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Should businesses refer to their people as ‘our biggest assets’?

I often hear companies state that “our people are our biggest asset” and for me it is an early indicator that there is work to do with that organisation! Here’s why…



The whole concept of referring to people as ‘assets’ risks depersonalising them and ‘lumps’ them all in together with our other business assets. With this terminology comes a whole range of implicit implications – we ‘asset strip’ companies, we ‘streamline assets’, we put monetary value on assets. So by referring to our people as ‘assets’ we demote them to a business tool or piece of equipment, rather than the creative, inspiring, innovative individuals they have the capacity to be. The message that this subconsciously conveys is that our people can be ‘sold off’ or discarded like an outdated piece of machinery. 

Research shows that people like to feel valued (Blackford, 2016) – they like to be recognised for their contribution and appreciated for their input. Listening to our people, engaging with them, recognising them authentically allows us to understand what is going on in our organisation and taps into the creativity across the whole organisation to find the right solutions to the challenges faced. Developing our leaders in skills around Emotional Intelligence, NLP and Transactional Analysis enables them to confidently and authentically engage with their teams and get to know each and every individual. From there we have the capability to tap into the specific skills each of our people bring to the business, and to inspire and motivate them in a way that is meaningful to them. 

Neglect your people at your peril!!

It is through engaging with and working with our people in this way that we can truly begin to evolve towards excellence, organisational effectiveness and becoming a High Reliability Organisation. 

More to follow on some of the topics raised in this reflection, so keep an eye out…


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