Convincing Teams to Stay during Times of Change

A "stay interview" can help you identify what will keep your employees invested in the work, and demonstrate that they matter

You’re in the middle of a change initiative, and you know it’s going to be challenging: your team will have to learn new skills, navigate the unknown, and tolerate the discomfort and loss that come with change. So how do you convince them to stay when they have other options?

Given the competitive job market, it’s entirely possible you’ve already received the dreaded “can we talk” prompt from one of your top performers. That’s why it’s so important to give them a reason to stay before they put in their two-week notice. Research shows that just over half of employees said that in their last three months on the job before they quit, no one—including their manager—had talked to them about how they were feeling in their role. You have a real opportunity to impact how your employee feels about their role, and if they chose to stick around. 

One of the simplest ways to do this is with a “stay” interview. Think of it as the opposite of an exit interview: instead of asking why an employee is leaving, you’re finding out what keeps them engaged. If you’re worried you’ll say the wrong thing or over-promise, be upfront. Let your employee know they’re valued, and that you want to make a proactive effort to keep them. We’ve put together some simple prompts to guide your conversation:

  1. What have been the most exciting parts of your work over the past year? Understand what they like about their role in order to understand why they might be likely to stay on your team. 
  2. What opportunities for growth would support your long term-goals or interests? Explore the growth goals that their current role cannot meet. This gives you a chance to evaluate if and how you can provide these opportunities.
  3. What has good support looked like for you, and what do you need from me in order to feel more supported? Create space for employees to share uncomfortable conversations with you, such as needing help with conflict management or fighting for a promotion on their behalf.
  4. If you had a magic wand that could change one thing about your job, how would you use that power? Here’s your employee’s chance to speak up about the biggest pain point they have, allowing you to address and prioritize your efforts.

Once you’ve discussed these with your employee, repeat back what you heard, and let them know when you plan to follow up. With your improved understanding of your employee’s growth goals, motivations, and wants, consider the following actions:

Follow-up is key: take small steps to make real progress and check back in later. If you’re not sure where to start, try utilizing this tool with the one team member you can’t imagine losing, or an employee you’re sensing may be on their way out.

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Convincing Teams to Stay during Times of Change
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