Think about all the questions you ask an employee before they’re hired (also known as a candidate): questions to get to know who they are, what experience they have, how they might fit into your organization.
Now think about all the questions you ask an employee when they’ve decided to leave your company (also known as a traitor…I kid, I kid): questions to figure out where they’re going, why they left, what you could have done differently as an employer.
But, how often do you ask questions to your employees when they’re just that: your employees?
And I’m not talking about just any old questions. Sure, you probably talk to your employees daily, or at least a few times a week. During those conversations you’re naturally asking questions about what’s happening in the workflow of the team, but what about questions that really get to the heart of how an employee is doing in their role?
My guess would be probably not very often.
As a manager, you get caught up in the day-to-day and forget to have those conversations with your employees that get below the surface of how things are going with this client or that project. It’s unfortunate because retention is largely based on employees knowing you care how things are going in their world besides checking things off the list. If managers cared (and showed that they care) about employees’ status as much as they do during hiring or exit interviews, everyone would be better off.
I’m not saying you have to have a full-out conversation every day with your employees about how they’re feeling about their jobs, but every once in a while, you should get a quick check-in. It can start with something as simple as asking these three questions:
How are you liking your job?
This might seem like a question you would reserve for new hires, but au contraire. It’s a loaded question, but because it is such a loaded question it brings up a lot of underlying things about what might be going right and wrong for the employees and allows you as a leader to address them head-on.
What can I help you with?
This question is a nice reminder for your employees that, as their leader, you’re there to help them. Employees can get really wrapped up in the idea that they have to tackle things on their own, but asking them this questions lets them off the hook a little bit and lets them know they’re not in the job alone.
What can I be doing better?
Humility is important in a leader, and vastly underrated. This question not only tells your employees that you understand you can keep getting better at your job, it also is a backdoor way of getting them to think about struggles they’re having. Knowing these things can help you get ahead of problems before they become a bigger deal.
Show your employees you care—and not just as the beginning or end of their time with your company—by asking these questions every so often. You might just see your retention rates go up.