morning a student arrived in class moaning, "I'm so
sick I feel like I'm gonna puke my brains out."
The teacher replied, "How many times do I have to tell
you, it's not what you say but how you say it? The
next time you feel that way, simply say that you feel like
you're going to regurgitate your cerebral cortex."
With this advice in mind, some of the latest trends and
buzzwords in working with people indicate that whoever came
up with these concepts might have been temporarily suffering
from a cranial/rectal impaction. One of the latest
that I have encountered is the term "human
capital." My first reaction to this term was
quite similar to that of the student in the preceding
Of course, this term is largely used when funds are being
allocated for investing in the people of an organization.
But one wonders how long it will take before "human
resources" and "human capital" merge. At that
point, annual performance reviews and even wedding
anniversaries may begin to be assessed in terms of
appreciation or depreciation of value. After all, if
we are making an investment, we do check to see how our
investment is performing for us.
Evidence of this is contained in such metaphors as,
"He's got a lot of miles on him" or "This
relationship could use a new set of tires, Sam."
Many years ago changing the term "personnel" to
"human resources" was considered a positive move for many reasons.
One was that workers felt that companies placed more value
on its resources and its bottom line that the people who
accomplished the tasks to meet those goals.
Unfortunately, many organizations changed the term without
changing the behavior and attitudes that prompted the
original concerns. With the current terminology,
however, a question that comes to mind is, "on the ship
Amistad, who were the personnel and who were the
So now we have simple questions such as, "how many
people may I hire for this project," phrased as,
"what is the human resource allocation for this
project?" What we name something becomes
what it represents to us.
Over the years we have all watched people treating each
other more like objects and opportunities, rather than as
unique, precious human beings who are worthy and entitled to
be treated with dignity and respect. When I offer this
observation, regardless of how diverse the group, virtually
every person nods in agreement.
All people want and have the right to be treated with
dignity and respect as individuals. No exceptions.
We do not want to be resources, to have our talent managed
or to be viewed as collateral damage. We wish to feel
unique, useful, significant, accepted, appreciated, to
experience personal and professional growth, to know we have
made an impact that only we can make and to have it
recognized. Acknowledging those desires is perhaps the
greatest resource we have when we interact with others.
When it comes to "human capital" appreciation or
depreciation is a matter of choice, not chance. We
have that power.
"What in me is dark
Illumine, what is low raise and support."
- John Milton, Paradise Lost, Book I
Have a great day and be good to yourself! You deserve
Gail Pursell Elliott. All rights reserved.
Visit Gail at innovations-training.com.