“People are your most important asset.”

We hear this saying all the time. So much that we hardly even stop to consider whether it’s true.

While I agree that our people are valuable…the phrase actually misses the point entirely!

Allow me to explain.

Think About What Asset Really Means

An asset is something you own. But you don’t own your people.

Assets also depreciate over time. If your people are delivering less and less value over time, you’re in big trouble!

So is this really the right attitude to have towards our people?

Our relationship with our people dramatically changes the amount of value they provide our business.

What if we looked at people not as assets…but as investments?

People Are Your Most Important INVESTMENT

We get real value from our people when we treat them as an investment.

Think finance again.

If you’re constantly investing in something, you get far greater returns than an asset that depreciates year after year.

The results compound over time.

Likewise, we get incredible value from investing in our people for the long-term. I’m not talking about basics like salary and benefits either. By investing in our people with career development, leadership training, skills training, and other personal growth opportunities, you get a ton of value.

The Rewards of Investing in Your People

People deliver greater returns for your company as they become more skilled and grow personally through your investment in them as people, not just employees.

They also learn firsthand that your business is serious about helping get the best FOR them…not just FROM them. As a result, people are far more likely to stick around long-term.

It’s not cheap to invest in your people. It’s not the most cost-effective solution for the short-term.

But in the LONG-TERM, the value you get from retaining people who are growing and becoming better at their jobs every year is phenomenal!

And let‘s not forget the tremendous growth in leadership you get from training and developing employees over a long period of time.

…But You Have to Make Smart Investments!

One of the biggest reasons why businesses can be hesitant to invest heavily in their people is a history of diminishing returns in this area.

Much like with finance, some investments in your people will lead to better returns than others.

One of the most common mistakes in this regard is investing in your people without taking the time to understand what they want.

You can’t help someone grow into a more valuable member of your team if you don’t know what makes them “tick.”

And furthermore, investing in your people is a dead-end if you don’t have strong leadership at every level of the organization.

The Leadership Triangle

When considering investment in your teams, I advocate for a three step approach.

First, you must develop your leaders. It doesn’t matter how much someone likes their job or grows at the company, ineffective leaders will drive them away all the same. 95% of the time, our performance challenges stem from our leaders!

Next, you have to work on truly understanding your people. What do success and growth look like to your teams? Not everyone wants to be on the management track. We all have different priorities and ideas of what “success” means.

Some people want more money, some people want more work-life balance, and others are perfectly content where they are. The key is to have each person define what these elements mean to them!

Developing your people only works if you help them work toward THEIR vision of success and growth. Otherwise, you’re throwing money down the drain!

Once you’ve invested in your leaders and worked to really understand your team, you can invest in training programs, personal growth opportunities and more…and the results will pay off big time.

Investing for the Future

Your people are the future of your company. How you treat and develop them today could be the difference between tremendous growth or stagnation.

Helping a team grow is not an easy process and it can be very expensive – but as John Maxwell once said, “everything worthwhile in life is uphill.”

Speaking from experience, I can assure you it’s worth every minute and every penny!