People really are the most important asset


At Oriens we believe that people are always a business' most important asset.  Very easy to say - but extraordinarily difficult to live the values that truly underpin that "asset strategy". 

Getting the best out of people in an organisation will enable that organisation to excel beyond its peers, says Archie Garden, chairman at Oriens Advisors Limited.

At Oriens, we believe that people are always a business’ most important asset.  Very easy to say – but extraordinarily difficult to live the values that truly underpin that “asset strategy”.  I was fortunate enough to have recently been party to an excellent presentation by one of the senior HR leaders of the big four accounting groups. The key phrase from them being “we spend hours during the interview process extolling the virtues of the strength of an individual, and once we get them on board we spend the rest of the performance process concentrating on their weaknesses!”.

Performance management is so critical in leadership, but by that we truly mean celebrating success, learning from failures and listening to individuals. Getting the best out of people in an organisation will enable that organisation to excel beyond its peers.  How often have we rued the performance of individuals, spent hours figuring out how to get them to change their ways, followed months of formal dialogue to only find that in the interim our best person has gotten fed up and searched for pastures new.  There is a risk that an inordinate amount of time is spent trying to improve poor performance, instead of trying to improve and celebrate good performance.  The tools exist to “help individuals become successful in different organizations,” we say use them.

Increasingly the demographics of your workforce, and the future workforce will be important.  If, like me, you are entering the twilight of your career, you will be challenged to really understand the drivers of “Generation Z” ie those born in the 1990s.  Do you ban the use of social networking in your workplace if so you are cutting off the key communication tool used by these individuals.  Generation Z is eco-aware, is your organization also so eco-aware or is it lip service that is paid?  Is work/life balance appropriate?  At the other end of the scale, integrating Generation Z with Generation X (us aging baby boomers) will become an increasing challenge especially as we retire later.  The companies that can truly exploit these different drivers and values will have a greater chance of success and getting the best out of the wonders of diversity, “vive la difference”.

Getting the best out of people also includes being brutally honest about the competency model that is needed to run your business.  All to often companies in our industry find themselves top heavy with experts in various sectors of aviation technical expertise, but lack commercial expertise.  From the board down it is important that there is the right mix of commercial, financial, technological as well as aviation subject matter expertise.  A competency model should exist for your organisation which you can use to help with recruitment as well as training and developmental planning for your people.  In some cases of course, you may not need all of the competencies all of the time  which is when judicious use of consultancy or contract help would be appropriate. However make sure that these temporary assignments include a risk sharing element and success based fees which is something in Oriens that we firmly believe in.

There are plenty of other tools and support frameworks which will help with the “transactional” side of people strategies. Market based pay reviews; performance based remuneration structures; menu based remuneration packages are some examples. Other important weapons in the fight to improve performance are absolute clarity in objectives and role profiles.  Confusing the two also confuses individuals.  People do need to understand the bounds of their accountabilities, which is their role profile (or job description if you like) and what you want them to do (their objectives) and how you will measure them (their performance review).

At Oriens we genuinely believe that leadership and investment in values that underpin the importance of your people will be the ultimate value driver; the tools can come later.

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