Retention Interviews

In a recent post, I talked about how to resign.  During that post, I talked about doing exit interviews.  I do not like doing them because typically they do not lead to real change within the organization and you end up sounding like sour grapes.  

This post is more for sales managers, VP of sales and Human Resources leaders.  If your company does exit interviews, I would encourage you to also do Retention Interviews.

What questions are you typically asking in an exit interview?
Here are some common questions:

  1. What circumstances prompted you to start looking for another job?
  2. Under what circumstances, if any, would you consider returning to the company?
  3. Do you think management adequately recognized employee contributions? If not, how do you think recognition could be improved?
  4. Were there any company policies you found difficult to understand? How can the firm make them clearer?
  5. Do you feel your job description changed since you were hired, and if so, in what ways?
  6. Did you feel you had the tools, resources and working conditions to be successful in your role? If not, which areas could be improved and how?
  7. Do you feel you had the necessary training to be successful in your role? If not, how could it have been better?
  8. What was the best part of your job here?
  9. What can the organisation improve on?
  10. Do you have any suggestions for improving employee morale?
  11. Do you have any concerns about the company you’d like to share?
  12. Is there anything else you’d like to add?

Now I want you to imagine what would happen if those same questions were asked as part of a regularly occurring retention interview.
A retention interview can be done between a direct report and their manager or even better between the employee and the HR team.  Many HR teams may send out an employee survey yearly but those are typically multiple choice and do not lead to a dialogue between a direct report and the company.

Initially, the employees may be hesitant to want to open up to HR about some of the above questions, but if the company can prove to take the feedback during retention interviews and implement real change within the organization without an employee being targeted for giving honest feedback, then employees will gradually start to trust the process.  
Here are the questions I would ask:

1a. Would you say you are open to new opportunities outside the organization?

1b. Under what scenarios would see yourself leaving the organization?

1c. If those scenarios presented themselves here, would you be open to accepting them?
2a. Do you think management adequately recognizes your contributions to the organization.

2b. What can be improved upon?

3a. Are there any policies that you do not understand? 

3b. What ways could they be fixed or improved to be more clear or more employee friendly

4a. Do you have the tools you need to be successful?

4b. What tools, resources, training, support do you think you need to be more successful?

5a. What is the best part of your job here?

5b. What is the best part of your manager?

6a. What can the organization improve upon?

6b. How would those improvements help with employee morale?

6c. Do you have anything else you would like to add?

I think those six lines of questions are a good place to start.  Based on employee surveys, glassdoor reviews, and exit interviews, there may be other questions that are specific to one organization.  

If you are a sales manager and your company does not have retention interviews, I think it is very important to have these conversations with your direct reports.  To roll these out, have a call with your entire team.  Tell them that you care about them and want to make sure the company is giving them all the support they need to be successful.  Let them know you are here to be an advocate for them.  Give them the questions in advance so they can think about them. Tell them that your plan is to have these discussions with them every six months.  These discussions are not part of the annual review process and have no impact on your performance or job security.

Performing these interviews twice a year would give the manager and the company the ability to anticipate when a rep may be at risk of leaving the company. If this is an employee the company would like to keep, the company can put a plan in place to keep the employee.

Let me know what you think about these.

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