Analysis of Nobscot Exit Interviews Reveals Managers Rated High in Job Skills; Low in Managerial Abilities

October 12, 2004 | By Beth N. Carvin

Honolulu, HI October 12, 2004 -- Analysis of more than 10,000 employee exit interviews from Nobscot Corporation's exit interview system reveal that although employees view their managers as being skilled at their job, they are less positive about their supervisor's managerial abilities in such things as providing appropriate levels of praise, rewards and reprimands. Seventy percent of departing employees rated their direct supervisor's job skills as favorable or most favorable. This favorable rating dropped to 54% when employees rated supervisors on providing the appropriate level of praise and rewards, and 53% for delivering the appropriate level of reprimands.

These results were culled from Nobscot Corporation's WebExit exit interview system ( which is used by companies worldwide to identify reasons for employee turnover. The exit interviews in this analysis include employees from the Banking, Financial Services, Retail, Manufacturing, Utilities, Healthcare, Education, Government and Technology sectors.

Other findings from the exit interview analysis include:

  • The managerial factor that received the greatest number of unfavorable ratings was "The appropriate level of praise and rewards." 23% of all respondents rated this factor as either unfavorable or least favorable.
  • "Supervisors' ability to motivate" and "Supervisors' understanding of employees' needs" also received significant unfavorable ratings. Each of these managerial factors received an unfavorable or least favorable rating by 22% of respondents.
  • The findings held true in both the US and in other countries. In Australia, for example, the contrast was even more stark with 87% of employees rating their supervisor's skill level favorably but only 52% rating their supervisor favorably for providing the appropriate level of praise and reward and just 35% of employees felt their supervisor provided the appropriate level of reprimands.
  • The UK mirrored the United States closely in regard to favorability of manager skill level at 68% favorable but only 44% of UK employees rated the levels of praise/rewards favorably and just 33% rated the level of reprimands as favorable.
"The results of this analysis remind us that we too often promote skilled professionals into supervisory roles without providing the appropriate degree of managerial training," stated Beth N. Carvin, CEO of Nobscot Corporation. "Smart companies are looking at innovative approaches such as mentoring that can help new managers come up to speed quickly in these areas."

Some of the comments provided by the employees on the exit surveys summed it up this way:
  • "Good job performance, poor management skills."
  • "My supervisor is an excellent financial person but a bad manager. He is not comfortable managing people but again he is excellent in his financial director role."
  • "She was excellent at product and company knowledge but her skills with people are the worst that I ever worked with."
Regarding praise and rewards, many employees felt that the only time they learned they were valued was when they communicated their intention to leave. There were many comments such as, "The only time I got praise was when I gave my two week notice. I thought I was only doing a fair job up until then. Praise is the way to keep happy employees."

Concerns over reprimands included the verbally abusive nature of reprimands and the public delivery of reprimands. Some typical comments were:

  • "She yells at us like children. It is embarrassing to be yelled at in front of the others. Particularly when customers can hear."
  • "Threatens, demeans, uses curse words"
  • "Management shouted and stormed down the aisles publicly calling your name was humiliating"
Another common concern was with Managers who do nothing to reprimand those employees who need it most.

  • "unable or unwilling to face conflict."
  • "there are quite a few people who get away with doing very little or very badly."
  • "Don't feel that poor performers are addressed whatsoever. Dead weight stays on."
  • "Lots of lazy employees who don't do their job or call in sick a lot but are never addressed by management. People who work hard are never rewarded."
On the positive side, there are also some excellent supervisors that appreciate and are appreciated by their staff.

"She is always very good at immediately praising the team members, both on an individual level and in front of the team as a whole. She never used bribery, but constant praise for what was done well and encouragement for areas of improvement."

Carvin stresses the importance of promoting employees who show leadership qualities, providing initial and ongoing opportunities for managerial training and measuring managers' effectiveness through exit interview analysis.

More information on this study is available at Nobscot Corporation's website at:

About Nobscot Corporation

Nobscot Corporation, the pioneer in exit interview management software, was founded in April 2000. In December 2001 Nobscot's WebExit was crowned one of the Top 10 HR Products of the Year by HR Executive Magazine. Today WebExit is the gold standard for exit interview automation and is used by organizations in over 20 countries worldwide.

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