When most people think of this word they think of stocks; the act of committing money or capital in order to gain financial return.  I tend to think it on a more personal basis; we need to invest in our people so that as a company we can create better products, provide better services and in turn create a better workplace that offers opportunity for growth and personal satisfaction.

Invest

It sounds great, “invest in our people”, but this type of investment takes patience and time.  This type of investment requires you to have some emotional stake in the game.  You have to take the time to get to know your people and they in turn have to get to know you.

The problem is this isn’t simple; people don’t come with a data sheet that shows their history of net profits, annual rate of return or their debt to equity ratio.  The average person doesn’t just blurt out in public their personal goals, dreams or the aspirations they have for their children, you have to invest some time to get to know them.

The strange thing is where this type of investment was common place three or four decades ago, today we have consultants who attempt to instruct these skills or worse yet short-cut the process with personality tests and skill profiles where people are labeled, placed in buckets and treated in a way that matches best with their profile.

How wonderful, rather than take the time to get to know someone let’s instead sort them into groups and address them clinically because the book I’m reading or my life coach told me this is what they would like.

If it were only that simple life would be easy, in fact how about this, before we hire people lets have them fill out a Meyers Briggs Type Indicator on line then we can pick just the people who fit the traits we like best of we do this we won’t have any problems.

Listen up, if you want continuous improvement, if you want people who are engaged in their work, people who care about quality, reliability and safety you might want to get to know them.

Today I want you to, invest some of your time in building relationships, and have some real conversations with people about hunting, camping, fishing, hobbies, high school sports and scouting.  One thing we all have in common is we all go to work to provide some kind of a life for ourselves or our family; it’s those relationships and those goals that motivate us to get out of bed in the morning.  We work because we care about the people love and the things we enjoy doing outside of work.

I want you to try becoming an old-fashioned boss, the guy who plays on a work softball team, who invites his crew and their families to his house for a BBQ, the one who takes one night a week to watch other people’s kids play sports or help build a wheel chair ramp for one of his workers elderly parents.  The kind of boss who can write a heartfelt letter of recommendation for someone’s child who wants to attend West Point and can do so with ease because he knows this family.

In 2014 I want you to invest in relationships that will become life-long friendships because friends you see have a stake in each other’s lives.  It’s called trust, people who trust each other, work harder, try harder and care more.  People who trust can’t and won’t let each other down because they have invested enough of themselves to care.

Dale Carnegie once said “You can make more friends in two months by becoming interested in other people than you can in two years by trying to get other people interested in you.”

In 2014 invest that time to get to know your people; the rate of return will by far exceed your wildest expectation.

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