Honing your investment strategy in others

In my previous post I talked at length about different ways you could invest in others.  Today’s post will be a more specific discussion about the fundamental ingredient you have to offer when investing in others.  Before I get to that strategy I'll draw an analogy to the investment world with capital and then move to the human capital realm.

As a novice investor in the capital markets I see three main areas to invest my capital or resources into:

  • cash
  • debt
  • equities

While these three categories are the overarching descriptions of many variations of each, they represent the three main areas you can put your resources into to grow and develop a portfolio.  Cash is great for a short term investment and it provide a low risk-low return approach.  Debt is a step up from cash and provide a little higher return, but with a higher risk based on a number of internal and external factors.  Equities are the next step up the ladder and typically provide the highest return, but with the highest risk.  As risk increases it is usually tied with a longer-term investment strategy.

In investing in others the main ingredient we have to use is time.  Time is somewhat of a commodity, but in another sense time is not a commodity at all.  I’ll take a few moments to explain about the different ways you can use your time investment to grow human capital in yourself and in others.

One of the best short term time investments in others is in listening to them and being present.  Some will say that this investment may produce little if no return, but I would retort that listening to others may be one of the best human capital strategies you can provide.  What better way to understand the feelings and motivations of another person than to listen to their wants, goals and challenges?

Coaching is a medium-term investment of time and it provides a little higher return, but with a little higher risk due to the additional ingredients you may use in addition to just listening and working with another person.  Coaching is a great investment of time, but coaching requires a good amount of planning and preparation before, during and after the coaching engagement.  Never forget to plan.

Development is another medium to high risk investment of time and resources into another person.  Development focuses on future needs and these needs may or may not come to fruition.  There is always a risk that the time used for development may not lead to the attempted goal.  Even if this is the case, there is little loss in preparing for a future state because we never know where our careers might take us.  I like to say that there is no wasted development and I will expound more on that in a future post.

The three main areas of human capital investment I have touched upon today are as follows:

  • listening
  • coaching
  • development

In a future post I will cover another area of investment, training.

Until then, keep an eye on your human capital portfolio and don’t overreact to the market as things change on the inside and outside.