, including a lack of proper mentorship, unclear expectations regarding business travel, and a perceived lack of leadership opportunities. The author reflects on the gap between literacy and comprehension, as the employee felt she was not adequately guided despite being able to read instructions. The employee also expressed frustration with the number of business trips she had to take and the lack of airtime during client presentations. Lastly, she felt there were no leadership opportunities for her within the company. The author acknowledges that some of the employee's points were valid and encourages readers to consider their own workplace dynamics and expectations.

Bullet points

  • The author conducted an exit interview for a disgruntled Gen Z employee.
  • The employee felt she was not adequately mentored, despite being able to read instructions.
  • The employee was frustrated with the number of business trips she had to take and the lack of airtime during client presentations.
  • The employee felt there were no leadership opportunities for her within the company.
  • The author acknowledges that some of the employee's points were valid and encourages readers to consider their own workplace dynamics and expectations.

I [Just] Conducted an Exit Interview for an Unhappy Gen Z. She Confused Me Big Time.

Am I out of touch? Maybe.

Are we genuinely doing such a bad job in the workplace? Photo by Natalie Heathcoat on Unsplash

Every interview is unique.

Hiring interviews can be positive and fun. Promotion interviews are competitive and may involve unspoken fist bumps. Exit interviews can be explosive.

Yes, you read that right. Explosive.

And what upsets a recent outgoing Gen Z… confused me.

“No One Teaches Me What to Do.”

This is surprising.

I am sure we have mentorship programs. Team leads, and managers are also told to spend more time with the juniors so they can assimilate into the company fast.

We don’t leave them alone to perish at a desk by the far corner.

To hear this feedback in an exit interview is shocking.

This is the last thing my HR Director wants to know. His laments ring loudly in my head.

“Come on, you assh0les! No one will groom the youngsters in your charge on your behalf!”

And because this is surprising [to me], I zipped my lips and paid close attention to the words entering my ears.

She spoke, I wrote.

“Everyone dropped me emails on how to do what. Some colleagues are so overwhelmed with work that they reply to my Teams messages with a hyperlink to the company’s Sharepoint for onboarding information.”

I scribbled on with no judgment.

Jasmine ended with this.

“There is a difference, right? I can read English. But that is different from knowing what to do or comprehending the written words. I need someone to attend to me!”

Her voice got louder and was filled with exasperation.

I put my pen down, rubbed my palms, and gave this feedback some thought.

There is no need to fight her in an exit interview.

“Thank you for this candid feedback, young one. You have a point. We need to pay more attention to the newcomers.”

Jasmine did not stop there.

She kept hammering.

TL;DR — The gap between literacy and comprehension hit me hard. My father can read the instructions to download an app. That said… he may not know what an app is or what it does.

“I Am Surprised by the Number of Business Trips.”

She was [obviously] annoyed.

This is an unspoken expectation mismatch to me.

Traveling for business is brilliant, I think. The company pays and we get to see the world without forking out any money.

You see. That is the problem. I think.

“I traveled 4 times in 6 months. It lasted between 7 days to 14 days each time. Why can’t we do web conferences? Such a chore to pass through immigration gantries and apply for visas. PLUS.”

Jasmine is very good at dropping punches. I give her that.

“This company is a cheapskate. I thought only juniors fly in Economy Class. I was shocked that my manager had the same treatment. Why can’t we fly Business Class? It hurts to squeeze in for 5 hours.”

I will be honest. This is my first time hearing such feedback.

Imagine my shock.

I tried explaining to Jasmine that we are on a financial austerity drive to control costs, and only flights exceeding 8 hours are eligible for Business Class tickets.

I thought, I thought, I sounded sincere and made sense.

That is… until I heard her retort.

“You have been trained to put cost over staff welfare. It is ridiculous.”

Sigh.

That sounded accusatory, too. Well, well.

TL;DR — Always read the company policy to assess what you can do or not do. Honestly, if you are willing to pay out of your pocket to upgrade your seat — No one will stop you.

“I Have No Airtime in Client Presentations.”

This sounded extreme.

And it was delivered in an accusatory tone.

I know her manager. Jonathan is known to distribute airtime across different team members. Even fresh hires get airtime.

And so, I probed.

“Jonathan got me to present the section on our client portfolio. No one listens to that. I want to present the meaty piece, like the pricing or our offer to the client. I asked for a chance. I got denied.”

I sighed slightly louder this time.

“Did you ask Jonathan why he rejected you?”

Jasmine replied within a fraction of a second.

“Yes, but I am not convinced. Jonathan needed to field the most experienced member of the team to deliver these sections with confidence. He was patronizing me.”

Wow.

I mean…

… I lowered my head and continued scribbling.

What could the reason for her unhappiness be? That Jonathan is not convincing enough? That this young lady expected more… and it will not come to her at this point in her career?

I can only postulate.

TL;DR — Expectation misalignments happen all the time. Aim to have recurring open conversations with people around you. You may appreciate the workplace dynamics better. If not, find somewhere else where you can blend in better.

“There Are No Leadership Opportunities for Me.”

Yet another extreme statement.

Jasmine didn’t wait for my cue this time. She blasted her soon-to-be ex-boss for 10 minutes non-stop.

“I suggested improvements. No one cared. I raised my hand to lead a cross-team project. It went to someone 3 years my senior. I mentioned that I want to be promoted next year. Fell on deaf ears.”

Bold words = Higher volume

This is just the tip of the iceberg.

In truth, I was no longer listening. It was psychologically demanding to conduct an exit interview with someone this angry.

And I kept wondering if the problem was with her expectations, the company’s operating model, or a lack of communication with Jonathan.

I kept my smile while waiting for her to be done.

TL;DR — We don’t always get what we want, fast. Focus on moving as fast as you can. That is the best you can do for yourself. Really.

The Close

Is this young lady right on point with her viewpoints?

I doubt.

But Jasmine got me thinking. Some points were valid.

  • There is a difference between reading and comprehension.
  • We must explain the company’s policies better.
  • We must support our new hires better.

Then, there are our expectations at work. Reality isn’t always ready to match our expectations. What do we do then? Leave? Or stay on and continue fighting to achieve our goals?

And how long should we stay before firing our bosses? I have no answers.

What about you?

What do you think?

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