Leverage great ideas from your company’s best assets

We often use the phrase “Our Employees Are Our Greatest Asset,” but what do we mean when we make this statement?   I must admit, I don’t think I have ever heard a company actually define what they mean by employees being their greatest asset, and if it’s not defined, then chances are employees aren’t….

So, in researching my topic I did what any normal person would do in this day and age, and googled “Employees are our Greatest Asset” and wow – I see that this phrase has really hit a strong nerve!

People are our biggest asset concept with miniature models and lettersThe first link that came up was a People and Culture page of a company website.  Here’s what it said:

Our people are our greatest asset – we say it often and with good reason. It is only with the determination and dedication of our people that we can serve our clients, generate long-term value for our shareholders and contribute to the broader public.

The statement went on to say they focus on diversity in their employees to represent the diversity of their clients, invest in employees’ careers, maximize individual potential, reinforce the culture, and expand professional opportunities…but nowhere do they actually say WHY they consider their people are their greatest asset.  It’s kind of like saying “you did an amazing job so I’m going to give you a great bonus,” but not explaining what was actually done that made it so amazing.

Also in my research were articles expounding on the numerous reasons why Employees Are NOT Your Greatest Asset ranging from:

  • employees not being something that you should compare to an item on a balance sheet;
  • that only good performing employees are assets, but all others are liabilities;
  • to employees are not your greatest asset because they are disengaged and it is all the company’s fault…

Ok, well my intention with this blog is a little bit different.  

First of all, being more of a conceptual thinker, I want you to know I do not mean to insinuate that employees are a # on the balance sheet – I’m going for more of a metaphorical view.  But seriously, I think lots of companies truly would like to have their employees be their greatest asset, but they just don’t really know what that means – maybe because they haven’t thought it out

So my purpose and intention in this blog is to define Why and How employees can be your greatest asset. Let’s start with “why:”

WHY (your employees are your greatest assets):

#1 – Employees are the first line to your customers and have the ground-floor information on what, and how, your customers are thinking. This enables them to:

  • identify trends
  • anticipate customer needs
  • head off problems before they happen
  • know if and when you may need to pay some attention to a particular customer
  • make improvements based on customer feedback

#2 – Employees are the ones doing the work so they have feet-on-the-ground knowledge of how your organization is working together to get work done. This enables them to:

  • identify possible trouble spots
  • provide insights into optimizing processes
  • come up with and share new ideas
  • recognize cross-functional teamwork opportunities
  • offer suggestions for communication and information sharing
  • capitalize on things that are working well and share it with others
  • diagnose when things are not working well and let you know

There honestly is no way management can possibly know what is going on in the detailed daily life of their organization without asking employees for that information.

So, since they know that information, you need to ask yourself “do they tell us?”  If employees are your greatest assets, they do.

HOW (your employees are your greatest assets):

I firmly believe the intangible value made possible by employee actions is what makes employees your greatest asset.  Actions such as:

  • caring enough to go the extra mile to get something done
  • staying late to finish a last minute project because they know their boss needs the information first thing in the morning
  • telling people they meet how great it is to work at your company because they mean it
  • keeping eyes and ears attuned to new opportunities and ideas
  • spreading the word about your products and services to friends and acquaintances outside of work
  • taking outstanding care of your customers because they believe in, and consider themselves one with, your company
  • recognizing when there is crucial information that needs to be communicated up … and actually following through and making the effort to do so
  • feeling empowered to give the bad, as well as the good, news when it is important feedback to the company

and that can only happen if there is mutual trust and respect in your workplace – so how do you create that?

HOW (do you create trust and respect in your workplace):

When you examine the behaviors behind all those employee actions above, you come up with things like:

  • Ownership and Accountability
  • Initiative and Dedication
  • Pride, Value and Impact
  • Business Development and Savvy
  • Sales and Upsell
  • Creativity
  • Ultimate Customer Service
  • Proactive Communication
  • Effective Conflict Management

So, if that is what we want our employees to give us, then we need to do the same things for them.

If you are serious about empowering your Employees to be Your Greatest Asset,  I would encourage you to examine this final list and ask how are you as a company modeling, reinforcing and allowing your employees to act as your greatest assets?

Are you going the extra mile to help them succeed?

Do you give employees the ownership and accountability to carry out their responsibilities?  

Do you tell employees why you value them?  

Do you recognize their achievements?

Do you provide your employees with the ultimate customer service?

How do you react when employees provide you with good, and bad, news? 

  • Growth through innovation/creativity:
    Rather than be constrained by ideas for new products, services and new markets coming from just a few people, a Thinking Corporation can tap into the employees.
  • Increased profits:
    The corporation will experience an increase in profits due to savings in operating costs as well as sales from new products, services and ventures.
  • Higher business values:
    The link between profits and business value means that the moment a corporation creates a new sustainable level of profit, the business value is adjusted accordingly.
  • Lower staff turnover:
    This, combined with the culture that must exist for innovation and creativity to flourish, means that new employees will be attracted to the organization.
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