The Connection Between Stay Interviews + BD Coaching

Have you heard about ‘stay interviews’? I hadn’t until last year. I caught up with a client for coffee and she told me they were conducting stay interviews. Learning about stay interviews, makes me think what a mitigating force they could be in The Great Resignation trend. Naturally, I also see how Business Development coaching for professionals plays a role in all of this.

With PwC Australia’s recent research (What workers want: Winning the war for talent), showing that 38% of Australian workers are planning to leave their job over the next 12 months, finding meaningful ways to retain valuable employees has become mission critical. Sure, some good intel comes from exit interviews when people leave a firm, and in theory, that information can serve to improve engagement with the remaining employees. However, even if the leadership does put that intel to use, it’s intel that has come at the cost of having lost a potentially highly valuable team member.

What if a firm’s leadership knew what would have kept those valuable lawyers, accountants, and engineers in their roles in the first place, so they didn’t leave? That’s where the stay interview comes in. It’s basically the opposite of an exit interview. Stay interviews help leaders stay on the front foot by identifying what’s working at their firm and what will help before those valuable professionals call it quits.

Stay interviews are a great tactic in retention strategies that are based on the leadership genuinely listening to their people, and then taking meaningful action. When they do this, it builds trust. And we know that trust is a foundation for successful relationships, professionally and personally.

After the client meeting where I learned about stay interviews, I did some research and came across the work of Dick Finnegan. Mr Finnegan is the CEO of C-Suite Analytics, a consulting and coaching firm in the US that helps employers improve worker retention and engagement; he works with large, Fortune 500 companies. He says, “Taking time to cultivate trusting relationships and open communication between bosses and workers delivers results,” and that his clients are “consistently able to reduce turnover by 30 percent or more” when following his process.

“If only I’d known what would have kept my valued outgoing professional in my firm, before they made up their mind to leave,” is a statement that can perhaps be avoided through the use of stay interviews.

According to the PwC Australia’s 2021 research, What workers want: Winning the war for talent, career development is one of the levers they identified to help leaders organise their thinking and drive effective change.

As I mentioned in a previous blog, BD Coaching to Boost Your Firm’s EVP  firms that provide their professionals with BD coaching at every stage of their career can result in a win-win. Business development coaching is a meaningful career development opportunity for a firm’s professionals because it helps them build positive BD habits that will help them to win work.

One of my clients, a law firm, who conducted stay interviews with their team, found their people wanted BD help, specifically around how to grow their practice. My team is now supporting that firm’s lawyers – from the recent grads to the senior partners – in developing and honing their BD skills.

Two great stay interview questions that have led professional services firms to reach out for Business Development coaching are:

  1. What are you learning here?
  2. What skills would you like to build?

I believe it was Carl Jung who said, “To ask the right question is already half the solution of a problem.”

So, if you’re concerned about The Great Resignation impacting your firm, ask your people a few good questions, you might just help them to stay, and in turn, develop your business. Win-win!