Perhaps, there is not a single word said or written on human capital, as not being the most important asset of any organisation. All entities trumpet about its significance. Of them, some do so as a ritual; some mean what they claim about human resources importance and only the very few actually prove through practical steps to indicate the real value of this critical asset, that does not show on the balance sheet or the profit & loss account, but goes to making their numbers.
The development of human capital is the core responsibility of a leader - corporate or otherwise. Political leadership must rank the development of country’s human resources, as a cornerstone of its entire planning machinery and economic programmes. We hear politicians of all shades of hue and grey, almost claiming ownership of the youthful population of this Islamic republic, by oft quoting in their speeches that sixty five percent of our population is below the age of thirty years. This is our collective strength, they claim rightfully, but the proviso here should be are they “able and ready” to take and accept challenges across various sectors of the economy, society, and general administrative setup. So, undoubtedly, it is true, that we possess great potential. But this can be true practically, only when this resource is trained, properly tooled and educated across various disciplines; following which they must have the opportunity to be gainfully absorbed (employed). On their own, as they (youth) are now, it is a latent nuclear device, that can explode in the faces of these very politicians. The youth (human capital) needs guidance and training. And delay in doing so, will potentially result in their going wayward.
Organisation and corporate entities also need to garner a policy of developing their human resources factor into a technically and managerially competent workforce. The CEO must focus on building a learning culture within the entity. The test of the quality of human resource is made at the time of an annual appraisal exercise. If say upon evaluation, every single manager marks his/her report as “average performer”. Then it is a perfect case of the manager being at least an “average performer” himself if not the rightly deserved rating of “needs improvement”. If leaders cannot produce better managers than themselves, they ought to be rated accordingly. The blind leading the blind or the dumb trying to make the deaf hear is a reality that must be taken on with full force for creating an enlightened human resource base.
Human resources development is a natural consequence of an organisation’s culture. A colleague, in an earlier organisation, once told me, that his supervisor made the following remark, “you know what (?), I understand some of our teammates have time to read the newspaper!” The habit of reading for self improvement sounded to the supervisor of almost being an inexcusable act of corporate blasphemy. If this be the attitude towards learning by the powers that be in an organisation, then knowledge, expertise, proficiency and talent would reside or rather will remain interned with shackles, inside the cauldron of the forgotten colleagues, within an institution.
The culture of an organisation is dependent upon the individual attitude of its constituents towards their own respective definition of what constitutes culture? Culture is cultivated over long periods of time. It cannot be had from outside and enforced. It is not an off-the-shelf item that you buy to plug and play; it can only be infused through a conscious creative effort and approach that encourages an environment of generally improved working environment.
Human capital is an extremely engaging notion that has a canvas vast and wide, that includes people, ideas, and potential, both tangible and intangible. A trained manager will permit the growth of learning within the rank and file of his unit. This will lead to clarity of goals, objectives to be achieved and ensure a functional attitude of the entire organisation.
What is said loud or whispered inside the corridors of power in any organisation is reflective of the state of that entity’s culture of tolerance; which in turn is dependent on the quality of its human capital. Sometimes the basic design or the DNA of the organisation needs immediate correction, especially if it ignores or at worst promotes compromise of its values, norms, traditions and reputation.
Organisations ought to be talent magnets. Motivational and inspirational attitude of the supervisor is the key to the development of human resources. Give purpose, vision and identity to your colleagues and see the quality of what they produce. In securing total commitment towards achievement of corporate objectives, it is equally essential that inspirational attitude is not an incidental activity, but that it is and remains at the heart of everyday core function. Conscientious managers hold hand of their coworkers to develop them and make it difficult for them to transition back to being less than extraordinary workers. Each colleague must be trained to have a vision - unfortunately the wrongful emphasis by the board/promoters to have a vision/mission statement enshrined for the institution, has snatched away the natural urge and faculty to have a vision - people in the organisation start to feel that they are working for the vision & mission of either one man or at best, a board. They have no buy-in to someone else’s vision. This is so untrue and unnatural positioning. All staff must be encouraged to have a vision of their own relating to their sphere of work. The only catch here is that no individual vision should be in direct conflict with the institution’s vision.
A well developed, mature and learning company will essentially promote the thought when any individual is stripped of all his/her corporate credentials and badges; the only prominently surviving thing, ought to be integrity, morality and the quality of incorruptibility. Human capital is dependent upon the value system of the organisation. The soul and spirit of any entity must reflect its core values.
Each constituent must know enough on how to learn more. No learning culture can be established through legislation. It can only be brought about as a consequence of an engaging atmosphere and an enduring heritage of acquisition of the best principles of governance.Being part of recognised human capital should not be the privilege of the few. Its boundaries must coextend with introduction of fresh and dynamic blood in the organisation.
It is only through injudicious policymaking, that most of us as managers render very good and useful resources to redundancies. “A cultivated man, wise to know and bold to perform, is the end to which nature works” (Emerson). As managers, we must remain close to natural instinct.
Men are my teachers, said Plato.
The writer is a senior banker and a freelance contributor