Mediocre Middle Management

Good employees leaving? It may be your manager.

Is your manager a whiz at handling the operating side of your business but only so-so on human relations? If so, it could cost you good workers. A new survey concludes that employee retention is directly linked to employee-manager relationships. If employee turnover is a problem, it may be time to take a close look at your managers.

Caela Farren, president of MasteryWorks, an educational human resources training company in Annandale, Virginia, surveyed 500 workers and found that having a manager they respected ranked No. 1 in what they wanted in a job. "Managers need to know their employees' family situations, and motivate, challenge and appreciate them," says Farren. "Doing that builds loyalty and committed employees."

The buck starts with you, the entrepreneur. Making sure your managers have the capability and inclination to do those tasks well is your job. Here are some important traits Jeffrey Saltzman, an industrial psychologist and CEO of Sirota Consulting in Purchase, New York, suggests business owners consistently look for in their managers: considerate treatment of subordinates, giving clear performance directions, and offering rewards and challenges on the job.

Sirota offers some simple advice for motivating managers to achieve this: "As an owner, you should manage managers by treating them the way you want them to treat your employees." Where have we heard that one before?


Ellen Paris is a Washington, DC, writer and former Forbes magazine staff writer.

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This article was originally published in the February 2000 print edition of Entrepreneur with the headline: Mediocre Middle Management.

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