The Sharpening Stone – Staying or Going? Let’s Have a Better Conversation

My wife loves Hallmark Movies, and after watching a number of them with her, I find there’s a common theme – Couple is interested in each other, but they don’t express it to one another, then one thinks – do I stay or do I go? – because they think the other doesn’t care, when the other does care, but just hasn’t said anything until it’s too late.  It’s this drama that makes these movies popular, but you’re left wondering, or at least I am, would this have been avoided with some better conversations?

It reminds me of what I see in many organizations experiencing employee turnover.  Employee turnover is costly.  Replacing an employee costs 2x their annual salary.  Beyond the financial costs, the lack of employee continuity can frustrate co-workers, dampen morale, and worsen productivity.

As Leaders, we care about the well-being of our organization.  So let’s talk about how we improve engagement of our employees and receive the feedback we need to overcome unhealthy turnover.

Most Organizations have “Exit Interviews” as a process to help them understand why an employee is leaving, but those are reactive and done after the decision by the employee has already been made.  It’s simply too late! Some organizations have implemented what the Society of Human Resource Management terms “Stay Interviews”.  The difference with these is to have discussions with the employees before they’ve decided to leave the organization.

Either of these two options are better than not doing anything at all, but they are not the best option.

I recommend that you focus on 1:1’s.  You should already have regular 1:1’s in place with your direct reports, and they should also have 1:1’s in place with theirs.  Effective 1:1’s discuss: progress on goals, performance feedback, issues, and also development opportunities.  By engaging your direct reports on a regularly scheduled and consistent basis, you are developing trust, which is critical in building your relationship.

This option of having better conversations is to leverage what you already have in place, so add the following questions quarterly into your 1:1’s:

  • What do you enjoy most about working here?
  • What would make you feel more valued, supported, or satisfied?
  • What about our leadership approach helps you thrive; and what would help you be more effective?

By having better conversations, employees feel valued and heard.  Keep in mind that this is not just about listening but acting on what employees share.  When you do this, you foster trust, convey that you value your people, and reinforce that you care about them.  Just remember, people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you make them feel. 

About the Author: Steve Erb

Steve is a graduate of Purdue University where he received his Bachelor’s degree in Mathematics / Statistics, and Villanova University, where he received his MBA. Steve’s career has included senior leadership positions with two Fortune500 companies in Procurement, Logistics, Supply Chain, and Operations. Steve also built out the Organizational Development/HR department for a software technology firm and was a key part of seven (7) acquisitions over a 2-year period; as well as developing a successful compensation strategy and structure.

Steve’s expertise lies in developing operations strategies that eliminate redundancies; streamline processes/systems; and deliver productivity, quality, and efficiency gains. Steve has a proven reputation for caring for employees and teams, resulting in an overriding “Servant Leadership” mentality that transforms company cultures and creates a sense of employee engagement and accountability. Steve is also known for his change management expertise and ability to gain credibility to align performance drivers, customer expectations, and initiate continuous improvement across multi-site operations.

The Sharpening Stone

The Sharpening Stone is a series of short videos from True Edge designed to sharpen leaders and their organizations.

Want to receive The Sharpening Stone in your inbox? Signup below.

Rely on our executive experience and professional psychological expertise to help you find your True Edge.