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Published:November 23rd, 2007 12:36 EST
Is it an Asset or a Liability?

Is it an Asset or a Liability?

By Simon Bailey (Mentor/Columnist)

Have you noticed that your work has come under more scrutiny lately? Do you often get the feeling that you`re under surveillance? Does your boss micromanage you?

If so, you`re not alone.

So what`s going on? Why does it seem as if Big Brother is constantly watching over your shoulder?

The bottom line is that your organization wants higher performance from you. It wants employees who are assets (something of value) rather than liabilities (something that is a disadvantage or a drawback) to the company.

The leaders in your organization, from your boss to the CEO, are asking the question, Are we getting maximum value from our employees? " But your leaders don`t want you to work more hours. And they`re not necessarily looking for more productivity, " although they certainly wouldn`t turn that down! No, what they really want is for you to use your mind to create more value, thereby moving the business forward. In other words, they want you to think, think, think rather than automatically do, do, do.

Your CEO must continually create value for, and answer to, stockholders, shareholders and stakeholders who have an interest in your organization. And there`s a good chance that outside consulting companies are whispering in your CEO`s ear, telling him or her to increase profits per employee. Of course, one way to improve profit per employee is to simply get rid of low-profit employees. Another way is to increase the number of high-profit employees.

Consider the following: In 1984, GE employed 330,000 people, and about 20 percent of those were either managers or professionals. By 2004, GE had reduced its workforce to 307,000, but the percentage of professionals and leaders had increased to 55 percent-- an increase of approximately 100,000 professionals and managerial types! As a result, GE`s profit per employee per year more than quadrupled, from $12,500 in 1984 to $54,000 in 2004. In addition, its market capitalization increased from $47 billion to $386 billion (that`s 825 percent!), while its book equity increased 482 percent.

This example came from a powerful book I`ve been reading-- Mobilizing Minds by McKinsey & Company consultants Lowell Bryan and Claudia Joyce. One of the authors` premises is that people are the key to business growth in the twenty-first century. A decade-long study by McKinsey & Company found that while the total market capitalization of the largest 150 companies grew 11 percent per year, the top 30 of these companies experienced a 22 percent increase in market capitalization and net income. What was the difference between the top 30 and rest of the pack? The value of thinking-intensive workers, men and women who used their intangible assets-- their knowledge, reputation, relationships and talent-- to drive growth.

Many of us work in a do-more-with-less corporate environment. I understand that you likely feel stressed and as if there are not enough hours in the day. The last thing you want to hear is management asking if you`re making a difference and how you`re driving value for the organization. I know, I know "you want to choke on the buzzwords. And yet, my friends, that is the reality we live in. So you have two choices: you can change or be left behind and left out.

My advice? Change! But don`t do it to satisfy corporate mandates or put more money in shareholders` pockets. Change because it`s the best thing for YOU! When you develop yourself and drive more value for your organization, you win more than the organization does. Why? Because you build your personal brand and become more marketable, both internally and externally. You become an A-Level Player, coveted by organizations looking to fill their ranks with high-profit employees.

Here are some ideas to help you develop yourself, become a more thinking-intensive contributor and maximize your asset value:

  • Self-awareness is key, so put your truth on the table and ask "are you currently an asset or a liability to your organization? What do you do with your eight-to-ten-hour days? Do you simply justify your paycheck, or do you create value over and above your responsibilities and duties?

  • Stop wasting time! According to Mobilizing Minds, a majority of workers waste one-half to two days each workweek on unproductive emails, voicemails and meetings. Imagine the value you could deliver if you simply leveraged all the time you spend at work. Start by deleting unproductive emails without reading them. Don`t waste even 30 seconds on them. (Of course, this is not one of them. Smile!) Limit the message time on your voicemail and train people to get to the point in a minute or less. And finally, get creative and find ways to take yourself out of meetings that drag on and accomplish nothing.

  • Leverage your brilliance, your genius and your potential. When working on any task or project, ask yourself, Is this the highest and best use of my time and my talent? "

  • The person who knows how " will always have a job, whereas the person who knows why " will always be an A-Level Player. It`s not enough to know how to complete your job responsibilities. If you intend to grow yourself as an asset, then you need to know the how and the why. You must understand why you do what you do-- why your role is important to internal and external customers and to the organization as a whole.

  • Become a self-directed learner and take ownership of your development. The new business model values knowledge and innovation over length of service. Set aside time each week to reaffirm and polish what you already know, as well as discover and learn new skills.

  • Be intentional in developing your network beyond what it is today. Cross pollinate " both internally and externally. Your reach should extend far beyond your department and organization.

  • Become an entrapreneur. Consistently identify ways to use your talents and skills to drive value. Being fluid is the mark of a true professional.

  • Think about what you do and how you can do it better. Anyone can be a thought-intensive worker, no matter his or her position in the organization. In fact, the front line often has the potential to create the greatest impact on the bottom line.

  • Expand your role. Are you contributing more today than when you were hired? Your job should evolve over time. If you work for an organization that is growing and thriving, your job description should be expanding. You should be a key part of how things get done.

Why am I bringing all this to your attention? It`s simple "I am in your corner, and I want you to release your brilliance. Some of you have relaxed for far too long. Now you must urgently begin to find your inner Madagascar " and Move it "Move it "Get to it! " (If you haven`t seen the animated family movie Madagascar, rent it and you`ll know exactly what I`m talking about.)

The most important resource in the entire universe is YOU. Products, services, innovation, ideas, breakthroughs-- they all exist in your head, your heart and your hands. The output of your thinking, the engaging of your heart and the enlistment of your hands create profound results.

Simon Believes "You truly are the greatest asset.

Simon can be reached at 972-899-3411, by e-mail at or by visiting his website at or