Great Finds: Use The Stay Interview to Keep Your Best Staff

Donna Feddern —  April 20, 2016 — Leave a comment

Do you have a favorite employee? It’s OK to have a favorite. What would you do if that person left your organization for another job? Would you be surprised?

book cover for The Stay InterviewI was talking to a colleague yesterday who was lamenting the departure of a couple of her staff and how sad she was to lose them. Is there anything you can do to avoid a similar fate?

Shortly after our conversation I was doing one of my regular walks around inside my building when I noticed a book on display in our New Books area: The Stay Interview: A Manager’s Guide to Keeping the Best and Brightest by Richard P. Finnegan.

I’d heard of an exit interview but not a stay interview. I was intrigued. The book description explains that a stay interview is a “powerful new engagement and retention tool.” Sure, you’ve been trying to check in with your staff and see how things are going, but are you asking the right questions to determine if your employees are happy with their jobs?  Are you and your employees on the same page when it comes to expectations? Could you be assigning more challenging work or perhaps helping your employees prioritize their work better so they’re not feeling so overwhelmed? It’s easy to get busy but these regular check-ins could be the key to avoiding the loss of those staff who are pushing your organization forward.

If you are ready to try this out, please be open to the answers you will hear. Any defensiveness of your part will make this whole process a waste of time. Your job is to listen and understand. If you and your staff person aren’t on the same page then it is time to communicate expectations or use your power to clear roadblocks. Work on a plan together that comes with a timeline. If you have an employee thinking of leaving, there may still be time for you to have a second chance to win them over.

For more information, check out the Stay Interviews book, or check out questions to create your own stay interviews:

As a bonus, spending some time answering the questions listed in these articles for yourself may help you work through burnout and find your own way to happiness at work. Your answers could highlight some changes that you need to make to reinvigorate your passion for your own career.


Donna Feddern


Donna is the manager of two library branches for the Timberland Regional Library system in Washington State. Prior to that, she worked at the Escondido Public Library for 10 years, working in multiple positions from Automation Systems Librarian to Senior Librarian of Teen and Media Services, and finally Digital Services Manager. Her projects included a major website redesign and the LibraryYOU project. Donna has also worked on reference desks for the Free Library of Philadelphia, the King County Library System, and the Seattle Public Library and as a trainer for the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation traveling to libraries in Oklahoma and New Mexico to provide computer training to library staff. Donna’s professional interests include management, staff development, library security, design thinking, and online marketing.

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