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Retain Top Talent with One Conversation

A “stay” interview is the opposite of an exit interview. Instead of learning about why someone has decided to leave your company, it’s about going upstream and gaining clarity on what will make your employee stay with you and your organization.

I’ve briefly written on stay interviews in the past, and I believe expanding on how to hold a successful one is critical to building a good relationship with your team. A stay interview helps you connect with an employee outside of a regular one-on-one meeting so you can learn about them and their goals. Take them to coffee or on a walk around your company’s neighborhood — or, if you have a remote team, host a virtual coffee meeting where you’re each at a coffee shop in your respective location. Your primary goal is to learn about where your employee sees themselves in the next few years and what they want for their career.

Start by asking the following two questions, and then build on what you hear:

What skills would you like to develop?

How can I support you?

When I discuss stay interviews with leaders, many hesitate because they’re concerned they won’t have the opportunities their employee is searching for. But these questions aren’t meant to be approached as if the result is offering your employee a promotion or a raise. Instead, look at these conversations as an opportunity to learn about your employees’ goals and to guide them to success.

Notice I did not advise you to ask your employee, “How are you looking to grow?” There is a distinct