2.5 min read

Staff retention is just as important as hiring—and that means making time for stay conversations with the people on your team. The purpose of a stay conversation is to:

  • Share your genuine commitment to retaining your staff—and be specific about what they bring to the team.
  • Learn about their wishes for their role and trajectory at your organization.
  • Affirm their commitment to stay (or, if they’re unsure, get feedback on what would entice them to stay)!

What to cover

Here are some potential components of a stay conversation.

ComponentsWhat To Say
Share the purposeFrame the conversation and share what you hope to get out of it. 

You can say: “I really value what you bring to our team and I hope you’ll stick around for a long time.* In this conversation, I’d like to hear about your hopes for your role here and learn how I can support you. I’m not making promises or asking you to make firm commitments. This is more of an informal conversation so that I can hear your feedback and answer any questions you might have.”

*Note: If you have a specific timeframe in mind, share it. Say, “I’d like you to stay for at least two more campaign cycles.” Whatever you say, make sure you mean it.
Ask about their current role You might ask:

What about your work feels most energizing, fulfilling, or purposeful?

What aspects of your job do you find most unpleasant?

What parts of your role require you to stretch, or challenge you?

Where do you feel you need the most support in your role?
Ask about their desired trajectoryYou might ask:

What are you currently doing that you’d love to keep doing?

Is there anything not in your current role you’d like to learn or try?

What do you think about managing staff/managing a team?

What could you see yourself doing at [organization name] in [X] years? 
Tell them you want them to stay (and why)! Appreciate their strengths and accomplishments, with examples. Share why you think they’re a great fit for their role, the team, and the organization. Tell them explicitly that you want to retain them. 

You can say: “I want you to know how thrilled I am about what you bring to our team and work. I’ve been impressed by X, Y, and Z. I really hope you’ll stay, and I’m committed to doing what I can to support you.”

For more advice on how to give great praise, check out In Praise of… Praise!
Seek perspectiveLet them know you welcome candor and won’t hold any honest answers against them. (And then keep your word).

You might ask:

What would make you feel even better about working here?

Is there anything that would prevent you from staying for another X years?

Is there anything that might cause you to look for another job?

Do you have any questions for me?
Close outThank them for their time and insight and recap next steps (if any). 

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