A company’s greatest asset is its human capital.
In the book, In Search of Excellence: Lessons from America’s Best-Run Companies, Tom Peters shares the merits of taking interest in the office water cooler discussions and caring what employees really think about the company and their work. When executives actually listen to their employees, the difference in the company’s culture, respect for each other and performance is measurably different.
When the management doesn’t care, you can sense the difference in the company when you walk through the door. I have worked for companies where the employees felt no more important than the pawn in a chess game. They knew it, their managers knew it, and the company knew it.
If you really do value your employees – great! But how is this reflected in your workforce? I am not referring to health care benefits, 401(k) packages, stock purchase plans, bell-curve salary hikes or even the niceties denoted in quarterly and annual reports. These are simply the tickets to entry in today’s world. I am talking about the stuff that really drives employee loyalty and over-the-top performance.
Be genuinely interested.
The best leaders I have worked for took an interest in my life. Not just what I could do for them or the company, though that was critical for my job. But as an individual intent on doing the best job I could for them with dreams of my own. They did what they could to help me succeed and never asked me to do more than what they would ask of themselves. And in return – I worked like a Trojan for them and remain loyal to them to this day. I behaved as if I was their greatest asset. This approach costs no money, no increase in salary or stock options. Yet, the investment of sincere interest pays huge dividends. The next time you are with one of your team members, ask them: What is the greatest hurdle you are facing right now? And then be quiet, let them talk and LISTEN.
At the end of the day, people choose to work for people.
Whether it is a first level individual contributor working for a first line manager or a senior vice president working for the CEO, they are all individual people. Each person has his or her own individual needs, insecurities, challenges and dreams. Creating an environment where people are truly valued as the company’s greatest asset starts with the individual. That individual will set the tone for his or her team, organization or even a large Fortune 50 company.
To know if you’re fostering a culture where people are the company’s greatest asset, ask yourself the following questions or bring them up at the next HR staff meeting:
- Are our employees truly our greatest asset? If so, do we treat them as such?
- What are we doing to bring out the best in our employees and equally the best for our companies?
- Are our intentions fully aligned to support the individuals who make up our company?
When you can honestly answer, address, and align yourself and your company to those questions, you will have found the secret to getting the most for and from your greatest asset – and deliver the greatest value to your organization.