"Where do you see yourself in 3 years?"

What a strange coincidence that most people stay at a company an average of 18-24 months (halfway towards their 3-year goal) before leaving... And often the reason they give is stagnation.

And you'll often hear: "People don't leave jobs, they leave bad managers."

It seems like the answer is right there, doesn't it?

If you want to retain talent:

  1. Continuously find out people's goals
  2. If they don't know them/don't have them, guide them through what growth looks like and what opportunities lay ahead.
  3. Track things in your 1:1s; That is their purpose. Not to discuss projects & status.
  4. Once in a while, along the way, expose them to what the end result looks like. Help them experience the ups and downs so they can determine whether to adjust their goals or pace.
  5. Ensure their goals & timeline will align with your needs; If they don't (which happens - and that's OK) have a candid but amicable discussion on what their eventual exit would look like. It may seem strange to do so, but they're probably already thinking through the likelihood, and will appreciate the candor. Don't force them out though, let them drive the pace. If you've been having regular 1:1s, you would have already built a relationship and reputation with them so that this conversation will go well.

This approach (along with the support of the company) was why my own average retention rate as a manager was well above the 36month mark. Some stayed. Some left, but few left early. I've happily maintained relationships with them all.

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