Years ago, when I was new to leadership, I recall telling my boss that I was worried that one of my team members wanted my job. I remember feeling a bit threatened at the time, but his response changed my perspective forever. He asked if the staff member had talent and potential, which she did. He told me that that was a good sign and said, “When you see that level of ambition, paired with true talent, it’s your responsibility to nurture it.” He explained that as a key differentiator between managing and leadership. This would become what I call a “stay interview”.
I took those words to heart and began holding one-to-one discussions where I asked each team member about their goals and how I could help them to achieve those goals. From there, I encouraged them to lead projects or assist me with things that would help them hone skills that would position them for the next step toward their goals.
The Stay Interview
Today I still call these discussions stay interviews. And since that time, I have refined the stay interview. I have taught the methods to thousands of leaders with great results.
During one of my very first stay interviews, I asked one of the nurses about her goals and how I could help. She got tears in her eyes and said, “I’ve worked here for 15 years and no one has ever asked me that question.”
What a sad statement about the culture. I vowed then to always help team members use their talents and advance their skills. Even if it meant I prepared them to move on. That has never failed me.
Ask your employees about their goals. Help them to hone skills that make the department and organization better. If they stay, you’ve got a productive, high-performing individual. If they move on, you’ll be building a reputation as the leader everybody wants to work for.