Saturday September 1, 2012
Talent recruitment revisited
By EUGENE MAHALINGAM
Invest in employees to ensure continuous inflow of talents, companies told
IN today's war for talent, many employers are practically fighting a losing battle as they strive to retain their best people. What they need to realise, however, is that the recruitment arena is an ever-changing ball game.
“The rules of engagement in the war for recruiting, grooming and retaining talents have changed. The practices and methods of the past have been re-engineered,” Star Publications (M) Bhd group managing director and chief executive officer Ho Kay Tat says in his opening remarks at a seminar in conjunction with the launch of The Star's recruitment pullout, myStarjob, on Wednesday.
The seminar, titled “Closing the Talent Gap: The New Rules of Engagement,” featured prominent industry leaders in their respective fields, namely Talent Corp Malaysia Bhd chief executive officer Johan Merican, CIMB Group Holdings Bhd group corporate resources head Hamidah Naziadin and International Institute for Management Development professor George Kohlrieser.
On the sidelines, Johan tells StarBizweek that organisations today should not be afraid of investing in their talents for fear that they would then leave for higher-paying jobs.
“Many companies say they're afraid of investing in their talents because after training them, they (the employees) become more employable and leave. But that's just looking at the talent as part of a static pool.
He says companies should continuously invest in their employees to ensure a “continuous inflow of talents.”
“Many big firms that don't necessarily offer the highest salaries are still capable of hiring some of the best talents. The reason is because these companies have developed a good reputation for investing in their people and it opens up a lot of opportunities.
“If you continue to invest in people, they can do their jobs better. Yes, maybe some will leave, but because you've developed a reputation for training your employees, then you're able to continue attracting a good talent pool and keep the pipeline moving.”
Johan says a mindset-change is needed for companies generally across Malaysia.
“You need to invest while knowing that these people will leave, but in the long run, also knowing that the continuous investment will continue to attract a fresh intake of talents. If you invest and value them, it will assist in retention.”
Meanwhile, in his presentation at the seminar, Johan says the ideal career path of an employee should be similar to the progressive journey of a Jedi in the Star Wars movies.
“In Star Wars, the Padawan (graduate trainee) progresses into a Knight (manager), then a Jedi Master (chief executive officer) and eventually gets elected to the Jedi Council (board of directors).”
Johan points out that in the movies, about 70% of the progression process of the Padawan involved experiential development, which he believes is what companies should practice in the real world.
“There is a lack of experiential development by companies. It's apparent in a lot of today's organisations that if you have someone who's a really good teacher, what you do? You promote them to headmaster, which is a very administrative role. You need to prepare the person for the role they will eventually assume. Planning for future development is vital,” he says.
He also says that many employees today are not purely financially motivated.
“You actually meet a lot of people today that are motivated by value. They want to work for organisations that are good corporate citizens,” says Johan.
For the CIMB group, which has been on a continuous, aggressive expansion drive to become a major financial institution within Asean, the challenge was to integrate a common culture and desire among its employees, says Hamidah.
The financial conglomerate, which has operations in Malaysia, Indonesia, Thailand, Singapore, Cambodia and soon the Philippines has the widest geographical reach and the largest number of branches in South-East Asia.
However, Hamidah points out that CIMB had many challenges when it wanted to penetrate other countries within the region.
“In Indonesia, they have strict regulatory barriers and are not open to changes. They also had different management styles. In Thailand, we had to contend with the language barrier and in Singapore, meanwhile, the financial services sector there was already saturated with big local and foreign players.
“While in Cambodia we had to build our operations from the ground up,” she says.
Hamidah says CIMB needed to change the mindset of its talents in the other countries which was a truly herculean task.
“We needed to bring our people together by harmonising and streamlining our internal processes. We also integrated our human resources (HR) systems. Today, it's all about cultures and managing diversity.”
Hamidah also says HR departments should strive to do more for their respective organisations.
“HR departments should not just play a supportive role in their organisations. They need to work hand-in-hand (with the company) to develop talents,” she says, adding that CIMB's HR department also served as the internal marketing arm for the bank.
Kohlrieser, who is an international leadership professor, consultant, author and veteran hostage negotiator, in his presentation says that talent development is critical for organisations today.
“The reason many talents quit their jobs is because they don't feel that they are being developed,” he says, adding that it was usually the high-performance workers (as opposed to mid or low-level ones) that usually leave the company.
Kohlrieser says the best form of talent development that company leaders can provide is to teach their people “how to win.”
“About 80% of people play not to lose meaning that they're too defensive in whatever they do. Only 20% of them play to win.”
To be able to “play to win,” employees need to be able to take more risks, he says.
“You can't develop talents without taking risks. To be an inspiring leader, you need to be positive.”
Kohlrieser says that to help develop a talent's potential, company leaders needto help find a “secure base” for their employees.
“A secure base is either a person, place or goal of protection that provides a sense of protection and comfort, which offers a source of energy and inspiration to explore, take risks and seek change.”
To provide that secure base, leaders need to find a balance between how much to care for their employees and how far to push them, he says.
“Characteristics of secure base leadership are those that accept and value the individual rather than judge and criticise; sees the potential in the individual versus their current state; encourages risks, provide opportunities and challenges to stretch versus over-controlling; inspires through intrinsic versus extrinsic motivation; is accessible anywhere, anytime versus unavailable and detached; remains calm, composed and guarded versus amygdala hijacking; tends to use listening, dialogue and inquiry vs advocacy; directs mind's eye and focus towards the positive versus negative; and creates bull's eye transactions through the targeted use of words and gestures versus rambling or remaining aloof.”
Kohlrieser says the secure base leadership characteristics was based on interviews with top leaders.
Finally, as he ends his presentation, he cites American essayist Ralph Waldo Emerson: “As a person who has achieved high talent development, do not go where the path may lead. Go instead where there's no path and lead a trail.”