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Proactive Leadership = Greater Retention

Proactive Leadership = Greater Retention

The Importance of Stay Interviews

Stay InterviewA friend once told me that for whatever reason her manager ended an annual evaluation meeting by mentioning the company sees her as a low risk to leave the organization any time soon. Who says that?

As a leader, much of your time is spent putting out fires and dealing with people who are ‘below the water line’, underperforming team members. What if you focused most of your attention on the employees above and well above the water line? These people need and deserve your attention the most. They are the most valuable components to your team and organization, yet you spend the least amount of time with them.

It may not seem like they need much attention because they are performing at a high level, but it’s human nature to want to feel valued. You are wired to gravitate to and give your 100% for those who value you the most.

As a leader, here are a few things you can incorporate into your management practice to show your most valuable employees you REALLY value them, even if the company can’t always show it.

Conduct ‘Stay’ Interviews – Organizations will often do Exit Interviews when an employee is leaving the company, where the information gathered is often too little too late. How about doing a ‘Stay Interview’ at least once a year with your team members where the main focus of the conversation is learning from the team member what is working and not working for them in the organization and what will keep them there in the long run. This is not a time to give feedback on performance, but a time to ask questions and listen.

Focus on Engagement – Simply put, high engagement = high retention. Employee engagement is the extent to which employees feel passionate about their jobs, are committed to the organization and put discretionary effort into their work. Here is a great list from Forbes on 6 things leaders can do to better engage their employees.

Employee engagement opportunities are always top of mind for proactive leaders.

Proactive LeadershipAddress Individuals Not Teams – A team needs to be addressed as a team on occasion but your words are more valuable when spoken to an individual. When an individual is addressed, that’s when the real listening starts. When you speak to everyone, you speak to no one. If your team is facing a challenge, it is not usually the whole team that is struggling. A proactive leader quickly identifies, understands, addresses, and supports the specific individuals in the team that are causing the challenge. A team is just a group of individuals, often with different needs.

If you don’t have the time to address the individual needs of your team members, your team is too big!

Proactive leadership aims to keep small problems small by constantly (not once a year) paying attention to and addressing the individual needs and performance of each team member.

By the way, my friend who was a low risk to leave was shocked and offended by the comment and left the company a few months later.

Action: In the next 4 weeks, conduct a Stay Interview with each of your direct reports.

Until next time… Embrace the Adventure


Shawn Stratton is an international leadership and team building consultant, professional speaker, bestselling author and Ironman competitor.

Click here to learn more about how Shawn can help your organization.

© 2016 Shawn Stratton. All rights reserved.