Are People Mistreating Your Most Important Asset?

Raise your hand if you have a policy against mistreating company assets, most likely detailed as company equipment.

Raise your hand if you hold people accountable if they mistreat company assets, most notably equipment.

We all say that our people are our more important asset, right?   Raise your hand if you hold people equally accountable for mistreating your company’s most important asset:  PEOPLE.

I attended a workshop last week where Scott Warrick began the morning with this thought-provoking analogy, likening it to someone kicking the copier at work.  The consensus in the room was that the person would be disciplined for damaging company equipment.  A lot of money goes into the care and maintenance of equipment.  However, we don’t always do the same with managers of our people.

In a past life in my career, I worked in manufacturing.  In manufacturing, we allocated considerable expense toward preventative maintenance and training on proper handling of our equipment.  It’s an investment we want to protect, right?

Compared to costs of labor, however, it’s a pittance.

When you think about it, combining wages, benefits, recruitment costs, retention initiatives, taxes, travel reimbursement, training, turnover expenses, etc., your costs of labor could be 60% of the budget.

We spend so much on the preventive maintenance and training of proper handling of our equipment, yet we promote individual contributors to management roles and do not ensure the proper training to prevent damage to our most important asset – our people.

It is our responsibility as leaders to hold others accountable for the proper care and handling of our people.  It is our responsibility as an organization to ensure that our managers have the proper training to appropriately care for the people we have entrusted to them.  We cannot simply take the highest performer in an area and promote them to a manager without providing tools and training.  Chances are, in order to be the high performer of that area, considerable time was dedicated to honing their craft – whatever that may be.  People inherently want to perform well.  When someone goes from individual contributor to manager, we must provide the tools and resources to succeed in that role, and then we must hold them accountable.

Fostering a culture of accountability is not enough, though.  We must also make it safe to have those conversations.  When left to their own devices, people tend to exhibit the behaviors they have previously observed or been taught.  If a manager has been adopted some poor habits, particularly regarding communication with their team, we do that manager a disservice by not addressing it.

We must pay attention to the data, particularly with trends in movement inside and outside the organization.  Do you have a department that has high transfers out and turnover?  Are you conducting exit interviews prior to departures or transfers?  Better yet, are you performing stay interviews to be proactive in retaining your talent?  What are you doing with the information?  Are you prepared to address the seemingly indispensable toxic producer or are you willing to continue to sacrifice talent to keep them happy?

All of our employees are counting on us to provide a safe work environment – physically and otherwise.

Please train your leaders to handle with care, and please have the courage to address those that don’t.

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