A friend has a new job and it is a pleasure to watch how much she is enjoying the new position and the online training course that teaches her the skills she will need. This week she posted a screenshot from the course saying “our employees are our most important asset!” and commented it with a huge smiley.
It is nice that the company writes such a slogan, great that our friend is so motivated to read it but unfortunately, in my opinion, totally untrue.
To begin with a company requires one vital “asset”
Without customers the business is just a hobby and its lifespan will be very limited. Companies exist to serve their customers. Many of them have forgotten this but, take away the customers and the company is dead.
Secondly a business needs liquidity which is a polite way of saying
Even a one man start up, living in his mothers spare bedroom needs to eat, reach out to his customers and survive. He can borrow some money or earn a living in his “real job” but if the company is going to be successful it needs to make a profit.
And finally, with customers to serve and enough money to afford them, a business needs
Employees keep customers satisfied and that ensures income. Employees become the heart of the company and are the humans who drive it forwards.
But at the latest now, with customers, money and employees, it is impossible to say that one of them is “the most important asset“. Together they are the three legs that support a triangular table. If a leg is too short the table will no longer be level and if a leg is removed, then the table crashes to the floor.
For a good leader the challenge is now to decide from moment to moment which of his three assets is the most important.
- A difficult customer who doesn’t pay his debts?
- A project that will end up costing money?
- An employee who poisons the team?
I would suggest that all three are equally important. Each of them has to be dealt with immediately. customers, money and employees are each vitally important and any conflicts between the three need a situative, fact based solution.
And if the company has good, motivated employees, then the leader can expect the first two problems to be solved for him but the third – the employee – remains his task.