Workers can position themselves to

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Loyalty works both ways.

For Mark Dingley, of IHS Help Desk Service, a listening employer made all the difference in his decision to stay on the job.

More than five years ago, when he first joined the company, which provides support services to businesses around the country, he quickly became interested in a management position, and discussed those desires with the company president.

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Nine months after he began working at IHS, an assistant manager position at a new client site opened up. The company president remembered Mr. Dingley, and gave him the job.

"From the very beginning at IHS, we always talked about different kinds of career paths," says Dingley. "And they've lived up to their promises. As I kept the company aware of what I was interested in, they responded."

Dingley continued to move up within the company, eventually becoming vice-president of professional services, his current, New York-based job. He says he has received numerous job offers from other companies and told his superiors about two of them.

His bosses responded by explaining what their vision was for him and what roles he could expect to play at IHS over the long term. The company's forthrightness - including a real interest by managers in his career - was enough to make him stay.

"This company has always dealt fairly with me when they've promised me something," he says. "They've stood by what they said." Dingley also says, however, that he had an important role to play when it came to his own career satisfaction and retention: He had to speak up and let company management know what he wanted.

"Not being shy, I introduced myself to the president," he says, beginning a relationship with management early on that helped open doors for him later. "I let him know what I was interested in. An employee needs to get an employer's ear."

Workforce experts agree. Employees need to find ways to let their managers know how they would like to grow within a company.

It's important, they agree, for an employee to seek out a superior or a mentor and to try to develop a career plan.

"Tell them what you like, take a greater interest in what it takes to make your company successful," says Roger Herman of the Herman Group. "Explore what you can do to make the company stronger, a place where you can have a personal impact on the success of the organization. Employers get really excited when employees show that kind of interest."

There's even room for complaint. "Say, here are the top three things I'm enjoying about the job, and then say, but here are the top three things ... I'm having a hard time with," says Brian Bohling, senior vice-president of human resources at CDI Corp., a major recruitment and training firm. "Get into a nonemotional, factual dialogue with your employer."

But above all, experts stress, communicate. "Employees have the responsibility to say 'here's what I want, here's what I need, here's what would make me stay,' " says author and consultant Beverly Kaye.

(c) Copyright 2001. The Christian Science Monitor

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