In today’s economically challenging society we are forced to focus on the bottom line. This is the responsibility of every employer to their workforce and families. However, we must always remember that the true capital of any organization is those it is comprised of, the employees. Without the people, and the proper utilization of their skills, the success of any organization will suffer. Herein lies the importance of human and social capital, as well as the ethical challenge and balance thereof.
Every employee enters a company with a particular skill set. This may be a knowledge base acquired through years of experience, or an intellect that enables them to learn and adapt quickly. They also bring with them expectations based upon their creativity, honesty and persistence, or lack thereof. This human capital is the first layer of foundation whereas their success can be built upon.
Additionally, people want to be associated with the winning team. In that same fashion, they bring with them a sense of shared values, goals, and collaboration. Understandably, some of these may need to be developed due to an internalization caused by external factors in life or from a previous employer. However, this social capital is the second layer of foundation, and of equal importance to the first. Both layers are integral parts upon which their career and success will depend.
Ethically, it is the responsibility of the manager to recognize what human and social capital they either have or can build upon. I believe that if an employee fails, then the manager has failed. It is the manager’s responsibility to mentor and coach that behavior, or capital, in a way that will help the employee be successful and, ultimately in turn, the company.
Unfortunately, I have heard many managers state that it is not their job to force someone to be what they are not. They fail to realize that management is primarily a people position. Realizing that every ethical decision that an employee makes affects the overall performance of the organization, it still remains the manager’s responsibility to take every opportunity to help coach the behavior.
We have all heard that behavior and actions are mimicked, and that people do as they see, not as they are told. This highlights the importance of the manager to “walk the talk”. …
A leader shows by example, and has an appreciation for what each team member brings to the table, as well as the proliferation of what social capital is required and expected. The true appreciation of human and social capital is not simply stated in a company policy or manual, but is the ethical responsibility of the leadership to display.
Kreitner, R., & Kinicki, A. (2012). ORGANIZATIONAL BEHAVIOR 10th EDITION. McGraw-Hill/Irwin.