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You're My Hero

How to be a mentor to your employees

By
This story appears in the May 2000 issue of Business Start-Ups magazine.

Years ago, Chris Talarico vowed that if she ever owned a business, she would not treat her employees the way her former employers had treated her-often insensitively, authoritatively and without regard for her professional or personal development. Today, the 35-year-old entrepreneur owns two employment agencies in West Reading, Pennsylvania--Chris Talarico and Associates Inc. Employment Services and Reliable Personnel Resources-which she runs with the help of 13 staffers. Despite the passage of years and her busy schedule, Talarico still takes her old vow seriously. She emphasizes teamwork and having fun on the job: The boss has been known to reward hard work by sending her whole staff on an all-expenses-paid trip to a day spa or by whisking them off in a chauffeured limousine to Atlantic City, New Jersey, where each employee receives $100 to spend as he or she chooses.

Talarico also believes in acting as a mentor to her staff, guiding their professional development and even taking a hands-on approach to personal problems. When an employee needed an apartment fast, Talarico was on the phone that same day, helping to find her a place to live. "We work like a family here," Talarico says. "I feel that if I work with each person, the team will benefit and, ultimately, the business will grow. Also, helping others can enhance my own skills."

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