Gearing up for growth part 6 – your people assets

HighFive.jpg"Our people are our most important asset".  Most business owners have made this statement or even incorporated it as such in the core values of their business.  But what does it mean and what are the implications of this statement if we wish to put it into practice?

An asset is something to which a value can be ascribed.  If, therefore, we refer to our staff as an asset, this implies a quantifiable value, locked up in the intrinsic capacity (intellectual capital) of our staff, their output capacity (the number of ‘units’ they can produce of my product and/or service) and their passion for my business (something that is not directly measurable).

Some elements of our “people asset” can therefore be quantified, but there is also an “invisible” value that is not directly measurable.  This touches on the second element of “leadership”.

The ability of the leaders and managers of the business to mobilise the human resource largely depends on their interpersonal skills.  Below are a few hints on how to establish a motivated staff corps:

  • Know what your staff is thinking – Create opportunities once or twice annually to receive anonymous feedback from them by having them complete feedback forms and placing these in a container at Reception.  Questions could include: 
    • What makes working at XYZ enjoyable?
    • What makes working at XYZ unpleasant?
    • If you were the boss tomorrow, what would you change at XYZ?

Important – Listen, interpret and apply what is sensible.  Give public credit if you implement something suggested by your staff.  Avoid any malicious searching for the culprit if you receive negative feedback.

  • Give acknowledgement where it's due – sometimes a “thank you” in front of colleagues, or a note of acknowledgement, or a small present could be the activities that have the most motivational value.
  • Do regular performance assessments.  This would ensure that individual targets are realistic and also in line with the general business targets.  Be consistent in your approach and also fair in your treatment of all employees.
  • Involve your employees in decisions that will have an effect on them.
  • Give your employees a reasonable amount of authority and control. Enrich their work, so that it remains interesting and fulfilling.
  • Support your staff during times of change in the business – help them to strive towards a balance in their work/personal life and to manage stress.
  • Pay your employees a competitive salary, appropriate bonuses and fringe benefits.

These and many more ways can be used to treat staff fairly and with respect and you may be pleasantly surprised with the “returns” your business receives from your “people asset”.

Written by Jannie Rossouw, Senior Business Manager: Sanlam Cobalt

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