Friday, May 29, 2009



There is no organization that would say that their people are NOT their most important assets. So, it looks like a common standard, an almost natural way of behaving. Let’s have a closer look from the perspective of future employees whether that is really the case.


People are our most important assets. What are “assets’? Probably the most accepted definition of an asset is the one used by the International Accounting Standards Board.  "An asset is a resource controlled by the enterprise as a result of past events and from which future economic benefits are expected to flow to the enterprise." This definition clearly indicates that organizations look at people from an accounting point of view. But they don’t follow up completely because in most organizations they don’t put people – as assets – on the balance sheet. In this respect people are a resource just like buildings or machines. Hence the talk about the ROI of people. People are treated as things, rather than as human beings, without whom the organization would be nothing than a name and (sometimes) a building. This happens inside an organization, people are goaled, measured and managed as things. So, they start to behave as things. Meaning that they don’t show initiative, they don’t come up with their own ideas, don’t show responsibility and so on. They just do what you ask them to do, nothing more and likely less. Most people feel that they are not valued at all, that their strengths and talents don’t matter and that they are treated as ‘disposables’. And this leads to job dissatisfaction, stress, burn out and sickness.


There also is an impact outside of the organization. Especially customers, suppliers and partners get an experience of how your employees feel and behave themselves. They experience an enthusiastic and engaged employee or an employee who acts as an asset only. Which one do you prefer?


The same is true for people who want to work for your organization, the job applicants. Many organizations list their job openings on their website or they advertise on special job boards. If you are interested you have to push the button ‘apply now’ and then you have to fill out a screen with your personal details and send your resume. That is it. You don’t know who you are addressing or who is following up. It feels like you are a number in the database only. This feeling is strengthened if there is a reply ( this is already a plus, because in more then 90 % of the cases you get no response at all), which is generated automatically. You will get this message: ‘This is an unattended e-mail account. Messages sent to this account will not be viewed.What does this tell me? Indeed that I am an asset, a thing. That no real person wants to communicate with me. I am now a part of the systems and I have to comply to the system. The system will review me and I should be honoured to be part of the system. Really?! Do I want to be treated impersonally? NO, not really. I am a unique human being with unique talents and I want to be treated as such. I want to communicate with a really human being as well and understand their needs and see whether there is a fit.


Sometimes the systems ask from you to do a test before your application is considered. So you do the test. But do you get the results of the tests. NO. They say ‘ you don’t understand the technicalities of the test. So we don’t give you feedback’. Okay, so I am not important…. I should be happy to work there and feel honoured to be treated as AN ASSET! And one-way traffic in communications is perfectly normal as well.

Is it? Is this normal, is this respectful?


It is  important to note that a job applicant could be a future colleague, customer, boss or even a friend. They might even be a customer of your organization right now. Why is a job applicant than treated differently than a customer? Or do you treat your customers also impersonally? Do you also treat your customers as if they should be honoured to be allowed to buy your products? Than you have a serious problem. But you ALSO have a serious problem if you treat your job applicants as objects instead of a unique talented individuals. These individuals could just be the missing link , the missing idea-generator , the missing added value for giving new impulses to your business.


Most of the time organizations will only look seriously at candidates when there is an open position, a formal slot. An open application is , like they say,  put into the database for future usage. It is polite way of saying that they can not use you now. And that you are expected not to bother them again. This can also be an expensive mistake! Because you might be needing that specific talent in a short while and than the applicant is likely to have chosen for another employer. This happened to Ajax when they rejected Sulejmani a year ago. They didn’t need him, and wrongly assessed his talents. He was offered for € 300.000,-. A year later Ajax needed him as his talents were flourishing and they had to pay more than € 16M for him!! Would you like to be responsible for such a ‘mistake’? This would never have happened if you always look at the potential of applicants for the future growth of your organization


Can you change the way job applicants (or maybe even customers) are treated? Of course you can! But first you have to change your view on people, your own people. No longer you have to see them as assets, but as individuals with unique talents. And once that is changed you will easily change the way you treat job applicants and … customers. In our daily life we say: Treat someone else the way you want to be treated. So this should also apply to business life as well!



Treat a man as he is and he will remain as he is; treat a man as he can and should be and he will become as he can and should be.



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