People are our Most Important Asset…

That is the ‘espoused’ theory in just about every business I have EVER worked in or consulted for. It says it on the web site and in the annual report so it must be true.

But the theory in practice is usually a very different one.

  • People are a controllable cost
  • People are interchangeable parts – just fulfilling job descriptions
  • ‘Good people’ require little or no management time (“You want me to spend 30 minutes a week looking after our most important asset? Don’t you know I’ve got problems to sort out…Any way they know what they are doing and wnat me getting in the way…”)
  • ‘Mediocre people’ require little or no management time (“They do a decent job – as long as I don’t expect them to take initiative, make things better or use their common sense”).
  • ‘Bad people’ eat up hours of management time (“I have to be on their backs all the time – the problem is that you can’t sack anyone in this organisation…”)

This theory in action is a little bit like the moonwalking bear. Unless you look for it you won’t know its there.

Sorting out these problems requires a bit of structure, some commitment and a fair bit of courage.