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Employees Are the Assets Holders, Not the Assets

An asset is something that a person owns. Companies don't own employees, BUT employees own the assets companies need to be successful and profitable. What are those assets? Competence, skills, knowledge, behaviour, strengths, personality, their uniqueness. These are the assets, not the employee.

Now that we cleared this one up, we can have a very different conversation about performance & people management.

We mustn't look at people as our assets and try to manage them because this is the wrong approach. Instead, we must look at and manage the assets they bring to our organisations.

Once we understand that this is what we are managing - the assets employees bring - and not the actual person (that is more complex), we can have a new perspective and use asset management principles.

What is asset management?

"Asset management involves the balancing of costs, opportunities and risks against the desired performance of assets to achieve an organisation's objectives."


"Asset management is a systematic process of developing, operating, maintaining, upgrading, and disposing of assets in the most cost-effective manner."

When you detach the person from the asset, you see immediately that the disposal of the asset refers to the competencies and not to the person. Sometimes we need to unlearn and relearn because what we previously learnt or developed is no longer applicable.

When we look at competencies as assets, we immediately invest in them and do everything possible in line with our finances to ensure they are maintained and not depreciated.

Investing in the assets that people bring into organisations is like investing in a house refurbishment that results in increased property value or bottom line in the case of organisations. Companies are quick to invest in the nicest chair, buildings, and internal decor yet, are rather reluctant to invest in the assets that actually make them successful.

So no, people are not your assets. They are the owners of the assets you need to make your company successful and profitable, so it makes sense to invest in them, right? When they leave, will they take their asset with them, the ones you have invested in? Sure, so make sure they don't.

Check out more free ideas that help you think differently about your people management practices:

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