People are our most important asset

Being in the recruiting business – TheLadders.com is the largest job site for jobs that pay over $100,000 – is a good window into understanding how American companies run the “soft side” of their businesses. We meet lots of companies and HR departments and recruiters and get a pretty good insight into what’s given importance, and what’s just given lip service, when it comes to employee management.

There’s the old truism — “people are our most important asset” – that is nonetheless honored in the breach. CEOs who spout this one off as an illuminating principle or organizing paradigm for their company, should understand what’s required to make this effective for your business: time, attention, money.

How many of you, who believe that people are your most important asset, spent 5% or more of your time last week on people issues? If you go back through your calendar for the last week, or the last month, how much time did you actually spend on interviewing, recruiting, performance reviews and assessments? I think the answer will surprise you if you do the exercise.
And with your most important asset, shouldn’t you be expending the greater portion of your variable effort in optimizing that asset’s productivity?

Ensuring that you are prepared to interview well (how many people even consider that interviewing well requires preparation?)
Debating with your colleagues on what type of background, experience, skill set, outlook you want in a candidate for a job?
Providing straight talk feedback – not “up with people” gobbledygook – to your reports?

Ranking the performance of your team, and your company’s team on a linear scale? (It’s all too easy to have the “Lake Wobegon” effect produce assessments depicting an entirely above-average company!)

Reviewing your training and development dollars and cutting the useless stuff and funding the productive programs?
And many more….

The amount of time and attention and money one can devote to people issues is enormous, and rarely exhausted by even exceptional companies.

Heck, I’m amazed at how often we fall short of the gold standard here at TheLadders on many of these, and we’re in the business every day, so it’s no surprise that American companies generally have a difficult time with putting the right resources into these efforts.

So the question is – if people are your most important asset, how are you going to spend your time today?

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