Stay Interviews Part 2

Continuing our discussion from Part One on Stay Interviews, I now draw your attention to some guidelines that will help ensure a successful interview session. The following twelve elements will launch your program and, if followed, will aid in creating a new and useful practice that can mitigate the loss of talent to your organization.

  1. These interviews must be conducted in person and on an individual basis, never remotely. It’s important that the employee feel that they are the focal point and not just one of a group.
  2. Since desks present a barrier and represents the power of position, you should never conduct stay interviews from behind the desk. Select a location away from any group setting and sit together as equals.
  3. Avoid any questions that can be answered with a yes or no. You should always ask open ended questions that require the employee to provide specific information. It’s important that your employee talk. Your role is to ask, record and contemplate resolutions.
  4. Listen to your employees. Don’t attempt to guide the conversation into what you want to hear or do. Instead, pay close attention to what gets your employee excited, engaged or frustrated and angry.
  5. Stay focused and take notes of the employee’s answers. Probe deeper into responses that are not clear or may have more behind them.
  6. It is never appropriate to argue, disagree or become defensive with your employee over their opinions, concerns or comments. When appropriate, ask the employee how they would solve their problem if they were the manager.
  7. Since the objective of stay interviews is different from the standard performance appraisal, employee performance, good or bad should never be a part of this discussion.
  8. Think and be creative in finding solutions that could be a win/win for both you and the organization. Always remember, these stay interviews must focus on the employee’s engagement and reasons for staying with the organization.
  9. Honesty is a prerequisite to building trust, therefore, be totally honest when responding to specific issues or challenges. If there are areas where you cannot make a change, be clear and up front with the employee.
  10. These interviews are not meant to be negotiations. The purpose is to gain insight, show appreciation and remind the employee that they are important to the organization and as a leader, you want to do everything possible to help them be successful and find meaning in their jobs.
  11. Time is very important. Don’t wait until there is a noticeable morale problem to begin this program. These interviews should become an integral part of the organization’s culture.
  12. The first stay interviews should be conducted by the top executive of the company or unit with that executive’s direct reports and then cascade down throughout the rest of the team to the first-line supervisors who then conduct them with their direct reports.
  13. Don’t’ send questions in advance. It reduces conversation and instead limits leaders to responding to scripted, bullet-pointed answers.

I hope these brief suggestions find merit in your consideration and you can join me in the conclusion of this topic where I will provide some of the most tried and proven questions that have met the needs of both the employee and company. And, as always, should you need additional information or help, you can contact your local Express office. Until next time, for Express Pro Talks, this is Russ Moen