Thursday, July 23, 2009

Human capital only appreciates if you appreciate it

This seems to be the ultimate secret of human capital management. You may think you know this, but do you really?

If you look at any financial statement you will see debits and credits, which in turn represent assets and costs.

That's the secret of accounting, by the way.
Most assets become less valuable over time. Again, nothing mysterious happening here, if you buy a new SUV (shame on you!) it will depreciate the microsecond you drive it off the lot because now it's: a) used; and b) already outdated.

Within the realm of non-animate assets, this depreciation rule seems to be universal: Stuff becomes less valuable over time. Our economy hinges on this so it's pretty important.

The only exception to this asset depreciation rule - besides antiques, that is - is human assets, which can actually appreciate before they depreciate. If only financial accounting could measure this as it occurs executives might finally put some effort into hiring good people managers instead of fiddling around with spreadsheets.

Because people don't appreciate automatically. You have to invest in them and manage them well.
Heady stuff, huh?

You already know this? OK, then answer this question honestly: How happy are the people at your company with their direct reporting managers? Because managers are the front line embassadors of appreciation or lack thereof.

So, unless you can say 'estatic' or at least 'pretty happy' (maybe estatic is overkill) your company doesn't really get this, no matter what verbage you have on that mission statement poster in the lobby.

Appreciation of human capital begins, not surprisingly, with appreciation. Appreciation can take many forms, both monetary and non-monetary, and the good news for the bottom line is that non-monetary appreciation can be extremely effective. Not to mention cheap.

But what it comes down to is this:

Do your employees feel appreciated?

Here's an idea: Ask them. If the answer is no, don't be surprised if you find yourself with an office full of depreciating assets that are captured in your general ledger as costs.

Monday, July 13, 2009

How do you roll?

I was recently caught by a short but excellent post by Meg over at Talented Apps about the importance of building up a 'team' that helps you be successful. The individuals on Team You are not necessarily direct team members, rather they are all the people who enable you to excel at your job.

This post grabbed me because I've recently been thinking and blogging about
'top talent' and why it's important not to forget about all the people who enable and support top performers.

I was high school valedictorian. This was in large part due to hours spent memorizing geometrical proofs and how a Bill becomes a law but even then I was enabled by a large supporting cast. For example, there was my English teacher who loved me and would have given me an A+ for writing my name on a crumpled cocktail napkin. There was my dorm mother Joan who let me stay up after lights out finishing my homework whenever I blew off study hall watching TV instead of studying. There was my family, who sent care packages and expressed pride in my achievements.

There were many others, too, but you get the idea.

It may seem like I'm going a little off topic here but I do have a point: No one is successful in a vaccuum. If personal academic achievement requires a diverse supporting cast, how much more so a job performed as part of a team?

Lately I've been thinking Talent Management could use a healthy kick in the behind for failing to take a holistic view that focuses on people and results. It's not about meetings, spreadsheets and picking the right software; it's about people, what motivates them and how they work best.

Standardized processes can support this but all too often they don't.

Talent comes in many guises. If your company only has one way of doing things you may find yourself with a limited talent pool because your pool will favor people who do that one thing well, instead of cultivating a team environment where creative diversity can thrive.

Isn't that what talent management is all about?
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