Find out about the adequacy of employee training and development. Were operations and policies clear to employees? Was adequate training provided and support in place to learn the necessary skills?

Employees who are leaving should be questioned about whether they felt they received feedback about their performance frequently enough and whether or not it was useful feedback. Was the feedback specific enough to allow them to improve performance? Ask your employees. Employees who don’t feel their work is noticed, appreciated or recognized will not be long-term employees.

There are areas of agricultural operations that need to be evaluated and can only be evaluated by asking employees.

Did they feel free to make suggestions about improving operations? Were their ideas sought and valued? Was the personal safety of employees a priority? Were the working conditions suitable? Were all employees treated equitably and was compensation fair?

Ask about specific changes that would have improved the work experience in those areas. Finally, ask why the employee is leaving and what key factors resulted in the decision to leave.

The truth is that farm managers can be blind to some things. These blind spots become weaknesses. Employees can help fill in those areas we don’t see well.

Producers often struggle with labor management, yet don’t learn from those who could best provide valuable input. Exit interviews don’t take the place of evaluations and getting feedback from employees on a regular basis, but they can provide valuable information through which you can become a better manager.

Think about what you want to know and start drafting questions. You might try them out on current employees to let them know you are interested in their opinions.

When you ask and listen, you’ll learn.