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- Changing jobs is a reliable way to secure a raise, meaningful work, and better work-life balance.
- But if you like your job and don't necessarily want to quit, your options are limited.
- That's where, experts say, the "stay interview" enters the equation.
Changing jobs is a tried-and-true way to get a pay bump, secure more rewarding work, or achieve better work-life balance. Just ask the 43 million people who voluntarily quit their jobs last year. Some may be, or were, your very own colleagues.
But if you don't necessarily want to quit, your options are more limited. Getting the higher-ups to notice your good work (and make sure you're rewarded for it in ways that matter to you) takes finesse and fine-tuning.
That's where the "stay interview" enters the equation.
The stay interview is, essentially, a career conversation usually initiated by managers to understand why high-performing employees stay at an organization and what could cause them to leave. In the era of the Great Resignation, and at a time when 52% of US workers planned to quit in the first half of 2022, a growing number of companies use stay interviews to retain their best people.
But you don't need to wait for your boss to suggest one.
"In this moment, when there's so much change going on, there's a lot of opportunity for employees to take the bull by the horns," said Nate Smith, the CEO of Lever, a human-resources platform. "You should feel empowered to have this conversation with your manager, especially if there are certain things you want to achieve over the next year or years."
So how should you request one? And what should you say? Insider spoke with four HR leaders and career experts and coaches to learn how to make the most of your stay interview.
Reflect on your goals and set a positive tone
Before requesting a stay interview, Smith advised, think about what exactly you're looking to get out of the conversation.
Perhaps you seek greater flexibility or more visibility. Maybe you're looking for opportunities for learning and development. Ask yourself: "What do I want? And what are some ways I could get what I want?"
At the same time, be sure to put yourself in your boss' shoes to show that you're on the same team, Smith said.
"The more you can align your particular goals with your manager's and organization's objectives, the more likely you are to get buy-in," he said.
You don't want your manager to think that by asking for a stay interview you're issuing an ultimatum, said Joshua Luna, a leadership and development trainer in Chicago. After all, your purpose is not to be identified as a high-flight risk.
Luna recommended saying at the outset that you enjoy working for the company. You can mention a company initiative you're excited about or an assignment you enjoyed. "Letting your boss know you're content and in a good mood will set the right tone," he said.
Take charge of the conversation
Your boss may have a standard set of questions: "What keeps you working here? What would make your job more satisfying? What would tempt you to leave?" And you should have thoughtful answers to them.
But don't be afraid to take the lead in this conversation. It may be uncomfortable at first, but taking charge shows that you have ownership of your career, Luna said. "You need to self-advocate," he said. "If you bring enough value to your organization, and your manager appreciates your contributions, everything is on the table."
Be direct, but not threatening. He recommended showing your boss that you're serious and committed by saying something like, "Over the next six to 12 months, I'm looking to take on X projects, gain Y visibility, and grow Z skills, and I would love to see more opportunities in these areas."
Dain Dunston, an executive coach and the author of "Being Essential: Seven Questions for Living and Leading With Radical Self-Awareness," advised taking a helpful approach. Frame your ideas around your desire to "make a bigger contribution and impact" on the organization, he said.
"You might say, 'I have an idea that could improve a process or product for everyone. Will you give me a chance to try?'" Dunston said. "Your goal is to show that you care about making things better."
Broach problems with care
For bosses, stay interviews are a tool to proactively manage minor problems before they become reasons for people to leave. For employees, they're a prime opportunity to raise pain points.
"Maybe you don't know how to get there, but you know a healthy compromise or productive solution is possible," she said. "Then help your boss help you."
For example, let's say you're unhappy with your work-life balance. (Join the club!) Don't talk about how you're swamped. Instead, be curious and collaborative. Talk about how and when you do your best work, where the chokepoints in your workflow occur, and how you and the team can work through some of the issues getting in the way of balance.
"Allow your boss to become a partner and advocate," Ruettimann said.
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