leadership

Stay Interviews and You

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It’s safe to say that we’re all familiar with Exit Interviews—when an employee makes the decision to leave their current position and company, they are interviewed about their reasons for doing so, ways the company can improve, what the company has done well, and so on. But this does little to actually help the company in question. After all, that employee has already left. There isn’t any way to try and rectify the situations that led to their decision to seek new employment. That’s why I’m a huge proponent of conducting a Stay Interview. 

So. What is a Stay Interview? And why are they so important? 

Like an Exit Interview, Stay Interviews are conversations between management and current employees. However, unlike the Exit Interview, Stay Interviews give you the chance to retain an employee instead of having to go through the process of losing a valued team member, interviewing and finding a new person, and training them. The results from these interviews will give you knowledge about what your business is doing well, what can be tweaked and adjusted, and, most importantly, keep valued employees from leaving for different opportunities. 

Now more than ever, employees want to know that they’re being heard, acknowledged, and appreciated. People respond to collaboration more than heavy-handed—or, conversely, extremely hands-off—direction. Gone are the days where the boss simply says, “If you don’t hear from me, assume things are going well.” Stay Interviews go a long, long way to showing your employees that you don’t only care how their business is going, but that you are invested in their development within your corporation. 

Stay Interviews are also a fantastic way to pinpoint members of your team who are looking to move up in the ranks but aren’t sure how, or what it is precisely that you are looking for in regard to promotion. For instance, I can recall many years ago when I was a naïve teenager in one of my first jobs. I asked my boss what I needed to do to get promoted. His response? “You don’t get promoted for turning the lights on around here.” That was it! After, I felt like he didn’t care at all about my growth and development. Whenever I have a Stay Interview, I keep that feeling in mind. Employee feedback is crucial to your growing business, now more than ever. It can help you find talent that you might have otherwise overlooked or brushed past in favor of more pressing issues. 

It's a new year, and there’s no better time to try out some new approaches in your business. If you’ve been looking to shake things up and reduce turnover in your business, I can’t recommend Stay Interviews enough. The questions you ask, of course, will depend on your business and leadership communication style. The questions I ask might not be useful to you or your situation, and yours might not be relevant to mine! A quick google search will land you an abundance of options. Here are a few to get you started: 

  • What kind of feedback or recognition would you like about your performance that you aren’t currently receiving?

  • What opportunities for self-improvement would you like to have that go beyond your current role? 

  • What talents, interests, or skills do you have that we haven’t made the most of? 

  • What have you felt good about accomplishing in your job and in your time here? 

Stay Interviews are proactive and will help you reduce costs related to rehiring employees. Even better, they will help you keep the team that you already have, as happy employees are less likely to go looking for new opportunities. Sounds like a win/win situation to me!

Faith Over Fear: Empowering Employees to Better Your Business

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Authority.  It is the confidence and power to act and make decisions.  It is, at the basic level, empowerment.  Generally, we think of ‘authority’ as something that belongs to the boss.  However, every time that the boss decides to delegate a task or assignment, they are also delegating the authority to make decisions on that task.  We often think of effective leadership as a hands-on activity.  But if we keep our hands and thoughts spread over too many tasks, we’re not only undervaluing and overworking ourselves—we’re doing the same to our employees.  It can be a daunting task to let go of the wheel and let someone else drive for a while.  So how can we as leaders empower our employees while making sure we stay secure in our role as leaders?

 

Believe in Yourself

A common worry among leaders is that by empowering their employees, those employees will manage to outperform you.  It’s easy to fall into the trap that an employee doing an exemplary job translates into a commentary about the shortcomings of your own ability.  Really, the truth is the exact opposite.  I am always thrilled when my employees operate at a level that sometimes outpaces my own abilities.  It builds me a reputation as a leader who surrounds myself with competent and empowered people.  Before delegating, simply ask yourself: Who gets the most work done in their area?  Who has created a record of hard work and service?  I’ve found that the more I empower my people, the longer that list grows, and the more options I have in delegating tasks throughout my team.

 

The Long Haul

The nature of running a business is to accept that there will be some level of turnover.  However, empowering employees and giving them more responsibilities, both big-picture and day-to-day, can create a sense of ownership in your team’s work.  They are more likely to find a higher rate of satisfaction with their job, and put more effort in.  When team members within your company feel that they have a say and that their voices are heard, they’re more likely to stay working within your company versus going out and seeking a new opportunity.  This will also help to build a reputation for your business, and this reputation can in turn help attract promising new talent to join your corporate team.

 

Taking a Step Back

Still, it can be hard to take your hands off the wheel and take a step back.  Most of us started in positions where our bosses once empowered us—that’s how we ended up in leadership roles.  You had the technical know-how and skills as an employee.  Now, your job performance is judged almost entirely on making decisions and getting work done through others.  There’s more security in doing a task yourself versus passing it along to a member of your team.  When these anxieties happen, remind yourself that it’s good your team is more proficient at a task than you are.  They are the ones doing the job on a regular basis, who are neck deep in the thick of things.  Your job is now the big picture—by empowering your team to take greater responsibility, you are ensuring that they are able to handle the details.

With all this in mind, it’s important to remember that your team may be hesitant to take on more responsibility at first.  For instance, I once had an employee who was reluctant to make definitive decisions.  He was unused to the level of empowerment I was wishing to give him. He asked permission to do something, and I got out of my chair, laid on the floor, folded my arms across my chest, and asked him, “If I were dead, what would you do?”  I told him his answer sounded good, and he went on his way.  This is the real test of leadership—if your employees need you to keep the company running, something has gone wrong.  A better business run like a well-oiled machine, and through empowering your team you can ensure that it will last the test of time, no matter what complications arise along the way.

Walking the Walk: Leaders as Role Models

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Sometimes, as we find ourselves caught up in the daily grind, we lose track of a simple fact: leaders, you are a role model!  Your employees look to you and judge your actions as a reflection on the entire company.  Your team follows the example that you are setting, which further builds the company’s reputation in a community.  So, today, we take the time to reflect on how leaders can not only talk the talk of being a boss, but walk the walk as an effective role model.

Attitude is Everything

Maybe we don’t talk about it enough, but acting in a leadership role is hard.  You constantly find yourself caught between your employees, co-workers, and upper management.  Keeping everyone content is a constant balancing act, and spending that much time up on the high-wire can be exhausting!  But it’s important to still keep your head up and maintain a positive outlook.  Don’t put down upper management and co-workers in front of your employees.  Remember: you are the boss.  If you spend your days plodding around your business like Eeyore and claiming that the sky is due to fall any day now, your employees will respond in kind.  So if you would like to see a shift towards the positive in your workplace, start by taking a long look at your own attitude.

Maintain Positive Relationships

Along with keeping a can-do attitude thriving in your workplace, it’s important to deal with any conflicts that arise quickly, calmly, and professionally.  Say, for instance, that you find yourself clashing with another manager.  If you air your grievances publicly, it will only be a matter of time before your employees pick up on the unrest.  Soon, your team and the other manager’s team will find themselves constantly at odds.  While a little good-natured competition can be healthy, the last thing you want to do is accidentally encourage open hostilities within your business.  Take some initiative and try to foster positive workplace relationships.

Building Trust

As a leader, you want your team to trust you, and you want to be able to trust them in turn.  There is no way to build that trust without hard work, accountability, and integrity.  But in order for your employees to display these qualities, you must first model them yourself.  Work hard—pitch in when your team needs a hand and make it clear from the start that there is no assignment beneath you.  Most importantly, make sure that you do a good job at those assignments and hold yourself accountable.  Your employees will measure themselves against your example.  That is why you must conduct yourself with considerable integrity.  If you ask your team to follow a set of rules, you must also be ready to follow those rules yourself.

With a little intention, you can soon become a role model for your team.  By setting yourself up as a quality leader, you can trust your team to go above and beyond.  After all, they’ll be following your example.

John Graci is an author, consultant, and leadership adviser with more than 20 years of management experience in production, office, union and non-union environments. Connect with John to speak at you next corporate event. Graci Leadership Solutions  Phone: 612-708-1939 Email: info@johngraci.com