Stay Interviews Part 3

As we conclude our discussion of this critical piece of retaining talent, I want to now draw your attention to the execution portion on Stay Interviews.

A study by Development Dimensions International or DDI found that engagement is strongly influenced by leadership quality and that employee levels of engagement were much higher when their supervisors had higher levels of engagement making them less likely to leave the organization within a year.

A second study by the U.S. Merit Systems Protection Board titled “The Power of Federal Employee Engagement,” also reinforces that supervisors have a major impact in the following areas:

  1. Communicating job expectations.
  2. Making good use of employee skills and abilities.
  3. Ensuring that employees have the tools to do their jobs.
  4. Providing employees with challenging work.
  5. Recognizing and rewarding employees appropriately.
  6. Treating employees with respect.
  7. Showing value for employee opinions.
  8. Fostering an environment of teamwork and cooperation.

The Saratoga Institute found that poor leadership causes 60 percent of all employee turnover. This study was extensive covering more than 19,000 workers across seventeen industry groups and specified that the majority leave because they are not recognized or coached by their supervisors. 60% of Employees leave because of poor leadership.

Another confirming finding comes from Gallup consultants, Marcus Buckingham and Curt Coffman in their book, “First Break All the Rules.” They say if you have a turnover problem and continue to lose your talent, look first to your managers. They go on to say that how long an employee stays and how productive she or he is will be determined by the relationship with their immediate supervisor or manager.

What makes the Gallup findings so important is that their conclusions are based on study results from over one million employees and eighty thousand managers spanning a period of twenty-five years.

Knowing how critical the role of the manger/supervisor is, let’s focus on these “starter” questions that can be expanded to fit most any organization.

Questions should always be open-ended and begin with words like how, what, why, where and when. These are designed to avoid any yes-or-no responses.

  • Question 1 – “What do you look forward to each day when you come to work?”
    This question focuses on the present and solicits their feedback on daily duties and challenges rather than on pay and benefits. An effective probe might ask “what is an example,” or “can you tell me more about that?”
  • Question 2 – “What are you learning here, and what do you want to learn?”
    This asks them to share ideas on their specific development and career aspirations. Some good probes are: “What other jobs within our organization look good to you?” And, “what skills do you think are required for those jobs?”
  • Question 3 – “Why do you stay here?”
    This question opens major doors for discovery. Most employees would need to give this question some thought. A follow upmight be: “Take your time, I really want to know.”
  • Question 4 – “When was the last time you thought about leaving the company and what prompted it?”
    A possible follow up question could be: “Tell me more about how that happened, what was said and what were the circumstances?”
  • Question 5 – “What can I do to make your job here better?”
    This question sends out a net for all remaining topics and it ultimately provides answers about the supervisor/interviewer. Your composure is critical here. Avoid defensiveness as poor reactions can cause word to spread that the supervisor cannot take feedback and any future stay interviews become fruitless. Some probes could ask: “Do I tell you when you do something well?” or “What are three ways I can be a better supervisor for you?”

I hope this discussion and examples provide a reason to continue your research in this area and help you create the individual engagement and retention plans needed for mitigating the loss of talent. And, as always, should you need further discussion or assistance, don’t hesitate to contact your local Express office. For Express Pro Talks, this is Russ Moen.