Keeping the talented ones where you want them

29 April 2012 - 02:20 By Margaret Harris

Buyani Zwane, chief executive: group human resources at Sanlam Group, speaks to Margaret Harris

MOBILE: Buyani Zwane
MOBILE: Buyani Zwane
MOBILE: Buyani Zwane
MOBILE: Buyani Zwane

How can companies ensure that they treat their employees as whole people, taking into account their personal lives and non-work commitments, but not at the expense of productivity?

Companies are made up of teams of individuals with unique gifts and talents. These individuals are highly capable and can achieve great goals when placed in the right environment. Employers need to take into account that capable employees are highly mobile, so they have options. Acknowledging that, leads to engaging individuals and teams.

When people feel valued, they feel inspired to commit to more than just completing contracted work assignments.

People are often unhappy at work because they are ill-equipped or not well-suited to their job and would be much happier and more productive elsewhere in the organisation. How can organisations make sure people's skills and preferences are taken into account when they are placed in new positions?

Most employment errors occur when candidates are placed without the necessary skills. This often results in anxiety and frustration. We become anxious because we all want to succeed, and being unskilled or ill-equipped for an assignment guarantees failure. Most of our future assignments are based on our previous successes.

Managers and leaders have an additional responsibility to equip individuals in their teams to become effective contributors to the business. This requires constant review of the talent and capabilities of those they lead. Regular communication between managers and employees around performance matters makes it easier for employees to confidently express their discomfort with an assignment or state their preparedness - or lack thereof - for the next proposed position.

Essentially, anxiety and frustration can be prevented and addressed through effective performance appraisals at regular intervals, and not only once a year.

Most employees are being told money is scarce. How can companies that are battling through tough economic times retain high-performing employees?

It is true that all organisations need to tighten their belts and to become even more efficient in how they conduct business. Wastage cannot be tolerated or condoned.

Recent studies by the Corporate Leadership Council on talent retention pointed to the importance of high performers, with a specific focus on those who pursue meaning and purpose - they want to know why their work matters. Leaders need to explore methods of talent retention over and above cash rewards. Keeping high performers engaged in worthy projects that unleash the very best in them will help organisations to retain talent.