Let us never forget, minimize or trivialize the value of human capital these days. An internet dictionary defines human capital as “the skills, knowledge and experience possessed by an individual or population, viewed in terms of their value or cost to an organization.” An interesting description! I think that we are far too busy these days trying to categorize generations and groups of individuals by assigning characteristics and shortcomings, rather than learning and embracing the valuable skills, knowledge and experience held by our new workforce.

I’m not sure if many managers, let alone organizations today, put a lot of value or emphasis on identifying the key attributes within their company that their employees possess and bring to the table. As a matter of fact, I think a large majority of leadership in our organizations today are more comfortable giving orders than they are able to understand, engage and develop employees to their fullest potential and value. Hmmm…imagine that?

In my opinion, we categorize some generations as too old and stuck in the ways of the past, but we fail to see that these glimpses into the past can be a valuable insight into how a customer of that age group thinks and what they expect or want from our business. We make assumptions that millenials are too sensitive and entitled, and yet they have excellent insight into what today’s customers expect from business and what the future will look like for our service-focused businesses. We believe that some generations are afraid to make a commitment to our company or stay the duration, but we fail to even attempt to meet their expectations of involvement, respect, challenge and recognition in order for them to excel in their lives, careers and endeavors.

My point is this. The true value of human capital lies in our ability to identify, capture and utilize it to the fullest. It takes a keen mind and a lot of patience to achieve this level of engagement with your workforce. This effort starts at the time of recruitment and hiring, through a thorough and well thought out evaluation and interview process, so that your candidates are chosen for the skills you need and direction that you are going. 

It also takes a sharp mind and method to extract the valuable qualities and information that you desire from your new employee, and then to engage them and provide proper support and reinforcement in order for that individual to flourish. This analysis process will involve frequent and casual conversations about interests, the best leadership style for them and their personal goals so that an understanding can be achieved between you both. It also requires a give and take mentality. It doesn’t hurt to infuse your efforts with positive reinforcement, appreciation and genuine and sincere feedback on accomplishments and contributions.

I believe that the best of what our new human capital has to offer is yet to be discovered and uncovered. I think that we may pass judgment on others from preconceived notions and assumptions about them, when we should instead be engaged in the learning process ourselves. The most successful managers of the future will learn to put their biases and prejudices aside and recognize that “the way we’ve always done it” is not the way of the future. It is important that we change our thinking, embrace our differences, and find the potential in each and every individual for the benefit of the organization, the business and the future of our unique and brand new human capital-infused workforce. 

HR Question of the month: Please send your HR questions and concerns, or share your thoughts on your human resources challenges via email to the following address. Send input to vegaslinda89129@yahoo.com. Your comments, questions or concerns will help determine the direction for my next month’s column and earn you a copy of my book. Include your mailing address when sending your responses.