The Greatest Risk and The Greatest Asset

I am, of course, talking about people.


If you look at the root cause of almost every failure or missed opportunity, it comes down to people.

Yet, we don’t pay nearly enough attention to whether we have the right people in the right jobs. You could add to that ‘the right information and authority, but that is provided by people too.

The Human Resources department is supposed to help everybody hire the right people, train and develop them, and (if necessary) fire people.

But my experience is that they usually get in the way.

They prevented me from hiring the best people for the job I needed to be done because (a) I wanted to pay them too much in their opinion (based on surveys of positions that were not comparable), (b) I wanted to call them managers (because that is what they were in their last job and reflected the authority and level they would have in this one) but they would have no staff, or (c) they gave preference to people who were not the best candidates, but had been with the company longer or met diversity goals. (I make no apologies for putting excellence ahead of diversity.[1])

When I was a vice president in IT, I completed the annual performance appraisals for my direct reports. All were rated 4 or 5 on a 5-point scale. HR said this was unacceptable and sent my boss, the senior vice president, CIO, to tell me to change it. My rating had to fit a predetermined pattern with only so many at each level, and I needed some to be rated below average – even though none of them were. I knew that such an unfair process would significantly affect morale and I would lose very valuable people.

The SVP told me I couldn’t rate everybody at that high level, so I asked him to name the best performers in his entire department of several hundred. Read more:

You can also read this: Banks tout CCAR-style stress tests for emergent risks

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