There’s an old saying in business that people don’t leave companies, they leave managers or bosses. So how does a company keep quality people? How do you motivate and inspire employees when they tune out or mentally check out? Author and business retention expert Richard P. Finnegan believes the answer is the stay interview, a periodic meeting with individual employees to shed light on any problems while there’s still time to address them.
In Finnegan’s book entitled, THE STAY INTERVIEW, A MANAGER’S GUIDE TO KEEPING THE BEST AND THE BRIGHTEST, Finnegan explained, “As one-on-one meetings between leaders and both newly hired and continuing employees, stay interviews reinforce good relationships, forge new ones, and help repair those that are strained. On that small foundation, great companies are built.”
What are stay interviews? They are NOT the following:
(1) Team meetings.
(2) Focus groups.
(3) Meetings led by human resources staff.
(4) Annual job performance review meetings.
(5) Haphazardly-scheduled meetings.
“As managers, we get only so many positions, so many “chairs” to fill with people, including ourselves, to produce all the assignments that constitute our jobs. Great managers place total value on all chairs and the people who occupy them to ensure that they perform at their very best…Stay interviews provide the insight to know rather than have to assume if each employee fits correctly, is motivated to give 100 percent, and has intentions to stick around.”
Intrigued by the concept of stay interviews? If yes, keep reading. Here are the five questions to ask when conducting stay interviews:
(1) When you come to work each day, what things do you look forward to?
(2) What are you learning here? What would you like to learn?
(3) Why do you stay here?
(4) When was the last time you thought about leaving? What prompted it?
(5) What can I do (as your boss, manager, leader) to make your experience at work better?
There’s one more thing you can add to the stay interview template. As a leader, can you make the following request at the end of each stay interview? If yes, you’ll have happy, satisfied, long-term employees:
“(Add name of employee here), you’re going to have some tough days here because I might be difficult, our team will have conflicts, or management will run us in circles. When those days happen, you might decide to look for another job. So here is my offer. If you ever decide to start looking, I want you to promise that you will come tell me on that day. And my promise to you is I will make every effort to make our company a place where you want to stay. But if you ever place an envelope on my desk that tells me you’re leaving and we haven’t talked about it before, you’ve broken the deal.”
Employees will always search for new horizons, but wouldn’t you like to decrease the number of employees that leave? Especially the really great ones? Try using the stay interview, and you’ll see a difference.