I’ve been a fan of stay interviews for a long time, but in the last
couple of weeks I’ve seen questions from people about what a stay
interview is and comments that they’ve never heard of stay interviews.
Since I’m a fan, I figured I would share a little bit of information
about stay interviews and why I think it’s a great leadership tool that
you should be using regularly.
What Is a Stay Interview?
its core, a stay interview is a conversation with your employees to
learn why they stay at Oracle and with you. That is, what are the
specific things that contribute to an employee’s decision to remain in
their current position rather than move to a different position or
company? These factors might be things like salary, ability to work from
home, free soda, fitness centers on location, FMLA access, great
insurance, ability to try new things, going to OpenWorld, etc.
The point is, you want to understand what motivates each employee so you can do more of that for each unique person.
How Do I Initiate a Stay Interview?
is an easy one! You simply make an appointment with one of your
employees and say “You’re a key contributor on the team, and I’d like to
know more about what you like about your job and why you choose to stay
Honestly, if you’re not in the habit of talking to your employees (and there are books written on that
topic!), your employees will probably hesitate and wonder what kind of
trick you’re playing. Your best option is to be honest and simply tell
them “I read about something called a stay interview, and it got me
thinking about what makes our team members stay here.”
employees may be a bit jaded from previous managers who simply didn’t
care, but if you keep trying, they will respect your effort and open up
What do I say during a Stay Interview?
If you google stay interview questions,
you will receive 271 million hits. Since looking through 271M hits
isn't really feasible for most people, I've identified a dozen common
questions that you might consider:
- What about your job makes you excited to come to work?
- If you changed your role completely, what are the things that you would miss most?
job from your past would you go back to if you had to stay in it for an
extended period of time? Why did you choose that job?
- What skills do you have that you are not using but would like to?
- What have you felt good about accomplishing in your current position?
- What bothers you the most about your work?
- What kind of feedback would you like about your performance that you are not currently receiving?
- What development opportunities would you like that can push you past your current role?
- If you could spend 10-20% of your time exploring something related to your job, what would that be and why?
- What do you like to do outside of work? What are you passionate about?
- What is one thing that you would change about your current position, team or company if you could?
- What can I do more of less of as your manager?
in mind that you primary job is to listen…and maybe take some notes.
Whatever you do, do NOT rebut anything your employee is telling you.
Nothing will shut down the conversation faster than you saying “But
that’s not true. We really do (fill in the blank).” Your goal is simply
to understand what motivates and engages your employees and to let your
employees know that you recognize and appreciate their contributions.
be aware, that this is not the time to promise anything to your
employees. You are simply gathering information to help you understand
your employees and identify what keeps them satisfied.
What do I do with the information I get?
first step is to simply review your notes and ensure you understand
what you heard. From there, determine what you can do to support those
things that motivate your employees. Perhaps you have an employee who is
motivated by the opportunities for professional development. Maybe you
can approve their attending a conference, working with an extended team
on a cross-functional project, or securing a presentation at a local
User’s Group conference. The point is, you don’t know that you should be
doing these things if you don’t know that your employee is motivated by
You should also be sure that your Stay
Interview isn’t a one-time event. Your employees have given you great
information. You need to have continued conversations with them to make
sure that both of you are on the right track. As you have these
conversations with your employees, you will be building trust in those
relationships, which can open even more dialogue about the team and its
Stay Interviews are
not difficult – you are simply having a conversation to learn more about
your employees and why they continue to work for you. There are no
judgments, no promises, no pressures – just an effort to understand what
motivates your employees.
One thing to consider – conduct Stay
Interviews with all your employees within a set timeframe (within a
couple of weeks). This allows you to see any trends across all employees
and implement any changes right away rather than letting something
negative sit within your team for an extended period of time.
you’re concerned that a Stay Interview might be difficult, think about
the best performer on your team. Do you know what keeps him or her in
their position? What might you do if you knew that information? Start
with this one employee. My guess is that your conversation will inspire
you to do the same for all of your employees – and your employee will
talk about what a great leader they have!