The capacity and abilities of human beings/resources have known no boundaries. Money, buildings, cars, lands, oil, gold, timber, etc., may have their value and importance but they do not come anywhere near the value on human capital. Human beings can make or break societies and organizations and hence, prudently managing them is not a matter of choice but obligatory for every serious organization or nation that wants to gain sustainable competitive advantage.
Critical to a company’s growth and prosperity is gaining and retaining competitive advantage. Although companies may pursue many paths to this end, one that is not frequently recognized is capitalizing on superior human resource management. Currently, many companies recognize the growing importance of their human resources but few are conceptualizing them in strategic terms hence, missing the opportunity to seize competitive advantage through human resource practice initiatives. However, there are a few companies that do not forgo the opportunity-talk about the multi-national companies.
Using the people within your organization to gain advantage is one of the most overlooked methods by businesses in Ghana today. In most organizations, they try to mold people to t the organization rather than create an organizational model that fits the strengths and weaknesses of its people.
A simple definition of gaining competitive advantage is doing something different than your competitors in such a way that it is difficult (hopefully impossible) to imitate. In business, your competitors can always try to hire better people and develop better schemes but as a leader, you should constantly evaluate your team to ensure that you have the right people, with the right training, in the right places, to ensure success.
The ability to create a unique team is one of the most cost-effective ways to create real sustainable advantage in the marketplace (and in my opinion, the only way).
You can try to use technology, marketing or other approaches but unless you develop those approaches internally, they will not provide the desired results because your competitors can use the same approaches to match your every move.
Various governments have embarked on numerous initiatives in their bid to prove how critical they view the nation’s human capital. Some of these are:
- Legislation allowing private participation in providing education, hence the emergence of private educational institutions such as the universities, colleges, etc.
- Providing free/subsidized education for primary and JHS education.
- Expanding educational institutions infrastructure –buildings,
- Provision of interventions like school feeding program, capitation grant, laptops/computers to teachers and students, vocational training for the youth, etc.
- Instituting Best Teachers Award.
- Setting up and supporting watchdog bodies like the National Labour Commission, the Ghana Employers’ Association, Fair Wages and Salaries Commission, Trade Union Congress, etc.
At the corporate level, the messages that are sent out on how they place value on human resource can be described as unfortunate. One would have thought that we have come to the point where appreciating the value of employees will no longer be a contentious subject. While some companies provide continuous training for their staff, which enhances creativity, innovation and adoption of new best practices, others use the provision of training as a tool of reward & punishment. If you fall out of favor, you will never be sent out on any training programme. Further to this is where reduction in expenditure in some organizations always starts from training budget!
It is people – leaders, managers and staff- who are responsible for initiating and implementing the system changes that will result in utilizing and getting the best out of the human asset to ensure sustainable competitive advantage.
A comprehensive Human Resource Development system is essential for ensuring an efficient and motivated workforce capable of contributing to the ultimate success of every organization or nation.
China is now leading the pack of countries leveraging on managing human capital to achieve different levels of sustainable competitive advantage. Yes, Ghana is on course but we still have some way to go hence, we need to double our efforts in attaining the competitive advantage needed to boost our economy. I end this write-up by stressing again that “The ability to create a unique team is one of the most cost-effective ways to create real sustainable advantage in the marketplace and in my opinion; the only way.
By Ebenezer Ofori Agbettor