Just read an interesting article in Strategy + Business magazine. Rethinking the Value of Talent by the Chairman and CEO of Manpower, Inc. (and a former senior VP of Strategy of the same company) makes some interesting points....
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The opening premise of the article is excellent, in my opinion.
"If companies managed financial assets as carelessly as they do human assets, then shareholders, auditors and regulators would come down hard on them for inefficient use of funds. Yet although it is commonly accepted that individuals are crucial to an organization's success, many companies cannot measure their employees' contributions to corporate value".
The authors of the article then go on to give their view as to the reasons this is the case in companies, and state that: "We believe that businesses need a far better understanding of the strategic value of employees; it is critical to success in the global marketplace. A company's future growth and competitiveness depend more than ever on attracting qualified workers–an increasingly scarce resource–and helping them work efficiently together within the organization".
So far, so good. The article then demonstrates that within each of the four employee talent segments it outlines, the age-old "herd mentality" prevents companies from classifying employees in the same job function according to the intangibles such as unique experience and personal qualities that make some personnel more "business critical" than others. There can be no doubt that not all employees and their talents can be valued in the same way.
However, after this I think the authors go awry. They cite four employee (talent value) segments in this manner: creators, ambassadors, craft masters and drivers. It is the second group that got my attention.
* Ambassadors. According to the authors, these people are the corporation's "public face" and they are directly responsible for "customer experience". And this is where things go awry: ". . .these workers are easily replaceable and their skills do not have to be particularly sophisticated, but if they don't do their job well, the business can suffer significantly".
In my view, if those employees who represent the corporate brand to the customer are considered "easily replaceable" in management's view, this goes counter to their perceived importance as the "public face" of the company. Can it be said on the one hand that these people deliver substantive value, yet, are easily replaceable? That "if they don't do their job well, the business can suffer significantly", yet, they are easily replaceable?
The corporate brand is only as strong as the company's ability to deliver on the brand promise and to craft meaningful customer experiences. Any and every employee who interfaces with the customer is part of the branding, ergo the value-building process. In fact, every employee in the company who doesn't interact with the customer is part of crafting the overall corporate brand, as well, since their job performance has a direct impact on the company's product or service offerings and its public perception. This impact can be good or bad.
Good employees who have longevity, history, commitment, a strong work ethic and develop their talents within a company add significantly to corporate and brand value. Many companies invest substantially in internal branding training for middle and upper managers in the corporate structure. It takes time and financial resources to initiate this process. After all, every brand starts on the inside and projects outward. Companies that really want to augment their brand value, should regard their employees (human capital) as their most important assets. Employees are either a positive or negative force, and directly impact corporate valuation. And there's nothing equivocal about that.
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