People Are Critical to Our Success. Really?
Today I’m thinking about assumptions. I’m thinking about a very common assumption that is in every mission statement or corporate values statement. It is usually a variation of:
“Our employees are our most important asset”
“We value our employees”
“Talent is essential for our success”
Someone outside of HR asked me why we even need to mention people in mission statements. Isn’t it a given that people are a critical differentiator?
I might agree. It feels like we shouldn’t have to call out the value of our people. It feels like most organizations and leaders “get it.” But is that really the case?
I think it’s important to keep calling out the value of our people because so often we forget. We don’t do this intentionally but as a whole, various departments (HR, IT, Purchasing, Accounting) can create an environment very much focused on rules and not on helping people do their best work. If people are our true differentiator why do we make it so difficult for them to get work done? A few examples:
Blocking Social Media – yes there are companies that still do this. Social media gets blocked because it is perceived as a productivity waste. And for some people it is. So block it for those people. Mature adults can use Twitter and LinkedIn to follow influencers in their field, interact with others doing similar work and generate new ideas.
Everyone gets the same “stuff” – Stuff is the equipment we use to do our jobs. It could be computers or desks or cubes or wall art. To make things easier and cheaper, some group typically decides on “standards,” you cannot get anything but the standard without an act of congress. There are standard programs for your computer, standard desks and cubes. It does not matter if you would be more productive standing all day instead of slouching in your chair…you cannot have a stand up desk.
My point here isn’t to deride organizational policies but it is to ask a very important question: How important are the people in our organizations? If they are our most valuable asset why do we put up roadblocks? Why do we make it difficult for them to work? What are you, in HR, doing to help people do their best at their job?