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Conduct “Stay Interviews” to Promote and Retain Talent


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Being a huge advocate for feedback, regular coaching conversations and performance previews, as opposed to reviews, I believe if dialogue and communication is open, clear, and consistent, there should be no surprises. Feedback given and received regularly is imperative and needs to be provided by you as the leader and also from your team back to you.

Too often feedback and coaching is reactive and remedial, often when a situation is past the point of no return. Research shows that four out of 10 workers are actively disengaged when they get little or no feedback and up to 82% of employees appreciate positive and negative feedback in order to grow and leverage their strengths.

Giving and receiving feedback

Working with a client recently, we discussed the ways the organisation she works in gives and receives feedback. Brianna, my client, shared with me that as an organisation, they have what they have what is called “stay interviews”. These are run regularly and are jealously protected pieces of time dedicated to giving and getting feedback. I say “jealously” protected, as I cannot tell you how many times, I see feedback and coaching sessions cancelled due to so-called conflicting priorities. As a leader, people need to be an OR not an AND in our day-to-day function; people before progress, I say.

Stay interviews

I love the concept of “stay” interviews, and as we are all well aware, happy people usually don’t leave a company. If we can know when happiness, commitment and energy drops, at least we can proactively do and drive what needs to be done.

“Stay” interviews create a space for awareness and growth, with time dedicated to a few structured questions and the headspace for both parties to be present, engaged and ready to contribute.

Making “stay” interviews successful

Make them regular

Don’t make these a one-off event, name them and lock them in as you would with any meeting. Consistent catch ups will breed momentum, rapport and openness. Be committed and don’t cancel or back out – people are your priority. Look at what it will cost you and the organisation if you’re not all in.

Aside from regular coaching, mentoring and team catch-ups, we suggest doing these at least every 6-8 weeks, for 20-30 minutes per person.

A bit like exercise, once in the habit, these will become the way you do things.

Plan the purpose

Make sure each person knows “why” the interviews are occurring.

Giving each other open and honest feedback to feed-forward is imperative.

People only buy into anything if there is something in it for them – we are the same, so ensure you spend time setting the scene and expectations around this. Maybe run a facilitated team session on the whole concept of “Stay Interviews”? You need buy-in to make this worthwhile.

Success in the structure

Don’t dilute what could be an insightful conversation by having idle chit chat. Respect the other persons time and expect the same in return.

Plan out a few great questions to get the responses that will benefit all; here are a few examples below:

  • What is lighting you up in your role right now?
  • Are you satisfying these motivators?
  • How are you feeling about your role?
  • What is your overall job satisfaction?
  • How can I improve this?
  • What do you like about working here?
  • What keeps you here?
  • What do you like the most / least?
  • Where are you getting the most traction?
  • What and who is frustrating you?
  • What is stretching and growing you?
  • How are you feeling recognised?
  • What is your preferred style for feedback?
  • What could you change or do differently?
  • As a team, what would bring us closer to being a super-team?”
  • What’s your greatest learning to date?
  • Confidence, capability and capacity… rate each one, 1-5?
  • As your manager, what could I do differently or change?
  • If you change anything about the way, I lead how would that look (leading team, recognition, coaching, feedback)?

When we adopt what I call a Gift Mindset, we embrace challenges as opportunities to learn and grow ourselves and others.

Flip it around

Now it’s your turn! Let the team interview you! We all know how valuable disclosure is and your team will thank you for it! From experience, you can do this 1:1 or as a team, ensuring everyone contributes.

Follow up

The interviews will leave you all with golden nuggets of opportunity and progress – don’t let this slip and be forgotten! If you do; not only is this a waste of time and resources, but it also dims the commitment of future conversations. All of those involved need to take accountability and ownership and action what needs to be done as part of an overall ongoing development plan.

Written by Renée Giarrusso.

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