12 Tips for Building a Culture of Interdependence at Work

You need to believe that your employees are your most significant assets

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The outsourced economy is here to stay. As a leader, you may not relish the idea of outsourcing. However, the reality is that you may soon need to consider outsourcing. When that happens, you will want a workforce that is nimble, adaptable and prepared to participate in your organization at a new level of competitiveness.

Conversely, your smartest employees right now are developing the skills necessary to become free agents in an outsources economy. These motivated, talented people are the last ones you can afford to lose.

Organizations that partner with their employees and recognize employees as assets will retain those employees when they have the opportunity to become free agents.

Turning the Power Hierarchy on Its Head

In the past, you did not ask people what they’d like to do. You asked them if they could do what you needed to have done. Your employees expected you to tell them what to do. This arrangement favored the ownership or leadership of the organization over the individual.

Those days are gone. In the outsourced economy, your businesses and your organizations are now environments for you, as employers, to steward—and steward does not mean control.

It means creating the kind of workplace where knowledge workers want to work with you, not for you. This economy requires employees who are capable, committed partners, who share your business objectives and have a stake in helping the company remaining competitive.

As employers, you need to develop a radically new relationship with the people you invite to join you in your enterprise.

Employees as Assets

If you relate to those you pay as assets rather than as expenses, you might find yourself asking different questions of these people, and taking different actions toward them. This is the radical shift in your thoughts about employees that is recommended.

The concept of employees as assets is going to require that you create and maintain a culture of interdependence, where employees feel valued and return value in equal measure.

This type of environment has little or no concern for control for human assets but places attention on systems that inform the organization of what the talent needs are, now and in the immediate future.

Plenty of attention is given to attracting and selecting the right people, developing them once they are on the team, and understanding the full scope of their capabilities so as to support their adaptability at times when the jobs they do can be moved and completed by less expensive talent.

Knowledge workers are more important to your business today than your business strategy. They are your main asset. If yours can be the kind of workplace these people will be looking for, you have a distinct competitive advantage.

Building a Culture of Interdependence With Employees as Assets

Here are the guiding principles for building a culture of interdependence in the new, outsourced economy.

  1. Know what employee assets you have on hand and have a plan to optimize them and their talents, skills, and experience.
  2. Know what human assets you are likely to need and have a plan for their acquisition.
  3. Create a senior-level position in your company—Vice President of Human Assets or Human Assets Officer—who is accountable for increasing the value of your human assets.
  4. Insist that your leaders take the long view and are accountable for the development of your human assets.
  5. Focus on building relationships. Do not take on this challenge alone or only with members of management. Get all employees involved.
  1. Employ people who are intrinsically motivated by what you are trying to accomplish.
  2. Employ people who currently possess skills and competencies that you really must have in your employ, and who are willing to continue to develop skills as needed in the interest of the greater good.
  3. Employ people who understand that yours is a collaborative environment. They must be willing to operate in that fashion and develop their collaborative skills.
  4. Make all of your reward systems some combination of a return to the individual for value produced and recognition of the performance of the whole company or organization.
  1. Create and maintain systems that allow people to grow professionally, and require that they take advantage of them.
  2. Let it be known, from day one, that it is an expectation of membership in the company that everyone is responsible for their own development.
  3. Employ people who understand that their job role involves being responsible and accountable for everything that the organization requires from them. Make certain that every employee clearly understands these responsibilities.

If you are operating a business today and have not made the shift to a much more collaborative approach, to have people work with you, then you are already in deep trouble.

Begin acting like people are the most valuable assets of your enterprise if for no other reason than the future of your enterprise in the outsourced economy depends on it. The best employees only stay where they are viewed and valued as the most important asset of the organization.