As the applicant pool shrinks during the 1990s, companies will work harder to hold onto key employees. In his book Keeping Good People (McGraw-Hill, 800-262-4729, 1991, $10.95), Roger E. Herman explains how smart companies will succeed.

The key, he writes, is sensitive supervision. "Direct supervisors of good people are the vital link between the organization's philosophy and the way things are actually done."

Too bad those direct supervisors usually don't have a clue about what's most important to their subordinates. Herman cites a study that asked workers to rank motivational factors. It then asked their supervisors to guess how workers had listed those factors. Supervisors ranked workers' highest priorities very low. The factor most important to workers was "full appreciation for work done," which their bosses ranked eighth out of 10. Next, workers said they wanted to feel "in on things." Supervisors guessed that was least important.

-- Ellyn E. Spragins