107: Stay Interviews with Dr. Beverly Kaye

By January 18, 2017Podcasts

 

Dr. Beverly Kaye discusses how to get great employees to stick around with “stay interviews” and more…whether the great employee is you or your direct reports!

You’ll Learn:

  1. Why should conduct a stay interview instead of an exit interview
  2. How to ask your manager for what you really need to stay
  3. The top reasons employees stay or go

About Beverly

Founder and Chairwoman of Career Systems International, Dr. Beverly Kaye is an international bestselling author and a leading authority in the world of modern workplace performance. She has dedicated her life’s work to helping individuals and organizations grow in a workplace that fosters greater commitment, fulfillment, and humanity.

Beverly Kaye and the CSI team provide cutting-edge and award-winning talent development solutions primarily to Fortune 1000 companies. Her work and research are distinguished and widely recognized for helping others discover greater meaning in their work and gain greater control over their career destinies. Dr. Kaye completed her graduate work at MIT’s Sloan School of Management and holds her doctorate from UCLA.

Items Mentioned in this Show:

Beverly Kaye Interview Transcript

Pete Mockaitis
Bev, thanks so much for joining us here on the How To Be Awesome At Your Job podcast.

Beverly Kaye
You’re welcome. Nice to join you.

Pete Mockaitis
Certainly. Well, it’s great to have you. And I was really enjoying this preparation particularly, because of all your fun book titles. They have a dash of clever and whimsy to them, such as Help Them Grow or Watch Them Go, or Love ‘Em or Lose ‘Em, or Hello Stay Interviews, Goodbye Talent Loss. I just got a kick out of these, and so tell me, is there a backstory to your approach on titling things, and what’s the name of your latest to come, and how do you think about all that?

Beverly Kaye
You know, it’s interesting. I work with a publisher who believes that the entire book should be told in the title. Not the subtitle, but the title.

Pete Mockaitis
Okay.

Beverly Kaye
And so the title has to capture everything. He goes, “Nowadays people are so crammed and so busy, they read the title, they turn the book over, look at the back cover maybe and say, ‘Got it.’” So with each title, I wanted the person who looked at the title to say, “Got it.” And as you just said, you love them or you lose them. Or you help them grow, or they’re going to go. You know, you try a stay interview or you’re going to lose talent. And the newest book that we just submitted is really using the title of a book I wrote 35 years ago, and that title is still like a slogan that I’ve used ever since, and others use. And the title is Up Is Not the Only Way.

Pete Mockaitis
Alright.

Beverly Kaye
And it is about career mobility, and the title again says it all – that managers and leaders and individual contributors have to know there are many more ways to grow in their career, other than up.

Pete Mockaitis
Okay. Well, thank you, and it does tell a story, ’cause I’m already sort of imagining lateral moves and mixing it up and side maneuvers and all that, so understood.

Beverly Kaye
I’m glad that you’re getting the image, because then we picked a good title.

Pete Mockaitis
Indeed. So can you tell us, one of your latest you’re talking about “stay interviews”. Can you tell us what does that term mean, and he premise behind it?

Beverly Kaye
Well, the term really came from the research we did for Love ‘Em or Lose ‘Em. And when we wrote Love ‘Em or Lose ‘Em, when we wanted it to be a grabber for leaders and managers. And for leaders and managers who were overwhelmed with the day to day. And so Sharon and I wrote that book actually three times and all three ways bored us to tears. And then we got the idea of organizing all our data according to the alphabet.
So Love ‘Em or Lose ‘Em is written around the 26 letters of the alphabet, and every letter stands for a strategy. And the first strategy was “A is for Ask”. Ask your people why they stay, and ask your people why they would go. And that put on so much as we made presentations on a global scale. And what I would love doing in my keynotes, and our trainers in their workshops is saying to managers in the room, “When do you say to employee, ‘What can I do to keep you?’” And everybody says, “At the exit interview.”
And then we say, “Well now, why do it at the exit interview? Why not do it at a stay interview? And why not do it frequently and often and get that data sooner, so that you can keep your people longer? Instead of the exit interview, when it’s usually too late.”

Pete Mockaitis
And that makes great sense sort of intuitively, like yes, we should do that. I’m wondering, is there some hard data that backs that up, in terms of maybe something you’ve seen with your clients or a case study or research that’s been published on this topic?

Beverly Kaye
There absolutely is. And we have been doing research on the subject of retention since the late 90s. And what we learned is employees will often say, “My manager never noticed. My manager didn’t realize that I was bored silly with my job. My manager never said, ‘How is it going?’ My manager never said, ‘What would you like me to do more to support you?’ And I finally gave up and left.”
And over and over and over again we got that data, and that’s what led us to say, “Hey, managers need to keep asking certain questions.” And once they recruit someone, they need to immediately start re-recruiting, and asking things like, “Is this what you came for? What are you getting that you don’t want? What are you getting that you’re thrilled about?” Etcetera. So it came from reading many many many of the exit interviews that people fill out, and interviewing people when they went to their next job.

Pete Mockaitis
That’s great. And so I’m curious to hear then – it seems very sensible and there’s hard data backing it up, yet this doesn’t seem to be, as far as I know, a tremendously common practice. Is that fair to say, or am I just not in the know here?

Beverly Kaye
Not, it’s not a common practice. And you know, what I often say is, this is all common sense that is uncommonly practiced. And isn’t that a shame?

Pete Mockaitis
Oh, it is.

Beverly Kaye
Like when I’m in front of an audience… Now my work is mainly big keynotes, but we have a team of trainers around the globe, we want managers to kind of knock themselves in the head and say, “That’s easy. I could do that. Why didn’t I think of that?” And I know that my company is delivering something good and right when a manager says, “Hey, I could do that”. That’s not rocket science. And none of this is. Stay interviews make complete sense, and we just have to remind managers to do it.

Pete Mockaitis
Alright, so you think that’s the main hold up? It’s just a little bit out of sight, out of mind? That they’re not thinking about it?

Beverly Kaye
I think it is. “You mean ask that question?” And then I’ll hear from managers, “Do I ask it of all my people, or just the ones I don’t want to lose?” I say, “Well, ideally all of your people, but if you are tight on time, start with the ones that are most critical.” And don’t just ask; ask and heaven forbid, listen to what the answer is. ‘Cause in that answer is your next question, or maybe a ‘to do’ item for you to do in collaboration with that employee.

Pete Mockaitis
That sounds great. So I’d love to hear, what are some answers that are common? Because I imagine there may be a bit of fear or resistance ’cause they’ll say, “Well, they’re just going to say they want a promotion or more money or more responsibility. I’m not equipped to offer that right now, so I don’t want to go there just yet.” But do you get many answers that are quite different than that, or how do you deal with that kind of tricky piece there?

Beverly Kaye
Well, we said to managers, “What keeps you from asking these simple questions?” And one of the things managers say is, “Well, if I ask a question, it’s going to put ideas in their heads.” And I want to say, “Duh, they already have those ideas. They’re already talking to their friends, they’re already belly aching about things that you do or that the company doesn’t give them. Why not check out what’s going on with them?”
Or managers say, “Well, it’s not my style to have that kind of conversation.” And I’d say, “Well you better make it your style. And if you’re uncomfortable, say to the employee, ‘Hey, I’m a technical guy, I’m not comfortable asking you these mushy kinds of questions, but I don’t want to lose you. So bear with me while I ask you some of those softer questions, ’cause boy, you are important to me, and I want to know what would make you pick up the telephone for a headhunter, and what could I do that I’m not thinking of?’”
So it’s interesting. And some managers say to me, “Gosh, if I asked a question like that, my employees would say, ‘What book did you just read?’” And I say, “Tell them you read a book. Tell them you listened to a podcast, and tell them you did it because you know how important their talent is to the team and you don’t want to lose them.”
And then managers say, “What if they ask me for something that I just can’t deliver on, like a raise?” And I say, “Then tell them the truth. Say, ‘I can’t deliver on that right now. Salaries are frozen; but boy, I really care about keeping you on my team and with this organization. What else matters, other than that raise? What other small things could I maybe do, that I don’t have to get permission for?” And if you’ll ask, “What else?” three or four times, you will get a list of things, a laundry list, that is important to people that some of which might be easy for you to grant.

Pete Mockaitis
Alright, excellent. Well, can you give us an example? Like what are some commonly occurring things that pop up when folks engage in these conversations?

Beverly Kaye
Well, maybe it’s, “Hey, there’s a conference going on that I would really love to attend. And if you could let me attend it, I’d come back and give a report to the whole team.” Or maybe it’s, “Hey, the big problem with me is my kid just got accepted for the pro soccer team, and I really want to show up at her games and it means I have to leave work early on Thursdays. And I was afraid to ask.” “Well, let’s figure out how we can make that happen.” So sometimes they’re small things and sometimes they’re bigger things, and if you can’t deliver on it, you’ve got to say, “What else?”

Pete Mockaitis
Okay, simple enough.

Beverly Kaye
And I think that’s critical.

Pete Mockaitis
Well, I’m curious to hear then, let’s say you’re on the other side of the coin – a person who is maybe considering leaving or has some issues, some concerns. If we’re not being proactively sort of asked in a stay interview, do you have any pro tips on how you might give voice to those concerns and get some of those accommodations flowing your way?

Beverly Kaye
So, it’s interesting. When we wrote Love ‘Em or Lose ‘Em, managers said, “Well, this is a great book, it’s got great tips. But isn’t there responsibility for the employee?” And we said, “Hell yes, there is.” And we wrote a book called Love It, Don’t Leave It: 26 Ways to Get What You Want at Work. And in that book we used the same alphabet, only we flipped it to the employee.
And again we say, ask. Ask for what you want, and ask for what you want in a way that a manager has a hard time saying “No”. Ask with solutions. Don’t ask them to fix it; ask with alternatives, so that if the manager can’t do one thing, they can do something else. Ask specifically, like don’t say, “I’m not turned on to my job anymore. I’m getting bored.” But say, “Here’s specifically what I procrastinate the most about, that I would love to pass on to somebody else.” And ask for time. Say to your manager, “Could I get 20 minutes within the next week to talk to you about what would make my job more enriching, endearing to me?” So, I think managers need to ask and employees need to ask.

Pete Mockaitis
Okay, that sounds great. And so, tell me, when you mentioned that 20 minutes there, any pro tips or perspectives on finding that time, if it seems like there’s so much go-go-go-go, deliverable, deliverable, urgency, fire drills going on? How do you find that time for this good people process development stuff?

Beverly Kaye
You know, on the point of view of the manager, I would say, “Make the time.” Or I would say, “How long will it take you to replace that person if they leave? How long will it take to recruit and find and interview and bring someone new on?” And if you go, “Oh my gosh”, then maybe spending time now, even 5 minutes.
And maybe you do those stand-up meetings and you say to an employee, “I want a 5-minute stand-up meeting with you, and I want to just learn what was the best part of last week?” Now that would be great stay interview question. Or a project’s over. “Just 5 minutes on the best part of the project for you, and the worst part of the project for you. And that’s data for me about what’s important to you.”

Pete Mockaitis
Oh that’s great. And so now we’ve covered some of the key pieces associated with the stay interviews. That was one of 26 strategies. Could you share maybe one or two quick other strategies that you think really offers a big return on your effort, when it comes to retention?

Beverly Kaye
You know, one of the biggest strategies is around career. And that’s why I’ve spent so much time on it in Help Them Grow or Watch Them Go, or in the new book that’s coming. And that is, “My career is the main reason I join an organization. I think you’re going to be good for my career growth. And one of the major reasons I leave an organization is because you don’t look like you’re going to be good for my career growth. I can’t see my future in your future. I don’t see a game plan here.”
And many employees leave, and I’ve read enough research that tells me they leave because they don’t see that future. And no manager ever sat down with them to talk about the future. So, I think that career is a critical strategy, and employees who don’t feel there is growth for them will leave. And I can assure your listeners, not just my research, but all the other big research says the same thing.

Pete Mockaitis
Okay. And so I guess I’m wondering then, in practice you ask the question, you have the conversation about what they want from the future and how that could be provided. And I guess what’s tricky is at times it seems that sometimes something just needs to keep getting done, and there’s not an obvious opportunity for a person to move on to and move into. Do you have any creative tips and tricks for when organizations find themselves in that scenario?

Beverly Kaye
So, on the topic of nothing to move on to or into, is a great whine that hear from employees. And I wrote an article titled, a long time ago, What’s on Your Whine List? And I spelled it W-H-I-N-E. So one big whine for employees is that, “My career means I have to move out of something and into something else, instead of looking for growth right where I am.”
In other words, the current terrain is fertile soil, and that’s the title of one of the chapters in the new book. That, “Development doesn’t mean I get a new job or go to a training, or I get something new on my list of ‘to do’s’. It means I figured out how I can grow right where I am, and I do that. And that readies me for the future.”

Pete Mockaitis
Okay, thank you. Well Bev, tell me, is there anything else you want to make sure we cover off before we shift gears and hear about some of your favorite things here?

Beverly Kaye
I think that I’ve been doing this work for gosh, almost 40 years, and I’ve built a niche of engagement, development and retention, and it’s never left me high and dry. In other words, there’ always been new ways to think about engagement, retention and career development, and new ways that I’m stimulated to think about those ideas. So I love that I happened to pick a niche that I think is really always green, it’s evergreen. And I keep learning about it all the time.

Pete Mockaitis
That is handy, absolutely. In the training biz you don’t want something that’s quick, sort of maybe a regulation that comes and goes; it’s like, “Oh, nothing else to say about that, ’cause it’s obsolete.” Certainly.

Beverly Kaye
Exactly.

Pete Mockaitis
People need people to stick around and be engaged for probably ever, until our species is no more. Well then, could you start us off by sharing a favorite quote, something you find inspirational?

Beverly Kaye
A favorite quote. You know, I like the quote, “Love what you do and do what you love.” I have it hanging above the door from my office to my assistant’s office, and I think if you don’t love what you do, boy, it’s going to affect you in your health, it’s going to affect you in your communication with your family and your friends, and it’s going to show.
So, you can’t ever love all of what you do. I mean I pull my hair out many a day, and I look at my window and think I’m going to jump out of it, but it’s on the first floor so that wouldn’t help. So I don’t always love what I do, and I can’t always do what I love, but most of the time I can. And that keeps me healthy, I think mentally and emotionally and physically.

Pete Mockaitis
Okay, thank you. And how about a favorite study or experiment or a piece of research?

Beverly Kaye
I think… I love reading other people’s research. And I’m always collecting the latest book on the latest thing, and I’ll tell you, there is a book written a while ago by Alan Webber. He was the co-founder of Fast Company magazine, and he wrote a book called Rules of Thumb: 52 Truths for Winning at Business Without Losing Yourself.
And every rule was great, and they connect with me. Like I just opened his book. “Rule #23: Keep two lists. What gets you up in the morning and what keeps you up at night.” That’s a great rule. And “Rule #14: You don’t know if you don’t go, so go try it.” So he’s got a great little book, and you might want to reach out to him and interview him and tell him that I sent you.

Pete Mockaitis
Oh, thank you. That does sound interesting. And could you share with us a favorite tool, whether that’s a product or service or app or thought framework that you find yourself using often?

Beverly Kaye
You know, my company has a values tool that we have used for many many years. We’ve touched it up here and there, but basically it’s the same tool and it says, “What do you really value, and is that delivered in your current job?” And it makes for a great conversation tool between manager and employee, and it reminds me that I have an intern sitting with me in my office. I’m going to give her the values instrument before she leaves my office today. ‘Cause we haven’t had that conversation.

Pete Mockaitis
Well, you’re on your way.

Beverly Kaye
Yeah.

Pete Mockaitis
And how about a favorite habit, a personal practice of yours that helps you be more awesome at your job?

Beverly Kaye
Well, I have to walk on my treadmill for 30 minutes every morning that I’m here. I travel a lot. And while I walk on my treadmill, I have to watch NBC News, because I’ve been watching them for years, and I have to read People magazine, simultaneously. So that’s my hit in the morning – watching the news and reading People magazine.

Pete Mockaitis
Fun, thank you. And would say there is a particular tidbit or quote from you, an articulation of your message that really seems to resonate, to get re-tweeted, to get folks taking furious notes all of a sudden in your keynotes?

Beverly Kaye
Just the quote, I just used it in the phone call before this, is that, “Opportunity still knocks, it just opens different doors.” And maybe that sums up the work I’ve done over 40 years. Always saying, “There’s always opportunities.” You know, there’re doors always open to you, but you’ve got to turn the handle.

Pete Mockaitis
Got you. And what would you say is the best way for folks to contact you or get in touch and learn more?

Beverly Kaye
So, Career Systems has a website – Career Systems International. Come check it out. On the website you will see many videos, many other podcasts, etcetera. And my email is beverly.kaye@careersystemsintl.com.

Pete Mockaitis
Thank you. And do you have a final, parting thought or challenge, call to action for those seeking to be more awesome at their jobs?

Beverly Kaye
I would say, do something with one or two of the ideas I gave you. Do something and do it tomorrow, by the end of the day tomorrow. If you don’t put something into operation, you’ll lose all of this. So do it and do it quickly. Do it by the end of tomorrow.

Pete Mockaitis
Okay, thank you. Bev, this has been a whole lot of fun. I wish you lots of luck with your existing and upcoming books, and your keynotes and everything you’re up to.

Beverly Kaye
Thank you! It’s been a pleasure to do this.

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