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Investments in People

Investments trade current resources for future gains. The most common forms of investment include:

  • Financial holdings designed to provide a return on investment (ROI) in the form of appreciation, dividends, or interest.
  • Physical holdings intended to appreciate or generate income, such as real estate
  • Physical items used to create other products or provide services, such as software systems or CNC machines

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Investments in people may also be financial. Companies often pay hiring bonuses to attract talent, or pay for schooling and training.

Investing non-monetary resources such as time and trust in people is, however, critical to Lean success. This means leaders providing one-on-one coaching to their teams. It means giving people time away from their jobs to work on projects throughout the company. It means trusting people to take the initiative to work on something a bit outside of their comfort zones.

This sort of investment pays off immensely. The savings from the problems avoided or the additional earnings from increasing capacity make the resources committed to people well worth it.

  • Investing in people makes them more valuable to the organization. It also makes them more valuable to other organizations. Have a retention plan in place to keep the talent you develop from departing for greener pastures. Part of the entire investment will include higher salaries or promotions.
  • Remember that not all investments pay off. All stocks do not go up. All people do not have the same capabilities. A leader’s job is to help a person reach his or her potential, not a particular threshold. Obviously, a person must be qualified to do the job that they hold, but not every person is destined to run the company. Leaders should invest their time and teaching opportunities where the resource will do the most good. That means not all people will get the same amount of attention.

Solicit your boss if he is not giving you the time or opportunities to improve. Just like a mutual fund has to compete with thousands of other funds to get an investor’s dollars, you will have to compete with your coworkers and other demands on your manager to get the time you need to improve personally. You will also have to invest in yourself if you want to succeed. That means reading on your own time, attending classes out of pocket at times, and working some long hours at times. You may even ruffle the feathers of your coworkers at times if you start raising the bar. Getting your company to invest in you takes proof that you are willing to invest in yourself.

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