Is it a manager’s job to understand what makes employees tick?

‘Yes, if he wants to retain them,’ says Harvard business psychologist
By Uyen Vu
|Canadian HR Reporter|Last Updated: 09/21/2006

Even the brightest and highest performers can get bored and fizzle. Most managers have seen it happen.

Their reports may have been geniuses in the data analysis department or absolute stars when sprearheading a major marketing campaign. But things change. Their roles morph. Top performers might have been made managers because it was time to promote them and recognize their contribution. Or their once ground-breaking project has matured into a respected institution, hence less malleable. And soon enough, those erstwhile star performers may find themselves looking afar for their next move.

To Harvard Business School professor James Waldroop, the only hope of hanging on to these individuals is to understand what makes them truly happy. Once that’s understood, an employer would be better off thinking about ways to align that person’s job with what makes them tick.