The Talent Pipeline
In Delivering Results – A New Mandate for Human Resource Professionals (A Harvard Business Review book), Dave Ulrich points out that the challenges around the war for talent, culture, organisation and individual learning, value creation for investors and employees and profitability are not new. What is new today; is shining the spotlight on human resources to answer them. The local talent pipeline is drying up as the war for talent cuts across borders, industries and professions. When those supposedly in charge of this country and business, realise that the talent pipeline is drying up, how do they respond? Here at the southern tip of Africa, with the free flowing borders of the Atlantic Ocean on the west and the Indian Ocean on the south and east; the response is sunshine and rain. The first half of 2008 was rain, more rain and rain again. A selection of the responses so far:
1 I/Me/Them is not in charge
Government and business needs a serious leadership transfusion. The breakdown in public departments (housing, transport, home affairs and the rest) is due to –F leadership. The resultant poor service delivery remains a catalyst for social unrest. Those corporates that are industry leaders, with corporate governance departments and budgets, are crawling out of the drain pipes in price fixing scandals. These leaders should be prosecuted and put behind bars without a reduced sentence. And payback those multi-million rand executive bonuses related to corrupt practices.
2. All pipelines are drying up Everywhere?
A familiar conversation: The guru’s tell us that everyone from the UK to India, from Brazil to SA is stuck with the same pipeline drying up. The consultants tell HR the same. HR repeats the message to Exco and line management. It is reassuring to know that our competitors whether it is a country or organisation are going to be squirming like us to attract and retain talent. Everyone is battling to find and keep talent or so the faulty logic goes. These comparisons are short sighted. All pipelines are definitely not drying up. Everyone is not battling. There are winners and losers, not equal losers in the war for talent. The US, China and Dubai are moving up the talent ladders. Where will SA finish in the talent tournament?
3 Hire Spin Doctors and a Branding Agency
I’ve been meeting a number of HR professionals that want to transform their employer brand without anything changing underneath the hood. I walk away from the potential work. They need spin doctors and a branding agency to write press releases and marketing pitches for suckers. So talent is enters the pipeline at one end and leaves a few months later. An employment brand without authenticity and substance is not worth having in the first place.
4 Attack others in the pipeline
For years, government and business turned a blind eye to the “guests” streaming across borders into SA. Business wasted no time in hiring cheap and subservient labour ahead of locals. The tension between poor communities and immigrants over livelihoods, business and employment eventually spilled blood, reminiscent of township violence in the 1980’s. Attacking others in the pipeline is a national disgrace that will haunt this country for years to come.
5 Hang up the “Closed” Sign
Putting profit before the staff comes with corporate history, But pushing loss before staff is ugly. When Nationwide Airlines (Proprietary) Limited ceased operations; they sent staff on the flight to ruin. Two months prior to closure, the company deducted medical aid contributions and never paid them to Discovery Holding’s Discovery Health. Employees have been left to pick up the pieces and struggle with the financial knocks of the liquidation.
Until next month, keep sending those company rumours and facts. Take care of that pipeline, it holds the future of this country and your business.
(HR Future, July 2008)