Why is Human Capital a Top Challenge in 2014? Again.

CEO’s have once again listed human capital as their top challenge for 2014. Woo hoo! Victory for HR! And what specifically are they worried about? 1. Insufficient talent coming in and 2. Insufficient leadership talent.  This all sounds great right? Focus on your people, develop your people, and you will move your business forward. We can now wash our hands of this and move onto “real business activity.” I say wait a minute…

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Did CEO’s just recently find out that even an automated process had to be created by a person? Is corporate America unaware that the movie “her” is a fictitious film? Outside of the beginning of time, regardless of how you think that came to be, every product, service, or idea came from someone’s mind. This logic makes it seem necessary to declare that PEOPLE MATTER. If people didn’t exist there would be no products, services, or ideas. And voila, I give you the year 2014 and the biggest challenge in a CEO’s mind is still human capital, but why?

We as humans have this inherent uncertainty and that level of uncertainty is magnified when your name is tied to the bottom line of your business, Mr. or Mrs. CEO. There’s pressure for your people to perform. Can you trust them? You want to… but there’s just something that’s keeping you from fully committing.

We can find this inherent uncertainty when we watch historical events. One thing we cannot change is history, unless you have a Delorean of course. However, as we watch instant history replays, we know the outcome and yet we may still be unsure if that outcome will come to fruition. Don’t believe me?

Example 1: Argo

In the film, as the hostages and Ben Affleck’s character were navigating the airport in Iran, slowly making their way through security with bogus identification, I was clenching the armrest in the movie theater, probably perspiring, and unknowingly grinding my teeth, rooting for the fake film crew to make it out of Iranian airspace. Well folks, they made it! The only problem is, I already knew they would make it, everyone did. However, if you were recording a video of me watching you would have thought I was watching live events on a newscast.

Christipher-Dunham-Clea-Du-Vall-Tate-Donovan-Rory-Cochrane-Kerry-Bishe-and-Scott-McNairy-in-Argo

Example 2: 1983 National Championship NC State Buzzer Beater

I have probably watched the clip of the three-point prayer thrown up by Dereck Whittenburg, that is then snatched out of the air by Lorenzo Charles and dunked for the win about 124 times. Yet again, here I am wondering if the prayer will fall to the ground, short of the bucket. Maybe this time Charles isn’t around? Maybe this time, Houston boxes out? Nope. NC State wins every time.

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Example 3: Nik Wallenda

If the name doesn’t ring a bell, this is the guy who walked across the Grand Canyon on a tightrope in June of last year. It was a television event on the Discovery Channel garnering 8.5 million viewers. The big players in TV were reluctant to show a live account, as they were uncertain if Mr. Wallenda would fall to his death. If you can watch a replay of this event and not have your heart rate spike as he’s wobbling 1500 feet above the ground, I congratulate you and also question whether or not the FBI has trained you. It’s one of the most stressful and anxious videos to watch and you more than likely were shifting your weight back and forth on the couch as you completed the feat yourself. I know I did.

Nik Wallenda

We as human beings are unsure of events that are already written in history. Let alone relying on a company, department, or team of people who are responsible for delivering results that do not exist yet. CEO’s are concerned because they understand they need their people. But people are scary and a challenge. It’s not enough to state human capital is a challenge; the true question is what are we doing about it?

You can never be 100% sure you are acquiring, developing, and retaining the best. But, what you can do is commit time and resources to finding and using better information to increase your chances of doing so.

After all, your people matter.

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