You can’t afford to lose them. They’re your stars and your solid citizens. You wonder if they’re happy in your organization—and what might keep them there. To find out, you could:
A. Conduct a survey—then try to guess who said what.
B. Take note of their latest tattoos. Is your company logo among them?
C. Ask, “What will keep you here?”
The correct answer is C. It’s the opening line of a great stay interview, and it could make the difference between keeping and losing your best people.
Worried that your talented people will want things you can’t deliver, like more money or a big promotion? Beverly Kaye and Sharon Jordan-Evans have a simple four-step process for dealing with that. Not sure how to get started? They provide dozens of suggested questions and icebreakers. Think you don’t have time? They offer all kinds of creative time-saving options for where, when, and how you can do stay interviews.
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About the Author
Sharon Jordan-Evans is president of the Jordan Evans Group and is a pioneer in the field of employee engagement and retention. She is a sought-after keynote speaker for Fortune 500 companies such as American Express, Boeing, Disney, Microsoft, Lockheed, Monster, and Universal Studios.
Read an Excerpt
Hello Stay Interviews, Goodbye Talent Loss
By BEVERLY KAYE, SHARON JORDAN-EVANS
Berrett-Koehler Publishers, Inc.Copyright © 2015 Beverly Kaye and Sharon Jordan-Evans
All rights reserved.
* Why bother? What's in it for you?
You're busy, perhaps busier than you've ever been in your life. Why would you consider adding one more item to your overwhelming to-do list? Why take the time and make the effort to conduct stay interviews?
The answer is that you should conduct stay interviews because you want to:
* better understand all of your employees. What makes them unique and special? What do they bring to the team? And what do they want more of ... or less of?
* demonstrate that you value them as human beings, that you care. This assumes, of course, you actually do care.
* encourage them to stay on your team. It's very expensive to lose them. You want them to stay, both physically and psychologically. You want them to love coming to work with you and for you. You want them to bring their creativity, energy, and effort with them.
The Cost of Loss
* You've already seen the numbers. You know, the ones that tell you how much it costs when a talented employee walks out your door. It's been well documented that it costs 70 percent to 400 percent of an employee's annual salary to replace him or her. Some of those costs are easy to measure and are sometimes called "hard costs." Think about one talented person you lost recently. What did it cost your organization to replace her? Did you:
* recruit on job boards or run Internet ads?
* hire a headhunter?
* pay a referral fee?
* cover candidates' interview expenses, such as airlines, hotels, meals, or cabs?
* commit to a larger salary or give a sign-on bonus to the new recruit?
* offer a moving allowance?
It adds up.
Soft Costs Are Costlier
* Then there are the harder-to-measure soft costs. These represent the more subtle effects and costs of talent lost. Which of these have you seen? And what did it really cost you and your organization?
You'll lose time interviewing.
If you weren't interviewing all those candidates for the job your terrific employee left, what would you be doing instead? You'd be building, selling, designing, leading, brainstorming, connecting, teaching ... and more. We rest our case.
Productivity plummets during a job search.
You start losing money the moment your talented employees disengage. Instead of working for you, they're updating their résumés, logging on to job boards and social media, responding to potential employers, interviewing, negotiating, accepting the new job—and then celebrating. Their departure is a pricey proposition.
When someone leaves, the work doesn't.
Work doesn't go away just because the person handling it leaves. It simply gets put on hold or redistributed until a replacement is found. And very often that replacement never materializes. The image of a hamster on a treadmill is all too accurate. The result is burnout and lower morale for all those who've stayed.
When one goes, others follow.
Talented people find greener grass and then call their buddies, enticing them to follow. This happens even more often today, particularly among younger workers, who highly value both flexibility and friendships.
They'll take their brilliance and (perhaps) your customers with them.
Have you ever had a loyal customer follow you to your next job? What did that cost the organization you left? And what about the brilliance and the institutional knowledge that wanders out the door with that person you cannot afford to lose? Tally that.
No one enters fully ready.
How long does it take to teach new employees the ropes? How long before they know how to navigate your organization, talk to your customers, integrate with other business units, or move an idea? Meanwhile, the team carries the load ... at what cost?
New hires don't always measure up.
It's a risk you take when you're replacing a great employee. If the new hire isn't as productive, personable, or knowledgeable as the one you lost, what is the cost?
Run the numbers
There's only so much you can do without the people you need to get the job done. There's only so far you can reach, only so many fires you can put out, and only so many projects you can take on. The next time you wonder whether stay interviews are worth your time and effort, run the numbers. Calculate both the hard and the soft costs of talent loss. Then call your employees in and find out what will keep them engaged and on your team. Do you wonder how to do that? Read on.CHAPTER 2
Is It Art or Science?
* Is the stay interview an art or a science? It's both.
The best stay interviews are a perfect blend of two things:
[1.] The person you bring to it. That's about your authenticity, attitude, and mind-set.
[2.] The process, tools, and action steps you use. We're giving you some of those in this book.
Great stay interviews require your genuine caring and curiosity.
They also involve creating just the right questions, given your style and the employee's. They require anticipating what your talented employees might ask of you and carefully preparing for any hard-to-deliver-on requests. And they include listening artfully as people tell you what matters most to them.
A Stay Interview by Any Other Name
* You might be thinking that this sounds like the once-a-year conversations you're required to have with your employees. But is it really? Or is that annual (often mandatory) conversation actually a performance appraisal? You know, where you list what they've done well, where they've fallen short, and what you hope they'll do differently next year.
Or perhaps it's an individual development planning discussion. These conversations focus on what your employees want to learn next.
Or maybe it's a career discussion? Chats about careers are often about employees' career goals. It's a discussion about next steps.
The stay interview might include components of every one of these types of conversations. When you ask a question like "What will keep you here?," the answer might prompt a discussion about career, performance, or learning opportunities. But the dialogue often goes well beyond those topics. It could include discussions of work/life balance concerns, or how to manage conflict with a teammate, or what your employees really want and need from you.
"What will keep you here? What might entice you away?" These are the most powerful stay interview questions, the granddaddies of them all. Until you try them, you won't believe the positive impact they can have on the talented people you hope to keep on your team. And you'll be amazed at the new information you'll receive.
Beyond those questions, there are dozens of other terrific queries you can use, depending on variables such as your relationship with this person, the organization's culture, the situation at hand, your goals for the conversation, your comfort level, and your experience with stay interviews.
Some of Our Favorites
* Here are a few of our favorite questions and the reasons why we like them.
"What about your job makes you jump out of bed in the morning?" This question conjures up an image immediately and gets your employee thinking about why he's excited about going to work. It is an unexpected question about job satisfaction, and it typically elicits some fascinating responses, such as "The project I'm working on" or "Seeing my favorite client" or "Handling a tough problem" or "I love my colleagues." You will learn more about your employee just by asking this question.
"What makes you hit the snooze button?" What a safe way to ask someone what she does not like as much about her job! Employees have answered this question in diverse and informative ways, such as "I'm just not an early-morning person." Perhaps you could flex just a bit regarding her start time, or allow her to catch up on e-mails from home and then hit the freeway after rush hour. Another talented employee said he dreaded Monday morning staff meetings and delayed his trek to work for as long as possible. Could that staff meeting be shorter, better planned, or moved to another time?
"If you were to win the lottery and resign, what would you miss the most about your job?" Who doesn't dream about winning the lottery? Yet most of us, truth be told, would miss something about our job if we were to leave. Many employees will answer, "I'd miss the people most." Yet others stay on the job despite the people! Think how valuable it is to know who wants what.
"What do you want to learn this year?" He could answer, "Nothing. Nope, don't want to learn anything this year." (Hope you don't have more than one of these folks on your team.) The question elicits fascinating responses that can help you gauge employees' desire to learn, in general, and also can surface ideas for enriching their jobs.
"Does work give you back as much as it takes out of you?" Wow—now there's a powerful question! What's your answer to it? And what would we learn about you based on that answer?
* "If you had a magic wand, what would be the one thing you would change about this department/team/ organization?"
* "As your manager, what could I do a little more of or a little less of?"
* "What can we do to support your career goals?"
* "How important is your work to you? Why?"
* "What makes for a great day?"
* "Do you get enough recognition? How do you like to be recognized?"
* "'I love it!' When was the last time you said this about your job? This morning? Last week? You can't remember when?"
* "What do you wish you had known before you took this job?"
* "What has been a pleasant surprise?"
* "If you had a friend coming to work here, what would you tell him?"
One manager asks, "What's your favorite candy?" Then he has that candy on hand for times when he wants to show appreciation for a job well done. How's that for an engagement tactic?
* Some of you are now ready to have stay interviews with your talented people. Others have asked us to share some sentence starters to kick-start these conversations. We've categorized these according to what your goals for the stay interview might be and what you hope to learn about your talented employee.
Empower the employee.
* "I'd like to know what you would like to talk about ..."
* "Let's plan our time together ..."
* "I hope you'll feel free to initiate these chats in the future ..."
Double-check what you know.
* "From our past conversations, it would appear ..."
* "It seems you really like to ..."
* "Last time we talked, you mentioned ..."
Find out something entirely new.
* "It would help me to understand better ..."
* "We've never talked about your ..."
* "You know, I really don't know how you ..."
* "Have you ever thought about ..."
Inquire about putting an action in motion.
* "If you could do X, would that cause you to ..."
* "What if you were to ..."
* "What if I could ..."
* "What if you could ..."
* "What if nothing changed around ..."
Learn about an attitude or feeling.
* "So how do you feel about ..."
* "How would you feel if you took on ..."
* "Would things change for you if ..."
Confirm whether an idea might work.
* "So if I were to do ... you would ..."
* "So if we could do ... that would increase your ..."
* "So let me recap: we're saying that ..."
* "Are you committed to ..."
Questions are important. Listening to the answers is even more important. Beyond listening, your response (both verbal and nonverbal) is crucial. Answers such as "That's unrealistic" or "Tell me why you are worth that" will halt the dialogue and cause employees to clam up—maybe permanently. Instead, tell the truth about the barriers to saying yes, and at the same time demonstrate that you care enough to get creative and to go the extra mile for your talent. Then dive deeply to find solutions that work for you, for them, and for the organization.
Follow the Blinking Word
* Are you often praised for being a terrific listener? If so, skip this section. But if not, read on.
Everyone agrees that active listening is foundational to effective management. That's why building that skill is core to every good leadership development program. Yet managers continually struggle with it. Some have simply not practiced it enough or had honest feedback about how often and how effectively they listen. Others let their fast-paced workdays squeeze out listening time. They rely on assumptions and quickly push to conclusions. They might save time, but they often miss the message or the meaning behind the message.
We have a recommendation. We suggest that you follow the blinking word. As your talented employees answer your questions, you'll notice words that "blink." Ask questions about those words. Here's how it worked for one manager and his talented employee.
MANAGER: What's the best part of your day?
EMPLOYEE: I really like it when I get to solve a complex problem, one where I need to bring in colleagues to really get to the bottom of it.
Which words blink, or stand out? Which pique curiosity or invite more discussion? Some of you will say the words that blink in this example are complex or problem or complex problem. Others will hear bring in colleagues as the blinking words. Any of these words could work.
Notice how this manager follows the blinking word and dives in —and then watches again for the blinking words and follows one with a question.
MANAGER: Say more about your interest in solving complex problems. Not everyone enjoys that. When did that start for you?
EMPLOYEE: I guess that ever since I was a kid I've enjoyed it. I used to love those puzzles, like Rubik's Cube, that drive some people crazy. My friends and I would sometimes work together on it. Other times we'd compete and see who could finish first.
MANAGER: Ah—so the puzzles and competition started in your childhood. How do those experiences translate to your current job?
EMPLOYEE: Well, first of all, I have plenty of Rubik's Cubes in this job! And my colleagues can often help me solve the problem. That's great, and there's an element of fun for me when I'm collaborating with others.
The manager has so many possible paths to follow now. The secret is to not move to a completely different question (or topic) right away but to truly stay the course, listen for another blinking word, and dive in. Employees will feel heard and better understood in an exchange like this.
One manager asked, "What if I ask the wrong question and go down the wrong path?" Don't worry. Your employee will help you course-correct, as in this next example.
MANAGER: So, would you like to have more of your work be team-based rather than solo? If so, how much more?
EMPLOYEE: Well, not necessarily. If a problem is pretty straightforward I'd rather just do it and get it behind me. I want others in the mix when the problem is complex and many heads are better than one.
MANAGER: Great. This is so helpful. Let's continue talking about which projects you'd like to team on and which you'd rather do on your own.
Notice how the manager used primarily open questions while following the blinking words. Open questions begin with words such as how, why, where, when, and tell me about. They are designed to avoid yes-or-no responses, which often lead to a dead end. As you follow the blinking word, you go deeper into your employees' situations. Meanwhile, they feel listened to. They believe that you care about their interests and goals.
The blinking word technique will encourage you to listen empathetically, at the deepest level. You will not be able to tune in and out and still follow the blinking word. (P.S. Do try this at home. Your spouse, kids, and friends will be pleasantly surprised at what a good listener you have become.)
The Art/Science Combo
* Great stay interviews are a combination of art and science, questioning and listening. They're not difficult, especially if you're interested in others. Take your genuine caring and curiosity to the stay interview. Wonder about and then ask your talented employees what will keep them engaged and on your team. Listen carefully, follow the blinking words, and dive in. You'll be amazed at what you learn about the people you can least afford to lose. If this now sounds possible but you still have some reservations, read on.CHAPTER 3
What's Holding You Back?
* What's holding you back? Are you worried about what they'll ask for?
Picture this: Your boss calls you in and says, "You are so important to me and to this team. I probably don't tell you that often enough. But I can't imagine losing you. So I'd like to know, what will keep you here ... and happy? And what might entice you away?"
Have you ever had a boss do that, perhaps in almost those exact words? If so, how did it feel? We've asked hundreds of people that question, and in response we hear things like, "It felt great. I felt important. I felt valued." One manager raised his hand and said, "It felt a little late. It was in the exit interview."
Excerpted from Hello Stay Interviews, Goodbye Talent Loss by BEVERLY KAYE, SHARON JORDAN-EVANS. Copyright © 2015 Beverly Kaye and Sharon Jordan-Evans. Excerpted by permission of Berrett-Koehler Publishers, Inc..
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
Table of ContentsPREFACE
CHAPTER ONE: Why Bother?
CHAPTER TWO: Is It Art or Science?
CHAPTER THREE: What’s Holding You Back?
CHAPTER FOUR: What Else Is Worrying You?
CHAPTER FIVE: Do They Trust You Enough?
CHAPTER SIX: Will You Make the Time?
CHAPTER SEVEN: Have You Noticed Lately?
CHAPTER EIGHT: Does Practice Make Perfect?
CHAPTER NINE: How’s That Working for You?
SKILL BUILDING BEYOND THE BOOK
ABOUT THE AUTHORS
ABOUT THE ILLUSTRATOR
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
This book is a very good resource to help you retain talent. Practical, easy, and effective "How To's". A bit rushed, maybe needs more substance or "meat" on each scenario but definitely a very good start to get conversations going. If you don't have a retention plan established this is a good start. A little pricey for a "little guide".