Poor management is threatening the retention of skilled staff in New Zealand, says a leading recruitment firm.

Fifty per cent of Kiwi employees said they would leave a company if they had a conflict with their manager and one third rated the management skills of the person they report to as average or below.

The survey conducted by specialist finance recruitment firm Robert Half also found 34 per cent of employees would leave if they thought another company had a better management structure.

Robert Half's New Zealand general manager Megan Alexander said organisations couldn't afford to have ineffective managers pushing staff over the edge and into other job opportunities in the present climate.

"Facing up to professional flaws can be a blow to the ego for many managers. However, taking the steps to improve management skills is crucial to employee retention in the current market," said Alexander.

The survey also found there was a perception gap betwen how managers rated their own skills and how employees rated the skills of their manager.

The survey found: 53 per cent of managers said they consistently lead by example; however only 31 per cent of employees agree; 51 per cent of managers say they consistently show interest in their staffs problems; however only 27 per cent of employees agreed.

Alexander said organisations should employ better management training that identified and resolved issues in an appropriate manner in a bid to improve relations between employees and managers.

"Managers need to discuss realistic goals with employees and set up effective methods to address staff problems," said Alexander.

"Strong and effective management skills are key to employee satisfaction and retention, as well as the continued success of an organisation," she said.