CEOs often say “People are our greatest asset!”
Do they really mean it? Or do they just say it because people expect them to say it?
John Gibbons, a columnist for the Institute for Corporate Productivity just wrote a diatribe about it. The first part of his piece described my own suspicious reaction to a CEO spouting on about people are “critical to his company’s success.” Their actions before and after such a statement too often belie their commitment to its principle.
People, in the eyes of too many senior managers, are replaceable. The costs of recruitment and the disruption of turnover are soft costs that are hard to capture, unlike the replacement cost of computers or other harder assets.
As Mr. Gibbons notes, when you can quantify the costs of staff turnover, or of increased productivity through human development, you get a senior manager’s attention. How, though, do you go about gathering the hard data to prove the value of employee productivity enhancement training?
Here is where I take exception to one aspect of Mr. Gibbon’s rant: You don’t need lay in expensive analytic structures (often software solutions) to start properly measuring the impact of better human capital development investments. You simply need to engage the participants in measuring their own success. It is a win-win-win. Through rigorous tracking and reporting of behavior changes and the results generated:
- The employee sees the results of his or her empowerment, and is encouraged to further excel. (We have lots of case studies that back this up.)
- Their bosses burnish their reputations as good leaders, and are encouraged in their commitment to employee development
- The company gains documentable financial advantage through the innovations that the participants generated by being more engaged and productive.
For over twenty years, Bovo-Tighe has made tracking of productivity improvements a mandatory part of every engagement it runs with clients because we want senior executives to understand the power of investment in human “assets.” Perhaps software tracking and analytics might make that task a little easier, but it is still people who must be motivated to interact with the software to make the reports it generates meaningful.
Before he got into his sales pitch for “Evidence-Based Human Resources,” that is what Mr. Gibbon was getting at!