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THE UNDERVALUED RESOURCE

"It is astounding how many smart, well-educated, and well-paid people are underutilized by their companies," writes Susan Annunzio, chairman and CEO of the Hudson Highland Center for High Performance, and an adjunct professor of management at the University of Chicago School of Business in Contagious Success.

"It is astounding how many smart, well-educated, and well-paid people are underutilized by their companies," writes Susan Annunzio, chairman and CEO of the Hudson Highland Center for High Performance, and an adjunct professor of management at the University of Chicago School of Business in Contagious Success. It is more astounding how many not-so-smart, apparently ill-educated and yet well-paid people there are who are managing the underutilized people in this day and age when it is absolutely essential to optimize all of an organization's resources. People give lip service to "People are our most valuable resource," yet in worldwide research that Annunzio and her colleagues conducted, that value is being squandered, to say the very least. What's important to realize—and, perhaps, rather shocking—is that it doesn't take some superior intellect of human resources to actually achieve value from the smart people that organizations hire. As she explains, "The best way to value people is to create an environment in which smart people are treated as if they are smart. Employees are told what the goals are; they are not told how to achieve them." It kind of makes you want to interject with a Homer Simpson-like "d'oh," but apparently there are far too many managers who don't get it—and this seems to be a global state of affairs.

Annunzio states it succinctly and correctly: "No matter where in the world your company is, the drivers of high performance are the same. Knowing your business and meeting your customers' needs are important, but they are not enough. What drives high performance is valuing people, optimizing critical thinking, and seizing opportunities. Without an environment in which these occur, your company will not be able to develop the new products, services, or markets you need to sustain profitable growth." Customers are certainly important. But the people who create and deliver the products and services are essential.—GSV

Contagious Success: Spreading High Performance Throughout Your Organization By Susan Lucia Annunzio Portfolio; ($24.95)