Instinctively, many managers would think of human-resource development to be on the top on the list. But is it right to do so? The answer depends on whether we see people empowerment as a need. This, consequently, defines the spending as "investment" or "expense".
Any veteran businessman would agree that raising capital is an easy start, but a tougher challenge is how to grow and sustain the business in an ever-increasing competitive environment. Who else could drive the organisation toward this goal if not its own competent human element? This mission justifies all efforts for employee development.
Like in any business investment, we need a strategic blueprint for staff development and that blueprint commands three challenges:
The first is to recruit the best. I follow the popular quote, "Hire people smarter than you". I always look for the best seeds to further fortify our corporate tree. We need talented staff who share our philosophy of business excellence and social conscientiousness; smart and ethical people are our top choices.
The next challenge is to empower those competent employees while motivating them to reach their fullest potential. We should provide opportunities for our people to grow personally and professionally. Over time, they would acquire the skills and knowledge to deliver better results and then strive for newer challenges.
The third challenge is retaining our valuable people. We should embody in each employee the sense of leadership and teamwork. Normally, job promotions come with new challenges. The higher the position, the tougher the role one has to master and, by then, coaching and leading teams are indispensable qualities.
A manager must be a good coach, not a boss. It is obvious that the success of any global business giant is driven by talented, visionary leaders who lead their team of smart employees to deliver more qualitatively and quantitatively. Along with increasing productivity, this can mean significant cost reduction in terms of operations, training and incumbent replacements. While business grows, people grow.
Undoubtedly, the workforce out of this blueprint may be varied, but high-quality people become the majority. Some employees may decide to leave after certain skills are acquired, and I would prefer to capture this movement as the relocation of human elements. Their values are innate and could be accumulated and shared by colleagues regardless of where they work.
Managers, I would reiterate that investing in people is not a loss-end spending; it is a worthy investment that returns benefits to all stakeholders, the individual, business operation, community and the progress of the nation.