Your Greatest Asset: What Does That Even Mean?

I went through a good portion of my life believing that boundaries only existed for people who weren’t related by blood. While there were strict rules for how I should be treated with pretty much every person, the family was the exception. They could do, say, be and act however they wanted. I had to deal with it because it was in the blood.

For most of the last 3 decades, I chose to deal with name-calling, homophobia, political battles and much worse. I didn’t know any better. In fact, I made excuses to wish it away. They were “just” whatever I needed them to be to make it ok in my head. Just old, just don’t know any better, just… hurtful.

That’s the worst part. When you have a family that’s not so kind, you get hurt over and over again. You want to believe they can be what you need. You manipulate your boundaries until they disappear. You watch everyone else and try to squint hard enough to make things look better at your house.

News flash. I don’t want to tell you how much you have to spend at therapy to get the real rule on family: they don’t get special boundaries. Oh, and that squinting thing doesn’t work.

No one, blood or not, gets to treat you poorly over and over again. There are relationships in your life that you should let go of, blood or not. You should be treated as something unique and valuable. You are an asset to people’s lives.

Then there’s the “greatest asset” at work…

You knew that was coming.

I mean, think about it. How many times have we just, “put up with it.” By day, we’re told that “people are our greatest asset.” At night, we nod, we smile, we cry at home, but we don’t walk away for a million reasons that never make as much sense in the aftermath as they do at the moment.

I know that feeling. The bills have to be paid. You just need to save up so much before you can really start looking. You don’t want to leave unless the next job is so much better.

At that moment, you don’t feel like an asset. You feel like shit.

Yet the blogs and ebooks love to perpetuate that one-liner. They push it on us like the government sold the drug on war. But the ebooks forgot the part where they were supposed to explain what that really means in the first place.

In fairness, I don’t actually care what they think. I care what real people think, so I asked. “If people really were your greatest asset, you would….”

The answers say a lot more about work than a vendor ebook could. Here are just a few of my favorites that I hope will make you think as hard as I do every time I see that cliche in a headline.

[You can read all the answers here.]

 : Respect the human side of what they bring to work.
 : Realize that people development precedes business development.
 : Hold an ego/bully check over the “leaders” who manage them.
 : Have pay transparency. Keep them engaged, challenged, and maintain a non-discriminatory and non-hostile work environment. Ensure equity and fairness across the board while maintaining efficiency.
And, of course, the snarkiest one wins the day:
 : …stop referring to them as assets


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Katrina Kibben View All →

Katrina Kibben is the Founder and Principal Consultant of Three Ears Media. For most of Katrina’s career, she has been a marketer living in a recruiter’s world – listening to both sides of the talent equation to understand the real issues and find solutions for engaging and hiring better people. Today, she uses her technical marketing know-how and way with words to help both established and emerging brands develop and deliver content that fuels smart recruitment marketing that makes the right people apply.

Katrina has written for,, RecruitingDaily and many other digital publications. She is a recognized leader in recruiting and employer branding who speaks regularly at conferences around the world.

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