People are our most important asset…kinda…sorta
It’s that time again. The economy appears to be in recovery at least from a profitabiity view point. Not much of a dent has been made in unemployment but hiring will pick up as will the speeches about people being our most important asset. Which brings me to the old court room climactic moment when the prosecuting attorney intones to a witness who has given conflicting testimony, “So Colonel Mustard, which time were you telling the truth?”
This is the uncomfortable place where business leaders find themselves today. “Mr./Ms. CEO, when were you telling the truth? When you treated employees like commodities by cutting support staffs , not filling open positions, pouring on the workload and minimizing salary adjustments to please the marketplace…or when you said that people were you most important assets and you did very little to back that up?
Meantime the CEO has been advised that transparency is what employees want especially the younger ones (gen y). So he talks about the turn around in business and increased profitability. His intentions are to let people know that the company is going to be around. Yet the employees won’t be partaking in this largess except at the very highest levels and there are no guarantees that the employees will have jobs even if they do a superior job. So the transparency just leaves them dissatisfied if not annoyed.
Is this just a description of life from now on? It doesn’t have to be. Those of us in leadership positions have to do some soul searching because our employees are suffering from “cognitive dissonance”. This social science term means that the words and music don’t match; there is a gap between what we say and what we do. Our empleoyees feel like they are being treated as commodities while we in leadership say they are assets to be invested in.
I don’t have any solutions to present today. This is just the beginning of a series of postings about how we can change some fundamental ways we think about people…how we can eliminate “cognitive dissonance” and still make plenty of money as a business.