Emerging HR Practices


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Talent management strategies tend to be complimented by BBBE and skills development initiatives. Because the South African legislation requires companies to leave a certain percentage of key managerial posts for Affirmative action candidates, these post are filled just for the sake of the law. However, because some of these posts are key or core functions to the organisation, they require a certain degree of maturity through experience for a incumbent to be successful in his or her job. You find that some companies may recruit just for the sake of fulfilling the requirements of the post; and in some cases a Black candidate may fear asking for guidance, because of the fear of being marked as a failure, or a person who knows nothing about his or her job. In addition, some companies interpret affirmative action in terms of selection based on legislative quotas and preference race gender and ethnicity. By this “Cheap, shallow and insecure” means are used to address the demographic issues facing South Africa (Oehley and Theron, 2010: 3).

A challenge in South African corporate is job hopping, common among affirmative action candidates. This has a negative effective on the return on investment in terms of recruitment and training expenses (Cruz and Ngobeni, 2006). “The recent research by the Unilever Institute that found that 65% of black employees had changed their jobs at least once within the last three years, is well short of the five year time period most HR managers would aim for in retention (Cruz and Ngobeni, 2006: 25).

The challenge in succession planning for leadership positions is the full articulation of the future leadership competencies as they continuously change (McCartney and Garrow, 2006). McCartney and Garrow (2006) propose that, rather than grooming employees in narrow leadership definitions, an employee could be trained in broad job families, so that he or she is exposed to different aspects of the organisation. In addition, an employee could embark on different projects that could help in career maturity. McCartney and Garrow (2006) finally assert that “broad job families precipitate talent development, where employees could be exposed to real complexity in solving organisational problems.” Kesler (2002) argues against the tendency for top executives to develop their successors. He gives an exception for the CEO position, and for the other top positions, he argues that those incumbents tend to develop their predecessor in their own likeness, rather than focussing on grooming employees for future and current leadership roles. According to Kumba’s HR manager, the risk of success planning could be reduced through rotating its employees among different business units, while engaging them in developmental studies, thereby exposing them to different commodities, disciplines and locations. By this Kumba has managed to achieve 80% of promotions from within, and just 20% of appointments from outside, in the years 2000-2006 (Marupen, 2006).

In the South African context, organisations find a difficulty in creating a unified organisational culture that appeals to every employee. Mistrust would be a stumbling block to an organisational culture that seeks to share knowledge (Kerr-Phillips, and Thomas, 2009:10). This is because of the past that keeps on haunting some South African organisations. There are many ways this mistrust manifests. Firstly, there is mistrust between management and the union which in some way has contributed to the high rates of strike action. Secondly, mistrust may exist among employees. This mistrust is crippling to teams (that a platform for a learning organisation). Therefore the challenge for organisations is to develop sound and improved labour relations that may contribute positively to talent management efforts.
Talent management at a global level is also challenging. There is a growing need for developing teamwork for development initiatives in organisations. In some cultures, teamwork may be a new thing. In some cultures where teamwork is encouraged, innovativeness and the notion of taking charge may mean divergence from the group norms (Guthridge, Komm and lawson, 2008).

The South-African public service sector has a long way to go in the process of fully managing talent. This is because of the failures in their recruitment and selection practices. In 2005, it was reported that there was a 35% rate in vacancies in the public sector (Kahn and Louw, 2010)

Obviously from the look of things the Batho Pele-the people first principle principles of the Public sector that aims to attracting employees with a positive attitudes in service excellence haven’t been achieved. This is with reference to troubled departments such as the home affairs, and some municipalities that are faced with service delivery protest.

Academics are now faced with the task of equipping graduates with essential skills necessary for organisational success (Pillay, Subban and Qwabe, 2008). The best attitudes that academics would equip students, are; teamwork, time management, integrity, reliability, and leadership among other behaviours. I would point out the above mentioned attitudes because, for those companies that hire at entry level through graduate placement programmes, usually candidates would be assessed on the basis of such skills. Some companies have facilitated these graduate placement programmes, by establishing collaboration links with some universities.

In the light of the global environment, certain barriers may stand in the way of talent management strategies as outlined by Pfeffer & Sutton (2006 in Randall, in Randall, Schuller, Jackson, Tarique, 2010, Jackson, Tarique, 2010) are;

• The fact that senior managers do not spend enough time on talent management, perhaps thinking that there are other more pressing things (e.g., finance, market share, product attributes) to be concerned with;
• Organizational structures, whether based regions, products, or functions, that inhibit collaboration and the sharing of resources across boundaries;
• Middle and front line managers who are not sufficiently involved in or responsible for employees’ careers, perhaps because they see these activities as less important than managing the business, and/ or because they require such a long-term perspective;
• Managers are uncomfortable and/or unwilling to acknowledge performance differences among employees—a step that is required in order to take actions to improve performance;
• Managers at all levels who are not sufficiently involved in the formulation of the firm’s talent management strategy, and therefore, have a limited sense of ownership and understanding of actions designed to help manage the firm’s global talent;
• HR departments that lack the competencies needed to address the global talent challenges effectively, and/or lack the respect of other executives whose cooperation is needed to implement appropriate HR policies and practices; and
• There exists a ‘‘knowledge-doing’’ gap that prevents from managers implementing actions, even though they might know that they are the right things to do (Pfeffer & Sutton, 2006 in Randall, Schuller, Jackson, Tarique, 2010, Jackson, Tarique, 2010)

There is an underlying difficulty in satisfying Technical professional. In most cases these profession’s output is intangible in the form of innovative ideas, they desire autonomy in their workings and they see their work as more rewarding than the tangible rewards. Organisations should devise means of rewarding these employees more intrinsically. In addition performance evaluation objectives should be tied in the skills and requirements of the profession (Potgieter, and Pretorius, 2009 in in Randall, Schuller, Jackson, Tarique, 2010). This is however a challenging task in talent management.

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