Workforce competencies, agility and resourcefulness are among the crucial enablers of both business success and sustainable economic progress. Well-considered, holistic leadership and talent management strategies are thus instrumental in realising value for the business as well as its extensive value chains. As home to some of the fastest growing economies and the youngest population in the world, Africa is at a wonderfully exciting phase in its evolution. The continued growth of sectors such as manufacturing and the rise of Fintech in Nigeria, Kenya, Egypt and South Africa are firmly placing Africa’s feet on the accelerator pedal.
Ours is no doubt a continent rich with potential. But, in order to leverage the innumerable opportunities that distinguish Africa, it is vitally important to nurture empowering leadership, and attract the right talent. It is equally essential to retain talent through well-defined employee value propositions that focus on mentorship, an empowering ecosystem of continued learning and development, access, recognition, incentives, etc. among others. Beyond this, the right talent management approaches can help develop an employer brand that is, in itself, attractive at so many levels.
But – as human beings with dynamic interests, needs and perspectives – a one size fits most approach is a sure-fire way of failing before you even get started. There has been a fair amount of criticism around the loyalty of Millennials and, of late, Gen-Z but what’s clear is that, unlike their predecessors, they are presented with many more choices and are unapologetic about pursuing these – rightfully so.
The reality is that employment is no longer primarily about earning a fixed income. Research by Chandler Macleod indicates that 91% of employees require more than just financial motivation to stay engaged and enthusiastic about their future at a company. Younger generations are increasingly attracted to workplaces that offer meaningful learning, development and diverse growth opportunities. Businesses have a responsibility to provide exactly this.
In my view, loyalty needs to be redefined. Long-term commitment should not be a prevailing measure but rather the employee’s dedication to giving their best; supporting and contributing to business imperatives; and empowering their colleagues, customers and the business’ partners – in the course of their journey.
Engaged leadership and focused mentorship
Many argue that there is a dearth of competent leadership on the continent, but truth be told, this is a sentiment shared much more widely. Nonetheless, business leaders have the responsibility to reassess how we attract, engage, recognise and incentivise the people who are the foundation of our business. By the same token, it is vital that we address sub-par performance in a manner that is decisive and fair.
Questions leaders should ask, include:
- Do we have the right blend of skills and competencies, especially for critical skills and highly specialised roles?
- Is collaboration being effectively driven?
- Are onboarding practices robust enough?
- Is there alignment with business goals?
- Are we managing expectations – at both ends – and encouraging necessary transparency?
- Are the systems for managing performance issues effective?
- Are we upskilling and reskilling to keep abreast of change in a dynamic environment?
Considering the high rates of youth unemployment and skills shortages across the continent, businesses also have an enabling role to play in helping to bridge the widening gaps – outside of the workplace. One of the ways in which this can be done is through leadership and mentorship programmes aimed at communities. We have an abundance of aspiring, young leaders, who – with the right guidance and support – have the potential to inject progressive thinking and drive implementation of future-fit concepts. Similarly, there is an immeasurable amount we can learn from the youth, who often see the world through very different lenses.
It is this mindset and approach that will propel our continent, enabling it to become the global powerhouse that it undoubtedly has the potential to be.
Liesel Dentlinger is the Group Human Resources Director at Omnia Holdings.