With the exception of UPS (and Enterprise, where Frankel found the training almost cultlike), learning in these environments was haphazard and ad hoc, with churn-and-burn the expectation, if not the rule. Frontline talent was treated not as a resource to be sustained and developed, but as fodder to be processed through a revolving door. One cannot help but think of Lawler’s cautions about the hidden price that low-cost operators pay in high turnover and shoddy service.
Punching In and the other best books on human capital this year broaden our understanding of how human capital is and could be developed to meet the needs of a highly competitive global environment. None of them solves the biggest human capital challenges we face, but taken together or savored separately they provoke a wide range of ideas about how talent can be unleashed and more powerfully leveraged.
Sally Helgesen is an author and leader-ship development consultant. Her books include The Female Advantage: Women’s Ways of Leadership (Doubleday, 1990), The Web of Inclusion: A New Architecture for Building Great Organizations (Currency/Doubleday, 1995), and Thriving in 24/7: Six Strategies for Taming the New World of Work (Free Press, 2001). Her Web site is www.sallyhelgesen.com.