Let’s Have a Conversation – Stay Interviews

This is the first in a series of posts about some of my favorite conversations to have – stay, skip, and exit interviews.

Conversations don’t just magically happen on their own. They especially don’t magically happen upwards. If you want to know what’s going on with your front-line and mid-level employees, you have to ask them. Directly, repeatedly, and in a few different ways.

This is why I advocate for stay, skip, and exit interviews. Each of them will bring up different insights from different perspectives. All of them are good to do on a regular basis. I think of them as preventative care.

Stay interviews are conversations you have to find out what’s going well and what could be going better. They can be done by a manager or HR, and they’re an opportunity for employees to share their thoughts, perspectives, and overall experience.

I like to ask questions that are specific enough to get meaningful answers, while still leaving a wide range of possible responses. One of my favorites is, “What is one thing that, if it changed, would have you immediately looking for a new role?” Sometimes it uncovers what that employee values most about their job. Perhaps it’s their manager, or the nature of the work they do. Other times employees speak to what they’re anxious about losing. Maybe they’re worried about hitting the ceiling for professional growth at the company, or perhaps they’re concerned about changes to the company’s culture.

Going offsite for stay interviews is a great option if you’re able to. Heading around the block to a coffee shop, or even somewhere on site that you don’t usually work, is helpful. Shaking up the location can make it a little easier to get your head out of the day-to-day and have a candid big-picture conversation. Plus, who doesn’t appreciate being treated to coffee?

The term “stay interview” came about as the answer to exit interviews. Rather than waiting to learn about motivators and pain points when somebody is on their way out the door, you can do it proactively. When you know what to start, stop, or keep doing, you can maintain a working environment that employees want to stick around for.

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