Employers responsible for developing talent in Africa

by Lebo Tseladimitlwa

While many global companies are expanding, or seeking to expand in Africa, the availability and retention of talent is proving to be one of the main challenges facing growth and expansion on the continent. According to Lebo Tseladimitlwa, VP of Human Resources at DHL Express Sub Saharan Africa, talent is perceived to be one of the major challenges facing business leaders in the region, with 83%of African CEOs admitting that they are especially worried about availability of key skills on the continent.

Tseladimitlwa says that in addition to this statistic, the PWC Africa Business Agenda1 report also reveals that most CEOs expect to increase and maintain staff headcount in the next year. “In Africa’s competitive labour environment, these statistics highlight that attracting and developing the right skills is crucial.”

Tseladimitlwa adds that it is therefore important to adopt leadership styles which will support and nurture the skills and talent needed for growth. “Essentially, talent will no longer be the main concern when it comes to employees’ skill-sets, but rather the leader’s ability and responsibility to teach and develop these skills.”

She adds that a recent EY survey2 reported that while managers in Africa are perceived to be performing well at day-to-day operational activities, they are considered to be less capable when it comes to people management, especially in relation to retention, productivity and engagement.

“Globally, it is reported that only one in five3 companies are providing additional training and development to existing staff, proving that employers are not doing enough to address talent shortages. In Africa, these efforts are likely to be significantly less when compared to the rest of the world, and therefore intensifies the need for programs to be implemented.”

“‘Motivated People’  forms part of our global FOCUS strategy pillars, ensuring that we provide great service quality which results in loyal customers and ultimately a profitable network. We consider our Employee Engagement programs to be critical to our business success. Understanding the need to drive a common culture across 220 countries and territories, we launched a Certified International Specialists (CIS) learning and development program for all 3,500 staff in DHL Express Sub Saharan Africa. Everyone from the Global CEO to a Courier in any country has gone through this training program reinforcing our core competencies as an organization. CIS training has been central to our staff retention and development globally.  Certified International Manager (CIM) is an extension of CIS, and is focused on ensuring that we have leaders with the correct balance between IQ and EQ to lead tomorrow’s workforce. Each module targets various behaviours and leadership practices; for example, CIM1 is centered around respect-focused behaviours and getting results without comprising respect.”

“In addition to our employee recognition programs, we also have an internal development program called Made In Africa, that produces a sustainable and dynamic list of future leaders that can succeed Africa Management Board positions, Country management positions and senior functional roles. The program reduces the historical dependency on expatriate imports, and improves skills of the talent pool.”

Gavyn Symons, Country Manager for DHL Express Malawi adds, “We are fortunate to be the most international company in the world, which enables us to give our employees the very best learning and development opportunities. Our diverse network, which spans across 220 countries and territories, provides the perfect platform for employees to learn and share experiences in different markets. The value of cross-country, on-the-job learning is immense.”

Tseladimitlwa says that employers in Africa need to foster a continuous learning and development culture and encourage employees to be masters of their own destiny. “As competition on the continent for human talent increases, companies need to work even harder on their talent strategies.”

1 PWC Africa Business Agenda

2 Realising potential: EY 2014 Sub-Sahara Africa talent trends and practices survey

3 ManpowerGroup: Talent shortage survey

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