Times Union Watch: Was SOS “Exit Interview” A Fishing Expedition?

In her July 9, 2020, Times Union story on the termination of Karen Gregory by Shelters of Saratoga (SOS), Wendy Liberatore wrote:

Exit interviews of former employees who were spoken to [Emphasis added] before Gregory left in late June describe her leadership as hostile, confrontational and unprofessional, according to copies of the documents the Times Union downloaded after they were published on https://www.saratoga-springs.org earlier this week.

Liberatore, July 11, 2020 Times Union

The downloaded documents do not support what Ms. Liberatore asserts. There is nothing in the documents that shows that the employees were actually “spoken to.” The documents are simply printouts of questionnaires sent out to persons who had left employment at SOS during the previous year and a half.

An unsuspecting reader of her story would have assumed that the employees were actually interviewed when they left the agency as they would be in a proper program designed to explore why employees leave an organization

What Is An Exit Interview?

The exit interview is a tool used by organizations to determine why employees are leaving them. Used properly it explores whether weaknesses in the organization’s operation may have contributed to unnecessary attrition.

The website Entrepreneur has a helpful discussion about the value of exit interviews.

Exit interviews are prime opportunities to figure out why someone is leaving your organization. (If you’re firing someone, of course, you don’t need to know why they’re leaving, so exit interviews aren’t necessary in this case. [JK: emphasis added]) Effective exit interviews can help improve your bottom line by reducing turnover and the associated costs of hiring and training new employees. Bear in mind, too, that nobody is likely to speak more candidly and knowledgeably about you and your company’s failings than an employee who knows what’s going on and has nothing to lose by talking. You may get some important tips about the problems and issues that are causing your employees to leave.


The SOS survey included at least one person who had been fired.

The article concludes that a questionnaire can be part of the process but it states “Finally, have a face-to-face or phone meeting the final day.”

I do not understand why SOS all of a sudden decided to go back to the past and send surveys to past employees rather than work to design a professional procedure to be used with employees leaving the agency going forward.

Given the documented problems with the termination of the executive director, it does not seem unfair to speculate that sending out a survey to past employees was a fishing expedition.

It is a testimony to the ineptitude of the SOS board that their survey didn’t even produce results that a reasonable person would consider sufficient grounds for summary termination. The survey only produced twelve returns. Of the twelve, only four were critical of Ms. Gregory. Two were actually positive and six reported they left to return to school or were fearful of infection by the virus.

4 thoughts on “Times Union Watch: Was SOS “Exit Interview” A Fishing Expedition?”

  1. Of course, you are making the assumption that the exit surveys were the main or even only reason Ms. Gregory was fired. I don’t know that and unless you have more information (in which case, please share) either do you. I realize that the board has not been forthcoming with an explanation yet to make assumptions and label the board as inept on the limited information is not fair to them or to your readers.


    1. Gayle, The blogger’s assumption of course was based on what was printed in the TU, and there has been no correction printed in the paper, no statement from the SOS board that the information in the article regarding the reasons for the firing was incorrect. In addition Mr. Kaufmann does not cite the exit surveys as the only reason for the firing. It would seem Supervisor Gaston had a hand in this as well somehow managing to turn the callous and inept response of the county to the needs of the homeless into a criticism of Ms. Gregory. In any case there is no doubt that this board handled this termination in a less than professional manner. To fire an employee without notifying the employee of the charges against her and giving her an opportunity to reply I would say is indeed inept.


      1. ” To fire an employee without notifying the employee of the charges against her and giving her an opportunity to reply I would say is indeed inept.” Do we know , for sure, that Ms. Gregory was not notified of the reasons for her dismissal? Add to that, one reality of working for any entity “at the pleasure of…” gives that same entity the right to dismiss for just about any reason without explanation. I’m not saying this is fair or good – just a reality.


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