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Managers Matter Most

The best way to retain prized employees at a time ofskilled labor shortages is to get managers to take responsibility for retainingtheir best people.

September 6, 2001
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Related Topics: Retention
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A recent American Management Association survey of its members found thatfour out of five see retention as a serious issue for their companies. HRexperts such as San Francisco State University's John Sullivan, say those samemanagers are probably to blame for their own worries. Forget money and stockoptions, or the lavish perks that so much of corporate America has enjoyed inrecent years. Sullivan says the best way to retain prized employees at a time ofskilled labor shortages is to get managers to take responsibility for retainingtheir best people.

    In his work as head of SFSU's department of human resources management, andas adviser to corporate giants such as Microsoft, Nike, and Schwab, Sullivansuggests HR take an active role in facilitating the following solutions:

  • Set aside time on a regular basis for managers to meet with their employeesto discuss workplace concerns and possible solutions. Discover and define theproblem before it's too late.

  • Ask managers to regularly review workers' expectations and their goals forcareer development. Work with them in creating long-term plans for growth thatbenefits the company and the employee.

  • Regularly measure employees' feelings about their manager by conductinginterviews. When legitimate and pressing problems arise, inform managers, andoffer to train them to address the concern. For example, if workers complainthat a manager is disorganized, give her the opportunity to take atime-management course.

  • When turnover rates are rampant, hold managers accountable by tying theircompensation to retention. If the attrition declines, not only is it a sign ofimproved employee satisfaction, managers enjoy a more productive workforce andfinancial rewards.

Workforce, April 2001, p. 58SubscribeNow!


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