Magazine article New African

Finding & Keeping the Best

Magazine article New African

Finding & Keeping the Best

Article excerpt

Recruiting, retaining and getting the best from employees is essential for the success of any business, and something of an art in itself - and as Africa's economies prosper and companies flourish, the role of the Human Resources (HR) director becomes ever more crucial. Three of the continent's leading HR recruitment specialists talked to Stephen Williams about their work.

In both mature and emerging markets alike, the ability to implement business strategy depends on having the right personnel. They need to have the right experience and skills, and be positioned in the right places across the organisation at the right time. Making sure that enough high-calibre staff are recruited for this purpose is the role of the HR director. Speaking to various HR professionals, it was interesting to note both the similarities and differences of the approaches they take to achieve their remits.

When asked about the current recruitment landscape. Ola Ehinmoro, the vice-president of Group Talent Management at the French multinational construction company Lafarge, observes that it all depends on what category of employee you are seeking.

"If you are looking for entry-level managerial candidates, you have a lot more candidates looking for positions. So that requires a lot of screening to be able to identity- those that can hit the ground running. You have more work to do at that level and have to be more selective - especially in countries like Nigeria where you can easily get 15.000 applications for a single post.

"When you move from that level to the middle management level, the supervisory level, depending on your dragnet, I would say the market has more supply-demand equilibrium. Because you would have the opportunity of not only staffing locally but also globally. We can come to Europe. US, or some other region within Africa to do some mid-level recruitment, as this population is quite mobile.

"A lot of things are happening on the continent, and there is not so much of loyalty to a company. It is about how much you can get from company A or company B, and candidates can be quite mobile. So, depending on your programme and the salaries you are prepared to offer, you can find all the numbers you need at the middle level. But at the leadership level, for transformational purposes, demand is higher than supply.

Apart from various compliance issues, I would say a major challenge is the lack of critical skills in some countries.

"Speaking as an African, I would be tempted to say that there is a huge glass ceiling within many different companies that is the result of them not having the desired level of confidence in local talent to lead. And local talent is getting stuck at the middle level of leadership. So, probably at this level, demand is ahead

Benthe Legg, Africa regional human resources director for Maersk Line and Safmarine, identifies what she terms as "cross posting" as a useful development tool. This is where Africans of one country or region are posted to another African country or region, "we have used cross postings extensively for developing people for leadership positions.

"So there has been a lot of internal development rather than just recruiting externally, the advantage of a cross posting is that you can give somebody the experience of a smaller country or cluster, rather than a large country which can provide leadership complexities. …

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