Employees as Assets?

Read any organization annual statement or listen to any executive talk about his organization and you'll hear a familiar refrain - "we believe our employees are our most valuable asset".

On the surface, this appears to be a compliment. I always took it as a positive thing (even when I didn't think the executive was being honest). Lately, I've been re-evaluating that position.

Inky Johnson, a motivational speaker, has a saying:

"Value people, not things - Use things, not people."

An asset at its core, is a thing. It is a positive thing, but a thing nonetheless. We use assets. Those who would argue that we value assets miss the end of that sentence - we value assets because of how we can use them. They become currency of some sort.

People are not assets. They are people. We need to value them as people and understand their strengths and shortcomings. Stop focusing on how we can get the most out of them; start focusing on how we can help them be most fulfilled.