I had a couple of minutes in the lobby, so I was looking at all the teamwork posters on the wall.
Our people are our most important asset!!
I had seen this poster a hundred times, but for the first time, it struck me as odd. I was working with the management team to find a new Senior Project Manager. The last one didn’t work out so well and by the time they figured it out, they almost lost their biggest customer. I was having difficulty getting them to spend the right amount of time on the job description, defining the management skills necessary for this position. The last guy had the technical skills, but none of the management skills.
As I entered the conference room, I asked the management team if they agreed with the poster in the lobby. Being politically correct, they were quite enthusiastic in their support.
I reminded them of Collins book Good to Great and asked them again, “Are our people our greatest asset?”
This team has been around me for a while, so they know when I ask a question a second time, their first response may need some rethinking. As I looked around the table, I could see the wheels churning. Finally, someone took a stab at it.
“Our people may not be our greatest asset. The right people are our greatest asset. The wrong person may be our biggest liability.”
“Good,” I replied. “Sometimes it takes a bad hire for us to realize how important this up-front work is. So, let’s get to work. What is the capability required for the level of work? What are the skills, knowledge and behaviors necessary for success in this position?”