MANAGING THE EXCHANGE DURING INTERVIEW
Opening remarks during the stay interview are focused on three objectives: informing the employee about the meeting’s purpose, narrowing the employee’s potential suggestions by limiting expectations, and ensuring that the employee understands that words spoken during the interview in no way constitute a legally binding contract.
Finnegan classifies employees into five types: satisfied, mystery, low performing, overly ambitious, and high performing. In each interview, the manager must be sure to probe deeply and solve completely. The following five scenarios illustrate how a stay interview can be used with nearly any type of employee:
1. Satisfied. Shelia is a competent employee who has never expressed dissatisfaction with her sales position. During her stay interview, Shelia says she gains energy from coming to her job each day and wants to remain in her current position. Management’s best move in this scenario is to repeat back Shelia’s key points to her and close the interview by encouraging her to come forward in the future if she should have any issues, ideas, or concerns.
2. Mystery. David was hired as a computer programmer after graduating from a top-tier university. Management believed he would be a hard worker and key hire. David’s stay interview reveals that he is uncomfortable with people but deeply motivated by programming and by gaining new knowledge. Management should provide David with new opportunities to expand his knowledge.
3. Low performer. Robert is a department head at an assisted-living center who is a plodder and whose job is hanging in the balance. Robert’s stay interview shows that he has lost faith in the company’s mission. Management must use this opportunity to encourage Robert, and remind him that other roles exist in the company for employees who remain focused and motivated.
4. Ambitious. Tyler was hired six months prior for a call center team. A medium performer, Tyler shows ambitions to move into management. Tyler’s stay interview shows that he is hungry to move up in the company but lukewarm on making improvements in his performance. Management should provide Tyler with company resources related to increasing leadership skills, while also reminding Tyler of his obligations to master his current assignments.
5. High performer. Tanya is a prize employee who works in quality control. After only two years at the plant, she has become the de facto leader in the plant manager’s absence. During her stay interview, Tanya refers to a set of notes and offers a range of beneficial ideas to improve plant efficiency. In this scenario, management must accept that Tanya may be a continually challenging employee, but one that is highly valuable for ensuring managerial success.
The important takeaways from these scenarios are that some employees are content with things as they are; some have more ambition than loyalty; a stay interview can push a mediocre employee to a productive one simply by demonstrating management’s interest; some quiet employees have to be prodded for basic information; and high performers often have egos to match.