Employee Retention – Love Them Before You Lose Them

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Employee Retention – Love Them Before You Lose Them
Posted in: Communications, Management

I’ve posted about loving the employees who leave you and about learning from departing employees. But I haven’t yet covered the more important topic of employee retention. Here’s one idea to help your employee retention . . . .

Many companies have a standard practice of having exit interviews with departing employees. Too many companies don’t have a standard practice of having stay interviews with the employees they want to retain.

A stay interview isn’t a 1:1 meeting or a check-in meeting. Its purpose isn’t to talk about current projects. These are meetings focused on retention. There are several parts to a successful stay interview:

  1. The best way to find out what your employees want and how to retain them is to ask them.Ask questions to gauge how you’re meeting your employees’ expectations. Not just “How’s it going?”, but specific questions to get specific answers. Some questions to ask: How are things going? What makes you stay? What would make you stay longer? How can I help you with your professional goals? Are there new things you’d like to try? Are there things I can do better, as your manager? Are there things you aren’t getting out of this job that you’d like to get out of the job? What do you love doing? What would you like to be doing more of?By the way, the only way this works is if you’re committed not only to asking the questions but also to listening to the answers and responding to them with more than words. If you can’t do that, it’s probably better to skip the stay interviews. (Click here for advice about how to ask better questions.)
  2. Provide feedback on their goals. Let employees know what’s realistic, and think about the next steps together. Appropriate expectation setting is critical to retention. Develop a plan, which should be more than a discussion. You don’t need to create the plan, but you should participate in shaping it.
  3. Understand their personal goals and what’s going on outside work. If an employee is getting married, having a baby, or sending a kid to college, you should know about it. I’m not advocating becoming friends with the people you manage. But you should be interested in their lives and know what’s going on. I loved managers who were interested in me. Also, what better way to appreciate your top performers than by knowing about their lives and finding opportunities (if  you’re lucky) to contribute to them?
  4. This is an ongoing conversation. I think it’s worth having a stay interview quarterly or twice a year if you can. Why not see if you can substitute stay interviews today for an exit interview down the line?

I used to call these check-in meetings. Kevin Kruse gave me the idea to call them stay interviews. His newest book, Employee Engagement 2.0: How to Motivate Your Team for High Performance (A Real-World Guide for Busy Managers), talks about stay interviews as well as other ways to engage your employees to help with employee retention. This book is a quick read and worth checking out.

I think stay interviews are one of the many things we should be doing to retain talent. What do you think? What are other ways to retain great talent?

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