"Boss, I'd like to quit."
Then, out of nowhere, one of your best employees comes to you and tells you they're leaving.
It stings, and your first instinct is probably to blame them.
I would've promoted them in three months, so it's their loss. Everyone is replaceable anyway.
But you're smart, you know that replacing a great employee takes a ton of work, including interviewing candidates, hiring and onboarding, and training.
In fact, statistics show that the average cost of turning over a skilled job is 213 percent the cost of one year's salary. Basically, if an employee who earns $50,000 a year quits, this means you'll spend a whopping $106,500 on replacing them. Ouch!
So I guess you want to prevent that from happening as much as you can, right?
Personally, I use something that has been helping me a lot with this: It's called "exit interviews".
These are basically interviews that you have with an employee when they want to quit. During these interviews, you get a ton of feedback about you and your organization.
The goal is to use the feedback to improve upon your leadership and your business. If you do it right, you can even avoid losing talent in the future.
Want to get as much out of your exit interviews as possible? Here are my recommendations:
1. Put your ego aside
Let your employee know that you value their time in your company, and that their departure is a big loss. Tell them that you'd appreciate their feedback, so that you don't make the same mistakes in the future.
This is easier said than done -- especially if you're not used to opening yourself up to criticism. That said, you need to do this if you want to get genuine, helpful feedback.
I once even managed to change someone's mind because I spoke to them humbly, without any ego. The employee saw that I was willing to change, and decided to stay with the company.
2. Ask questions and shut up
What you will hear is probably going to hurt. When this happens, your first impulse will probably be to explain yourself, and defend your actions.
Here's my advice: don't do it. Just ask questions and shut up. If there's something you don't agree with, politely ask follow-up questions to understand better the issue.
When an employee complains about a decision I made, I like to ask them what they would do if they were in my position. This helps me to understand their thinking, as well as what they didn't like about my approach.
3. Take action
After leaving the session, make sure to review your feedback and see how you can work on making things better.
Remember: if you're just doing the exit interviews but not using any of the information you've gotten, then nothing will change. You'll keep losing more talent in the future, and you'll never be able to build (and maintain!) your dream team.
One of the worse hits your business can take is to lose a talented and hardworking employee. You might try to convince yourself that it's not you, it's them -- but if your best employees keep leaving, one after another, it's a clear sign that something has to change. Make sure you carry out those exit interviews, and take a good, hard look at what you're doing wrong.