The Lie Behind Employees Are Our Greatest Asset

Have you ever heard from an organization that our employees are our greatest asset? It seems that everywhere you look, there is a slogan, banner, quote, or leaders stating that employees are our greatest asset. This statement is used far too often by organizations trying to impress upon their employees the importance of them being part of a bigger team.

In a recent organizational town hall that I attended, the CEO said that very thing. However, the actions taken by the company, both before and after the town hall, spoke volumes as to what was the real motive behind the senior leadership. A company may say the words, and even believe the words wholeheartedly, but when the proverbial #$%& hits the fan, which “assets” do you think are impacted first? 

Simply put, assets tend to be a company’s greatest asset. Employees are a cost, and unfortunately, companies like the one this CEO represents tend to value assets and increased revenue far more than costs. This comment about employees being the greatest asset can be a particularly telling lie. This kind of platitude, rather than reassuring employees of their value to the organization, simply convinces them that you cannot be trusted to tell the truth!

Depreciation and Amortization of Employees

Assets in any organization have a depreciation and amortization schedule assigned to calculate asset value over time. Depreciation is the amount of asset value lost over time. Amortization is a method for decreasing an asset cost over time. By this definition, how does that make you feel to be called the greatest asset in your organization?

Is it any wonder why 75% of business transformations flat-out fail, resulting in an organization’s decline, failure, or their eventual extinction? A big reason for their failure? CEO’s and senior leadership teams who were not as diligent as they needed to be in creating an organization where employees feel valued, developed, trained, engaged, and trusted, not just another asset.

CEOs must understand that an organization’s culture represents the collective character, values, thoughts, emotions, beliefs and behaviors of your leaders and individual contributors. Your organization’s culture is a product of such factors as its’ history and how your leaders and individual contributors ascribe meaning and value to it as well as leadership style both legacy and current. This in turn is then reflected in the creation and implementation of your organization’s values, vision, mission, purpose, strategy, structure, and roles.

To truly engage employees and get their best, you need to see them, literally, as people, not as an asset. People have hopes, dreams, fears, and a whole range of other emotions. Let’s face it, corporations can be a pretty miserable place, or it can be a tremendously empowering place. The latter is far more enjoyable, but more importantly, it’s far better for business.


About the Author

Rich Baron is a Master Certified Intelligent Leadership Executive Coach with over 25 years of operational management and executive level leadership experience. Along with his coaching partner, Maikel Bailey, they bring over 50 years of executive coaching and leadership experience to the table.



Back to blog