What's a Stay Interview? (and why you should try it)

Metric Culture

We’ve all heard the saying, “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.” While this can definitely be true, it doesn’t help us to understand what we can do to make sure things stay unbroken… and get even better. 

At Metric, we think we’re doing things well—we have great teams in creative, digital, accounts, and project management that can be found working (happily) across the globe. We have team members who’ve opted into flex options and benefits that help them work in a way that works for them. We’ve had a record year of adding new clients to our roster–and new members to each one of our teams. It would be easy for us to sit back and enjoy where we’re at… but why not choose NOW to look for ways to improve so we can keep this good thing going and retain our best employees? 

Earlier in 2022, Metric’s founder and CEO, John MacDonald, connected with Kathy Marcove of Marcove Executive Training, who introduced him to the idea of a ”stay interview.” The premise of the project was that Metric would hire an outside agency to help us learn more about our most valuable asset: our people. 

By hiring Kathy and her team to conduct our stay interviews, we hoped to learn a few things:

  1. What inspires you to do your best work?

  2. Are there things that we could improve to make your day to day better?

  3. Are you fulfilled by what you’re doing everyday?

  4. What more can we be doing to support your personal and professional development?

  5. What can Metric do to help you grow and stay here, instead of looking for outside opportunities?

“When I think of an ‘interview,’ I think of an interview when you’re getting hired–and then there’s an exit interview when you’re on your way out. There is a huge part in the middle, but there's no big focus to pay attention to retaining our team. Sure, we may get feedback here and there–but my goal has always been about optimizing our firm and listening to our A Players,“ John said.

A Player, noun: an important term in our Metric vocab, an A Player is a team member who is at the top of their game. They show up ready to put their best foot forward on behalf of our clients and believe that passion, balance, and camaraderie—together—hold the keys to success. They’re also the most fun for other A Players to work with because they challenge each other to bigger ideas and better outcomes.

This past summer, Kathy worked closely with John and our HR/Office Manager, Erin, to schedule 1:1 interviews with every single Metric team member. 

“By having an outside company conduct these interviews, it definitely allowed for everyone to share their thoughts in an open and safe space. We don’t have an entire team here dedicated solely to retention strategies, so having this honest feedback is exactly what HR wants to know,” said Erin.

At the conclusion of the project–which included interviews with the senior team and every employee, analyzing results, and putting together main themes and recommendations–Kathy presented her findings to the company. 

Here’s a sample of what we heard:

How do the Metric mission, vision, and core values inspire your work?

“No one is here to just get a paycheck. Metric has attracted people who are building careers, and we need to retain people as long as we can. How can we make our work fun and interesting every time?”

If you were to win the lottery and resign, what would you miss the most about your job?

“The variety. I love that no two clients are the same and no two days are the same. The nature of the work and the people for whom we do it… it is stimulating and rewarding.”

“Are we assuming that I would resign? I do not think I would. I like what I do and who I get to do it with.”

“The people.”

Is there anything else you would like to share about your experience working at Metric Marketing?

“No one can say there is not a true desire to improve and maintain the culture of the organization. It is not lip service… you get the sense that John, Justin, and Kevin actually care about the work/life balance… to build on the team and keep the A Players… I have worked long enough to know that the grass is not greener anywhere else. Metric is doing a lot of good things and doing what they say they are doing.”

Of course, we weren’t just after compliments… We genuinely wanted to know about what our employees would like to see more or less of–the truths that managers sometimes only hear in an exit interview, when it’s too late to make a change. For example, one of Kathy’s questions asked: “If you had a magic wand, what would be the one thing you would change about this team/department/organization?” 

Some responses included:

  1. Focus on being the best we can be from an innovative and creative point of view

  2. Hire more production staff to keep up with demand

  3. More time for concept development

  4. More communication between departments

Metric took no time to address these suggestions. Since the conclusion of our stay interview initiative, we’ve hired new employees to every team at the company–bringing us to 12 new Metric team members in the last year alone. We’ve also made adjustments to some of our core processes and have kicked off projects designed to address the rest.

To put it simply, our goal is not to hire 10 employees to Metric and hope that five stay. We’d rather hire eight true A Players who embrace our values and are excited to show up every day for our clients and for each other. And we’d like to create an agency where these team members can grow and thrive and find new challenges and opportunities with Metric.

If you couldn't already tell, we’re incredibly passionate about not only what we do, but about who’s here ready to raise their hand to tackle the next project.

“As someone who’s often interviewing candidates for open roles at Metric, I understand that they are trying to sell themselves to us. It’s just as important for us to sell ourselves to them because we want to be a good fit for them, too. Doing this project has only helped in giving us tangible feedback to share with candidates about what our culture is all about,” Erin mentioned.

Moral of the story: Stay interviews? 10/10, would recommend.

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