If you've never been thrown for a loop by having one of your best people decide to accept another job, you are one of the lucky ones. It is likely to happen eventually, but handled the right way, you may be able to prevent it — or at least avoid the element of surprise.
I recently wrote about how to fire a physician or staff member the right way. One of the tips I mentioned was using exit interviews to learn from your mistakes. When someone leaves your practice — or is asked to leave — it's important to try to pinpoint what went wrong or what needs weren't being met. An exit interview is a great way to get candid feedback that can help you improve the environment for your current staff and any new team members.
But even more important than an exit interview is a stay interview. Not only does it improve your chances of retention, but it takes the surprise out of the equation.
Questions to ask in a stay interview
If you want your best people to stick around, you need to know what keeps them engaged in their job — basically what helps them to stay — and what might cause them to start looking for a job elsewhere. At CompHealth, we conduct stay interviews with our people every six months or so. Here are the types of questions we ask:
• What makes for a great day at work?
• On a scale of 1-10, how happy are you with your job?
• Does the job that was described to you before you started match with what you have experienced?
• Do you feel like you have a clear understanding of the company's goals and how your contribution fits into those goals?
• Do you know where you stand in terms of your performance?
• What has been most impactful to your personal development and success?
• What has been your proudest moment/accomplishment recently?
• What is the most challenging part of your role?
• If you could wave a wand and change something here, what would it be?
• If another employer called you tomorrow, what would they have to say to get you to leave?
• Who was the best leader you ever worked for? Why were they the best?
• What are you most passionate about at work? Outside of work?
• What could we do to create a better work experience for you?
Stay interviews aren't always easy
Asking for candid feedback can be tough. As a leader, it's not always easy to hear negative responses, and conversations can be difficult when a team member shares a concern that can't be resolved quickly or easily. Luckily, I've found that momentary uneasiness gives way to long-term benefits.
Not only do stay interviews allow you to get a better understanding of what keeps your people motivated in their work, but it creates more trust in the relationship. When you regularly ask team members to share honest feedback, they'll know that you're listening and that you value their opinion. Thanks to these interviews, we've saved several high performers that were potentially at risk of leaving and also uncovered opportunities for improvement that have benefited all of our people.
Unfortunately, a stay interview doesn't always save the day. Your people may still choose to pursue a job with different hours, higher pay, or a quicker commute. But when it comes time for the exit interview, you can feel confident that you offered the best experience possible — and who knows — maybe that great employee will get to her new job, realize what she left behind, and come right back.