Most managers like to hire high-achieving employees, yet many managers do not effectively motivate high achievers.

More than 40 years ago, David McClellan of Harvard University identified high achievers as people who like to take personal responsibility for projects, set moderate achievement goals and desire tangible feedback.

Some ways to identify high achievers and manage them: They perform well in tasks that require intellectual solutions; they do not do so well in jobs that merely require steady persistence.

Because achievers like to assume responsibility for their results, effective managers delegate complete tasks to achievers. Then managers get out of the achievers' way while they figure out how to best accomplish the tasks.

Achievers feel suppressed under rules, regulations and policies. They prefer freedom to work out ways that move them toward the goals.

Freedom to fail is necessary to achieve maximum results from achievers. Understanding managers allow achievers to experiment with their own methods, and they support their achievers when things do not turn out as expected. By contrast, managers who demand perfection and conformity tend to frustrate achievers.

The employment situation for white-collar workers may be improving. William Morin of Drake Beam Morin, an outplacement company, says fewer companies have been calling him lately about laying off workers. Morin is the one who, more than six months ago, said he was seeing an unusually large number of layoffs in the works. It turns out that he was correct. While Morin says layoffs are now occurring at a furious pace, he thinks things will calm down. "I think it will flatten out in six months," Morin said.