On the Ground: The Exit Interview
One important element shared by both MAP and Accreditation site visits is the exit interview with the director (and/or primary contact for MAP reviews). In this interview, you should convey your overall observations from the visit and share any major concerns and/or recommendations you plan to include in your report. You should also use the exit interview to check facts, clarify ambiguous points, get answers to lingering questions you have and offer initial ideas about the focus and content of your report. Doing this gives the staff a chance to correct any observations that they feel are based on misunderstandings of their operations. In other words, when the director reads the report it should contain no surprises.
If you are on an Accreditation visit, you and your team member should also underscore that the Commission is making the ultimate decision and is doing so based on more than just the report. It’s also good to reinforce the point that what’s said in the report is your professional opinion informed by you and your partner’s collective experience and expertise. The Commission could disagree or cite other concerns not raised in the report. This sets up the correct expectations about the role of the team and the report.
For MAP visits, the exit interview is a time to ask the primary contact about any concerns or issues that he or she would like specifically covered in the report. This is also a chance to bring up sensitive concerns, such as political issues, personnel worries or other problems that you may have noticed while on site. Talk about how these issues should be handled in writing and ask who will see the full report. Remember that while we want to be honest and forthright, the museum needs a usable report. You can assure the contact that the report will only go to the director (and/or primary contact) when finished, and that how the report is distributed is entirely at their discretion. They decide who gets a full copy and can opt to share only sections with specific parties. Furthermore, if there are sensitive issues, you can discuss the possibility of writing an executive letter that would be kept separate from the final report.
If you have questions regarding this or any other elements of the visitor report writing, always feel free to contact program staff at firstname.lastname@example.org.