Is It Wrong to Call People Resources?
Many people are offended by calling people resources. I can understand that. I sometimes even cringe when I read an article about resource management that never explicitly indicates that when they say resources they mean people. So, is it wrong to refer to people as resources?
It's important to understand that there are acceptable uses of the word "resource" and there are steps you can take to ensure that everyone in an organization feels valued and appreciated. Referring to people as resources is commonly used in recruiting and Human Resources (even the department name includes the term) as well as in academic studies when learning about people in organizations or corporations.
It is not appropriate to refer to a person as a resource to their face. The term should be used for simplifying complex issues and planning, not for more personal settings. If you are managing a team of people, get to know each team member personally. Go to lunch with them and spend time outside of the normal business setting to understand the person better, what makes them tick, and what they value. Let them know how important they are to the team. When your team knows how much you value them, it will make it easier for them to understand the very specific way the word resource is used for reducing complexity.
However, in large organizations, it is impossible to get to know everyone. But, if you are a portfolio manager or just someone who doesn’t work with teams on a daily basis, you can still make an effort to get to know some people. This will make your employees feel that they are truly valued and that you see each of them as a person, even if you can't meet them all personally. On top of that, getting to know as many people as you can will make your job easier. When you are managing your resources (employees), you probably have a list of their skills in the resource management tool you are using. If you get to know those people personally, you may learn additional skills that they have that weren’t necessarily listed on their resume, but that make them a perfect fit for a specific project.