This video provides a step-by-step process for having a retention conversation – a conversation with the specific purpose of identifying what it will take to keep someone within the organization. 25% of high potentials indicate that want to change jobs in the next 12 months – retention conversations can reduce this statistic dramatically.
- Every year, leaders are surprised, and even shocked, when high-potential employees resign, even after a significant investment has been made in their development. It's hard to believe that 12% of high potentials are actively looking for a new job at any given time, and 1/4 typically leave within their first year at a company. Employees often say the same thing when they resign: "I wasn't looking, but a great opportunity just came up." When key employees leave, there's always a reason other than an opportunity that fell into their laps.
So, what causes them to leave? When high potentials don't feel that their career growth is being supported, or that they aren't able to make a difference in the business, or when they aren't inspired by their direct manager, they may start to look. And with a high demand for top talent, it's not surprising that other companies will want them. So, what about your organization's high potentials? Are they looking for other jobs? Has anyone checked in with them to see how they're feeling about being at the company? Well, one way to be proactive is to have a retention conversation.
This is a conversation typically conducted by the high potential's manager, or sometimes by senior leaders to get a sense for what can be done to increase the chance that they'll stay with the organization. Even for individuals who seem satisfied, things can change quickly, and a retention conversation can make a big difference. The conversation starts with the big picture. Ask questions about what motivates the individual, and what he or she enjoys most about the job and the organization.
From there, it's helpful to ask probing questions about career aspirations, their proudest accomplishments, and whether they feel that their talents are being used well. A direct question about what could be done to increase their commitment can uncover simple steps that can be easily taken and make a big difference. It's key that the conversation include a discussion of practical steps the manager and organization can take if the individual has areas of dissatisfaction.
It may be a focus on increasing the individual's ability to innovate, make decisions, or achieve more work-life balance, or it may be that they're having difficulty with their manager. It's helpful to have a devoted conversation about retention, but you have to follow up. The best conversation is meaningless without follow-up. Make sure you review progress against the actions that were identified. High potentials are ambitious, highly motivated, and have high expectations for their careers.
They want to talk about where they're getting what they need, and where changes would help them feel more connected and committed. The retention conversation is a perfect place to have this discussion. Checking in frequently to understand what's keeping them in the organization and what might drive them to leave is essential.