DAV Professional Placment Group
DAV Professional Placment Group


Johannesburg +27 11 217 0000

Cape Town +27 21 468 7000

JOHANNESBURG +27 11 217 0000
CAPE TOWN +27 21 468 7000

October 5, 2015
9:53 am
by Anita Hoole

Architecture of a Talent Pipeline

Talent Chronicle October 2015 1


Building an effective talent pipeline requires a shift from reactive to proactive recruiting: from recruiting to fill an open position to thinking about who your company will want and should hire in the future. Building one without cracks or blockages requires long-term focus and structured planning. It will take time and effort but the benefits are worth the investment.

Professor Jeffrey Gandz, of Ivey Business Journal, has outlined the architecture of effective talent pipelines as consisting of 4 dimensions:


  1. A clear, articulated picture of your talent requirements over the next several years. This picture should be clear on the competencies and other characteristics that you want in your talent pool, so that people can see what it takes to ‘make it’ in the organisation.
  2. Developmental pathways that you can use to get raw potential developed into polished performers. You will need to define the experiences, exposures and challenges they need to meet so they can emerge as high performers in the future, whether as organisational leaders, specialist leaders or simply advanced specialists.
  3. Key HR systems and processes that can enable potential to be realised as performance. Typically, this means having sound, integrated human resource planning, recruitment and selection, training and development, performance management, career management, succession planning, and compensation/benefits processes to ensure the talent pipeline is filled. This will allow people to move through the pipeline and ensure the pipeline delivers the talent where it needs to be deployed, when it is needed.
  4. Programmes that enable both talent to develop and talent managers to do a great job of ensuring your organisation becomes a talent-rich enterprise. Some of these programmes may be in-house, some may be obtained externally; many will involve forms of action learning or learning associated with delivering on accountabilities. Some will focus on strategy and values while others will seek to develop competencies.

Incorporating these 4 dimensions will ensure that high-potential people are recruited into your organisation, assessed regularly and given the opportunity to develop and advance. Note that some will reach the level of their potential and plateau, others will decide to drop-out or will be moved out because of their performance or because they block the development of others, hence the importance of continued assessment to ensure a healthy pipeline.

Some will show potential for leadership and they will need to be given broadening experiences, programmes, challenges and opportunities (commonly known as a leadership track – your company should design how this track looks within your organisation). Others will show either limited aptitude or desire for leadership roles but have high-potential for development along specialist lines.

Professor Gandz notes that there will be many errors in making these assessments since assessment of potential is an inexact science at best, an art at worst. So be prepared to recognise and reverse an error. In addition, be aware that you need to allow time for development to take place. As so much development requires experience and reflection on that experience, people need to be challenged with real-work demands and assessed on their responses, you have to recognise potential talent early and manage careers actively.

By implementing these talent pipeline strategies, businesses can improve the scope of their prospective applicants and continue to make smart hiring decisions.

As always, if we can be of any assistance, please get in touch.


  1. Talent Development: The Architecture Of A Talent Pipeline That Works – Professor Jeffrey Gandz, Ivey Business Journal


June 1, 2015
8:22 am
by Anita Hoole

Overcoming the Challenges of Strategic Staffing


In essence, workforce planning is simple: ensuring there are the right number of people, with the right skills, in the right place, at the right time and at the right price to execute business strategy. However, because it’s all about people and because it takes a longer-term look, in practice it’s much harder than it sounds.

As Dilys Robinson of HR Magazine puts it: understanding workforce demand is notoriously difficult. Priorities shift, managers get distracted and the economy does unexpected things. Added to this there’s often a lack of strategic direction, poor quality data, the battle to get workforce planning on the senior management agenda and to get the organisation thinking long-term, along with the difficulty of extracting sensible demand forecasts from managers.

Common problems include:

  • assuming the future will be the same as the past
  • failure to think through the implications of change, both internal and external
  • not factoring in productivity improvement

The end result is that workforce forecasts look remarkably similar to the existing picture, even though managers, often admit that their existing workforce profile is far from ideal.

Success Factors, in the paper Workforce Planning Pitfalls, outlines 6 common pitfalls to look out for when beginning the process of workforce planning:

  1. Expecting HR to ‘own’ the process. HR’s role is critical, of course, articulating the value, asking challenging questions of managers about what drives workforce demand, helping the business translate its strategies into human capital needs, providing the necessary tools and processes, driving accountability as well as ensuring the required workforce is delivered. However, the foundation for workforce planning is the business strategy; therefore workforce planning should be owned by the business units ensuring they are responsible for the success or failure of their strategic plans. The human capital requirements of the strategy are no less a part of their responsibility than the  financial, technical, operational or other requirements.
  2. Failure to see the bigger picture. Workforce planning is a strategic exercise, not a short-term budgeting endeavor. The goal is to ensure talent managers prepare a future workforce to execute company objectives, not to slot employees onto project teams or into schedules. It’s also critical for the workforce plan to estimate the impact of business changes expected to occur beyond the forecast time frame.
  3. Trying to run before you can walk. Attempting workforce planning for the entire organisation will almost certainly become overwhelming and limit success. Start small. Focus on five to ten critical roles, allowing time to refine the process before expanding company-wide. Additionally, starting small will help build internal credibility and solidify support.
  4. Talking in the wrong language to the board. It’s crucial to translate the impact of workforce plans into financial value and business success. This enables business leaders to make workforce decisions based on the same criteria used in other areas of strategic planning. It also demonstrates the value of the workforce planning function, building credibility and support for the process going forward.
  5. Falling at the last hurdle: Implementation. Too often, the workforce plan becomes an academic exercise: a document that grows dusty on a shelf and never gets actioned. To avoid this, each business unit should have an owner accountable for managing the outline of specific tactics, time frames, budget, check-in dates and a set of metrics for monitoring progress.
  6. Planning without the right skills. Workforce planning is a business process that requires a unique blend of skills and capabilities, at the core of which must be business acumen. Finding people with these skills (and preferably previous workforce planning experience) can be challenging. Many companies begin with outside consultants who provide training, technology and support for the first few planning iterations. Thereafter, the expertise develops internally and companies usually find they can successfully manage the process independently.

Workforce planning will continue to grow as a critical element of business success. Understanding how the process works, how to demonstrate its impact and how to avoid common pitfalls will enable organisations to focus on what really matters: having the right number of people, with the right skills, in the right place, at the right time and at the right price to execute business strategy.

As always, if we can be of any assistance, please get in touch.

Previous articles in this series:

  1. Why Care about Strategic Staffing?
  2. Key Issues Driving the Need for Strategic Staffing
  3. A Process for Strategic Staffing
  4. Success Factors: Strategic Staffing

Resources: Overcoming the Challenges of Strategic Staffing

  1. Recession brings problems that make workforce planning a must: Dilys Robinson, HR Magazine
  2. Workforce Planning Pitfalls: Success Factors


May 18, 2015
9:34 am
by Joanne Meyer

Optimize Your Hire: Pre-Employment Assessment


Given the enormous cost of bad hiring decisions, it’s a small wonder corporates are spending time and care on making sure they source and hire the right people. From ensuring excellent talent selection systems to the compilation of complex and accurate job descriptions, it pays to finesse every step of the process. However, there’s always a chance that one of the candidates, who looks great on paper, may turn out to have misrepresented themselves in some way, or may not be a good personality fit for either the role or your corporate culture. Thus the importance of pre-selection screening, which moves beyond past credentials and experience, and brings a certain objectivity to the process.

In South Africa, these tests typically take place once the field has been narrowed down to only a few likely candidates. However, internationally they often take place earlier in the process: after only the initial telephonic interview or even as the first step in the process (generally via short, web-based psychometric tests. Such tests efficiently clear out the least-suitable applicants, leaving a smaller, better-qualified pool to undergo the more costly personalized aspects of the process).

Types of Employment Tests

  • Personality Tests. Assess the degree to which a person has certain traits or dispositions or predict the likelihood that a person will engage in certain conduct.
  • Cognitive Tests. Measure a candidate’s reasoning, memory, perceptual speed and accuracy, and skills in arithmetic and reading comprehension, as well as knowledge of a particular function or job.
  • Emotional Intelligence (EI) Testing. The ability of an individual to understand his or her own emotions and the emotions of others. Testing job applicants for their emotional intelligence is a growing employment trend.
  • Talent Assessment Tests. These are called pre-employment tests or career tests, and are used to help identify candidates that will be a good fit for the role and predict a new hire’s performance and retainability.
  • Sample Job Tasks. Sample job tasks, including performance tests, simulations, work samples, and realistic job previews, assess a candidate’s performance and aptitude on particular tasks.
  • Pre-Employment Physical Exams. These may be required to determine the suitability of an individual for a job or to measure the physical ability of an applicant to perform a particular task or the strength of specific muscle groups, as well as strength and stamina in general.
  • Drug Tests. These tests show the presence of drugs or alcohol in the applicants system and can include urine tests, hair analysis as well as saliva and sweat screening.
  • Language Proficiency Tests.


Ultimately, these tools are most effective in screening out non-appropriate candidates when used in conjunction with background screening to obtain hard facts about a candidate. Pre-employment background screening works in four critical ways:

  1. It can discourage applicants with something to hide. A person with a criminal record or false CV will simply apply to a company that does not pre-screen.
  2. It limits uncertainty in the hiring process. Although using instinct in the hiring process can be important, basing a decision on hard information is even better.
  3. Demonstrates an employer has exercised due diligence, providing legal protection in the event of a lawsuit.
  4. Encourages applicants to be especially forthcoming in their interviews.


Other important tools include CV verification, financial background checks (when relevant to the job), ID verification and drivers license verification.

Common Concerns Even with all the advantages of a screening program, these are the four most commons concerns that employers express:

  • Is it legal? Tests need to be valid, reliable, properly implemented and conducted with the candidate’s written permission. Companies can legally use these tests, as long as they don’t use to them to discriminate based on race, gender, national origin, religion, disability, or age. Employment tests must be validated for the jobs they are being used to hire for and for the purposes for which they are being used.
  • Is it cost-effective? It is cost-effective when compared to the damage one bad hire can cause.
  • Does it discourage good applicants? A good candidate understands that background screening is sound business practice, which helps a company’s bottom line and is not an invasion of privacy.
  • Does it delay hiring? No. Background screening is normally done in just 48 to 72 hours.

Administered correctly, pre-employment testing can help companies save time and money in the selection process, decrease turnover, increase productivity, and even improve morale.

If I can assist in any way, please get in touch.


  1. When Hiring, First Test, and Then Interview – Forbes Magazine
  2. Handling Pre-employment Screenings and Assessments – Quintessential Careers
  3. Pre-employment Testing: A Helpful Way for Companies to Screen Applicants – Forbes Magazine
  4. Employment Tests – About Careers
  5. Pre-employment Screening is Critical – HR Future


May 13, 2015
11:22 am
by Hillary Myburgh

Employee Value Proposition: the Backbone of Your Employer Brand


A strong employer brand that helps you create competitive advantage in the talent market begins with a well defined Employee Value Proposition (EVP). The two terms are often confused so let’s begin with a simple explanation for each:

  • Employer brand is the impression candidates have of a company and what it would be like to work for that company.
  • The employee value proposition defines the full array of elements a company delivers to employees in return for the contribution they make to the organisation. It’s a deliberate construct of the underlying “offer” on which the organisation’s employer brand is based.

According to research by the Corporate Leadership Council, a well thought through and executed EVP can:

  • Improve the commitment of new hires by up to 29%.
  • Reduce new hire compensation premiums by up to 50%.
  • Increase the likelihood of employees acting as advocates from an average of 24% to 47%.

However, the value of an EVP goes way beyond cost and time savings, it also:

  • Helps you attract and retain talent you might otherwise lose to organisations with more attractive EVPs;
  • Helps you appeal to people in different markets and tough-to-hire talent groups;
  • Helps you re-engage a disenchanted workforce;
  • Helps you understand what your HR priorities should be; and
  • Helps you gain a reputation as a great place to work.

The EVP encompasses both reward elements and intangible benefits, such as:

  • Various forms of pay and benefits;
  • Learning and development programmes;
  • Flexible work arrangements;
  • Wellness programmes;
  • The offer of challenging and meaningful work;
  • The opportunity for personal achievement;
  • An appealing organisational culture;
  • A sense of purpose; and
  • A pride-inducing set of workplace values.

Whether formally defined or not, all companies have an EVP, albeit often unconsciously. Organisations typically fall into one of four stages on a value proposition evolutionary scale:

Stage 1 – Tactical: Roughly one third of organisations have made little progress in defining the coherent set of factors that make up the value proposition to employees and candidates. They certainly provide rewards and have cultures, but employees are on their own to understand and interpret them.

Stage 2 – Integrated: These organisations have established a formal EVP and typically have stated objectives for each reward and talent management programmme with key connections amongst them (e.g., clear links between competencies, hiring processes, learning programmes, career paths and compensation bands).

Stage 3 – Communicating and Delivering: Third-stage organisations have gone further by cogently communicating the EVP to employees and delivering consistently on their EVP promises. In effect, they’ve established an internal brand.

Stage 4 – Segmenting and Differentiating: Stage 4 organisations have differentiated their EVPs from those of their talent market competitors and are more likely to measure the effectiveness of their rewards programmes. They view their employee brands as strong and, in some important way, uniquely attractive. This advantage comes from the way they respect the order of the phrase employee value proposition. They start by understanding the employee, then define and deliver rewards that have true value, and then convey a clear and compelling why-you-should-care proposition to the target audiences.

There are many ways an organisation can approach developing an EVP, but most fall into these four key steps:

Step 1. Review and dissect your data. This might include employee engagement, onboarding or exit surveys and recruitment and retention metrics. Analyse all data by key employee populations to identify trends and key themes. Remember to look beyond the top line numbers; the real insights come from the verbatim comments of employees that provide context to the numbers.

Step 2. Discover and dive deeper. This step should include interviews with key stakeholders including senior management, HR, marketing and most importantly existing and target employees. External customer value propositions are often based on a “tell” approach, where a brand will define what it wants to stand for and then use marketing channels to deliver this brand promise. However, an EVP is an employee-centric approach informed by existing employees.

Step 3. Develop your EVP. Based on the research and insights from steps one and two; craft your value proposition as a simple overarching statement. This will become the essence of your employee experience and employer brand commitment. Clarify key areas of focus to support your EVP, such as career development, work-life balance or CSR. Remember to keep these areas focused and don’t try to be all things to all people. Test your EVP against your HR strategy. If your EVP does not support your HR strategy you need to revise it.

Step 4. Deliver your message. Implement your EVP across the employee experience from your recruitment processes, through to onboarding, career development and even through the exit stage. Build in methods to measure the EVP, this will help you demonstrate the value of the EVP, return on investment and financial benefits to the organisation.

As always, if we can assist in any way, please get in touch.


  1. What’s the difference between the Employee Value Proposition and the Employment Brand? – Kennedy Communications Global
  2. Employee Value Proposition – Talent Smoothie
  3. Employer Branding – ICMA Group
  4. The 4 Stages of the Employee Value Proposition – TLNT


April 29, 2015
8:57 am
by Kelly Norton

Retention Begins with Hiring the Right People in the First Place



In Good to Great, author Jim Collins says the first job of management is to “get the right people on the bus, get the right people into the right seats on the bus, and then get the wrong people off the bus.”

Historically talent departments have tended to focus on number of requisitions processed and reducing time-to-fill, effectively stressing efficiency over effectiveness. Now, however, there is a shift of focus from quantity to quality, largely because of:


  • The scarcity of skilled talent,
  • The cost of labour; and
  • The importance of human capital.

Winning the war for talent means rethinking the recruitment process and this begins with getting the right people on board in the first place. We simply can no longer afford to make costly hiring mistakes.

Begin by thinking through the job carefully, along with the attributes, skills and competencies of the person you want to see in the role. Identify the specific measurable goals and outcomes you wish the employee to achieve. Think about your company culture and what kind of people will work well with your existing team and contribute to the atmosphere you want in your business. Although you want smart ambitious people, successful recruiting is not about high performance in isolation. Misfit employees tend to have a huge impact on company morale and visions. If you advertise, be very clear about what the role entails and what type of person you are looking for: skills and competencies as well as personal attributes and characteristics. Be sure to look internally as well and to broadcast throughout all available networks.

Once you have a thorough job description and a solid idea of what the new hire should look like, utilize the law of three:

  • Interview at least three candidates for a job, comparing and contrasting their qualities and characteristics. Check their suitability against your stated requirements. You would be amazed at how often people forget to do this.
  • Interview the candidate you like three different times: the true person is revealed once you get beyond the initial interview.
  • Interview the person you like in three different places. Brian Tracy of the American Management Association says that people have a “chameleon complex.” They appear a certain way in your office in the first interview and then seem to act and react differently when you move them to different environments.
  • Have any candidate that impresses you interviewed by at least three other people on your team.
  • Check at least three references from the candidate. Ask specific questions around their strengths and weaknesses and whether the referee can tell you anything to help you make a better hiring decision. Ask them whether they would hire the person back. If the answer is not an unequivocal “yes,” be cautious.
  • Check references three deep. Ask the given reference for the names of other people the candidate has worked with and talk to those people, too. You may be surprised at what you learn.

Throughout the interview process, don’t just ask questions about strengths and weaknesses and job history. Ask questions that help you identify what kind of employees they will really be, for example:

  • Who are you going to be 10 years from today?
  • Why do you work?
  • What makes you get up in the morning and do what you do?

Look for employees who show passion for your company, product and service and fit with your core company values. Make sure you like the person. This may sound like a no-brainer but when hiring a genius or someone with exceptional technical skills; it can be easy to overlook the reality that they might be problematic on an interpersonal level.

If you do end up with someone who is not a good fit, be brutal about ‘getting them off the bus’ quickly. It’s a painful process for everyone involved but better if dealt with quickly.

Last but not least, always be interviewing. Proactively keeping your hand in the talent pool gives you access to the best talent even if you don’t have an immediate need. You also don’t want to wait until you lose someone to replace them.

As always, if we can assist in any way, please get in touch.


  1. How to Get the Right People – Lois Geller, Forbes Magazine
  2. Get the Right People: 9 Critical Design Questions for Securing and Keeping the Best Hires – Steven Hunt & Susan Van Klink, Workforce.com
  3. How to Hire the Best Person Every Time – Christina Desmarais, Inc.com
  4. Startup Success: 5 Tips for Hiring the Right People – Brittney Helmrich, Business News Daily
  5. How to Hire the Right People – Brian Tracy, American Management Association


April 1, 2015
7:48 am
by Anita Hoole

A Process for Strategic Staffing

AH-Strategic-Staffing-April-2015In the first two articles in this series, I looked at the reasons you should care about strategic staffing and key issues driving the need for it. It’s so much more than the 3 R’s of recruitment, retention and retirement; it’s the strategic alignment of a company’s human capital with its business direction so it can achieve its mission, goals and objectives. Today, I’d like to outline a process for this strategic alignment.


Step One: Set the Strategic Direction

Review the performance requirements of your organization’s strategic plan and annual performance / business plan, along with work activities required to carry out the goals and objectives of the strategic plan (long term) and performance plan (short term). Identify all core skills and competencies needed for success. Start with specific key positions or occupations, particularly critical staffing issues or job categories; not entire business units or organisations. Interview senior executives and leaders to gain their buy-in and ensure they understand the importance and value of the planning exercise.


Step 2: Analyse the Workforce, Identify Skills Gaps, and Conduct Workforce Analysis

  • Understand external trends, both macro and micro. While this doesn’t need to be exhaustive its critical to have a handle on trends such as the aging workforce, and changes in how people access information. Along with trends relevant to the sphere in which you do business, such as projected shortages or surpluses in key occupations, and the strength of competition for employees with critical skill sets.
  • Understand internal trends including items such as retirement risk in key leadership or technical positions, the level of succession planning, the age distribution of the workforce, recruitment and retention statistics, and the proportion of positions filled by internal candidates.
  • Create a current workforce profile; number, turnover, location, demographics (age, gender, race), competencies, job levels, education, certifications, etc. Identify trends. Validate findings with executives and business leaders.
  • Create a projected workforce profile based on trends and assumptions. Ask:
    • What changes (technology innovations, organizational structure, outsourcing etc.) are expected?
    • How will that affect volume, type and locations of work? Skills mix?
    • What will the planned organisation look like (what competencies, how many people, what certifications)?
  • Determine what gaps / excesses exist between the current and projected workforce needs i.e. gaps and excesses in headcount, grades, knowledge, skills, abilities, experience.

Step 3: Develop Your Action Plan

Refine needs in terms of total numbers and competency requirements. Identify strategies to close gaps, plans to implement the strategies, and measures for assessing strategic progress. These strategies could include such things as recruiting, training / retraining, restructuring, contracting out, succession planning, technological enhancements, etc. Critical roles should not just be senior roles but those that bring significant value or are “mission critical” to the overall value chain of the business. Review with key stakeholders to gain buy-in, confirm their role and establish critical success factors and ways of working together (collaboration on interviewing, tools in place, hiring process, who has final say on compensation, etc.).


Step 4: Implement Action Plan

Ensure that human, technology and fiscal resources are in place, roles are understood, and the necessary communication, marketing, and coordination is occurring to execute the plan and achieve the strategic objectives. Know where your company will look for the talent it needs (internally versus externally); the build versus buy talent approach. Integrate with other company planning processes.


Step 5: Monitor, Evaluate, and Revise

Monitor progress against milestones, assessing for continuous improvement purposes, and adjusting the  plan to make course corrections to address new workforce issues.


In the next articles, I’ll be looking at some tools and tips for effective workforce planning. In the meantime, if we can be of any assistance, please get in touch.



  1. KPMG’s 1-0 Steps to Strategic Workforce Planning
  2. Strategic Staffing: A Comprehensive System for Effective Workforce Planning – Thomas P. Bechet
  3. Seven Steps of Effective Workforce Planning – Ann Cotten, University of Baltimore


March 2, 2015
11:26 am
by Christina Ratte

Back On Time

1. Back on timeConstantly stressed and running late? Here’s some good news… According to research being on time or running late might have nothing to do with you! The research, carried out by Jeff Conte and Jerald Greenberg of the San Diego State University and published in the Journal of Applied Social Psychology, identified two types of people:

Type A: These individuals are usually punctual because they have an internal clock that estimates a minute being 58 seconds.

Type B: These unfortunate individuals estimate a minute as being 77 seconds.

See the difference? Type B is also a little more laid back than Type A, adding to the sometimes infuriating relationship dynamic between the two.

Here are some time management tips to help Type B be more on time and perhaps even improve Type A’s time management skills!

  1. Make it non-negotiable to arrive early. Some set their clocks for earlier to help.
  2. Time yourself – how long does it take you to get dressed, feed the children etc. etc.
  3. Add 15 Minutes to your travelling time – or enough time for you to change a flat tyre on your way there!
  4. Forget you have a snooze button.
  5. Set alarms for when you need to leave the house or start dressing.
  6. Set timers for time consuming tasks like checking emails / facebook.
  7. Reward yourself with a coffee before the meeting if you made it on time.
  8. The way you start your day indicates how the rest of it will go. Maximise how you spend your mornings to set you up for a successful day.
  9. Remind yourself of the lost opportunities tardiness has cost you (if the carrot approach does not work try the stick)!
  10. Say NO. Sometimes this is all that’s needed.

Remember, even a few of the above tips can help improve your time management whether it’s at home or the office.


9:01 am
by Hillary Myburgh

Aligning Talent Attraction to Business Objectives

HM-aligning-talent-and-strategy-march-2015The most successful companies pinpoint critical success factors for their business and plan their workforce around these core objectives. Line managers identify how their department can contribute to achieving the larger corporate goals and then identify the roles and competencies required. This approach to talent management allows companies to identify which skills they need more of now, which they’re likely to need in the future, and how they address and rectify any gaps. It also allows organisations to plan adequately for talent attraction in a market where power is returning to the job seeker.

Once you have your business strategy locked down begin by looking at the key skills required to ensure business objectives are continuously met. Be sure to regularly review them – your company and industry will evolve and so will the skills required. You don’t want to be hiring ‘key’ people only to see their expertise become redundant within a matter of months. Next, do a skills gap analysis to show where you are exposed. Identifying those gaps early will help your talent acquisition team map the market to determine where that talent currently sits, how big a potential candidate pool there is and where the potential obstacles might arise, e.g. location. At the same time, develop an internal mobility and succession plan to ensure good people are being utilised optimally. Consider the current make up of your workforce: level, length of service, skill set, diversity metrics, potential, performance, ambition. This is not only a great motivator for existing key people but also acts as a retention tool. And then, plan for attrition. By forecasting future leavers it helps leaders plan accordingly for any skills gaps and back-fill appropriately, and in good time. 

These are some of the questions to ask during the alignment of talent development to strategic objectives:

  • What business goals and strategies are we pursuing?
  • What will these changes mean for our talent requirements?
  • What skills and competencies will be required to execute on our goals and strategies?
  • Are there any external changes likely to impact our organisation?
  • What are additional internal drivers (such as retirement, redundancies or skills shortages)?
  • Who do we currently have on board that fits this profile?
  • Can we grow some of our existing talent to support our strategy?
  • Do we need to recruit from outside?
  • What will the selected leaders collectively and individually need to support their growth and ongoing development?
  • Does every employee understand how their job function contributes to business success?
  • Do we continuously work to identify developmental opportunities for our staff?
  • Has our leadership team integrated workforce planning into their daily activities?
  • Do we link workforce planning strengths to the performance of individual managers?

Talent acquisition needs to be viewed as strategic rather than operational. It’s essential, therefore, that your talent acquisition team has strategic strength and really understands your business and your objectives. If they do, they can be creative in developing and implementing a variety of sourcing plans defined by the variable parameters that matter most, for example:

 Business critical needs

  • Candidate demand. To secure highly sought-after individuals takes a creative sourcing and attraction strategy and a winning ‘value proposition’.
  • Passive versus active candidates. Most companies still mistakenly see both groups as one and the same. Understanding the different hiring methods for each group is crucial.
  • Utilisation of relevant media channels. The use of media depends on who you are trying to attract.
  • Creating a winning value proposition. Interesting but challenging projects, merit-based career progression and flexible working are just some of the key criteria expected by candidates today.

As always, if we can assist in any way, please get in touch.


  1.  How to Design and Implement Talent Acquisition Strategies to Meet Corporate Goals – Tom Bradley and Christian Steele
  2. Talent Planning and Attraction – Adecco
  3. Do Your People Strategies Mirror Your Business Strategies? – Rick Brandt, Ph.D., President, TalentQuest Consulting Services
  4. How to Align Talent Management with Business Strategies – Dr. Anton Franckeiss (article as seen on hrzone.com)


8:55 am
by Joanne Meyer

Is Your Talent Selection System Working for You?

JM-selection-process-march-2015The cost of a new hire is significant. The cost of a bad hire is infinitely more: hiring costs + total compensation + cost of maintaining the employee + disruption costs + severance costs + mistakes, failures and missed opportunities. Talent decisions have real bottom line implications and so it’s critically important to examine every step in your hiring process to make sure that, as often as humanly possible, you end up with the right candidate in the role.


How do you know whether or not your talent selection system is working for you? The following points are good indications:

  1. Employees don’t stay around. If you’re not retaining as many employees as your competitors, or your staff turnover rate is high, your talent selection could probably improve.
  2. A shortage of internal candidates worth promoting. If your company usually hires externally instead of promoting from within, you might not be choosing people who have the potential to grow with your organisation.
  3. New hires require excessive training. Training new employees – and all employees, for that matter – is good practice. However, if new recruits aren’t able to become productive without excessive training, ask yourself if you’re hiring people with the right skills.
  4. Interviewers often disagree on candidates. In cases when interviewers disagree on candidates, you will most probably find that good job descriptions are not in place. This leaves it open to interpretation as to what the organisation really needs.
  5. Inexperienced or untrained interviewers. Interviewing effectively is a discipline. Coaching and training all your interviewers will improve the quality of selections and provide a better experience for the candidates.
  6. Neglecting to do reference checks. Reference checks help reduce the risk of bad hires, are inexpensive and easy to implement.
  7. Assessments are not part of the selection process. Integrating assessments into your selection process will add independent and unbiased information to the selection decision.
  8. New hires aren’t meeting or exceeding job expectations. If new employees aren’t achieving their goals in the expected time frame then many things can be going wrong and a total talent selection process review might be in order.

I came across this list compiled by The Partnering Group, which outlines the 10 questions you should be able to answer yes to for each of the key steps in the talent selection process (line management can be considered subject matter experts):

Selection Criteria Do you conduct a job or competency analysis to identify key criteria?
Are subject matter experts involved in the analysis?
Is the job / competency analysis conducted and reviewed regularly?
Selection Techniques Are structured selection techniques used to evaluate job candidates? If so, are the techniques designed based on a job / competency analysis?
Are subject matter experts involved in the design of the selection techniques?
Are the selection techniques validated following legal guidelines? If so, is the validation study documented in a technical report?
Is the scoring process determined based on the validation process?
Are hiring managers trained on the selection process?
Onboarding & Development Do selection results inform the onboarding process?
Do selection results inform the talent development process?

In developing job descriptions remember to take into account your organisational talent profile – certain qualities and attributes will fit better within your culture and with your corporate values and will better drive your business strategy forward. Have a look at your current top performers – their qualities are likely to be good predictors of success. It’s important, also, to evaluate the whole person, not just their technical skills. Behaviours, motives, values and personality traits are just as important.

In today’s competitive climate it’s essential to ensure alignment between employee skills and the company’s culture, values and business direction. If I can assist in any way, please get in touch.


  1. 6 Ways to Evaluate your Selection System – Scott Erker, Ph.D, DDI
  2. Evaluating Your Talent Selection Programme – Robert C. Satterwhite, Ph.D, The Partnering Group
  3. Taking Your Selection Systems from Good to Great Part 1 – Assess Systems
  4. Taking Your Selection Systems from Good to Great Part 2 – Assess Systems


8:27 am
by Judy Hofer

Core Leadership Theories

JUH-leadership-theories-march-2015Core Leadership Theories

Mankind has long been fascinated with what, exactly, makes one person emerge as a leader over others. Personality? Character? The situation? It’s only been since the mid 19th century or so, however, that we have formalised this fascination into theoretical exploration. Early leadership theories focused on what qualities distinguished leaders from followers, while subsequent theories looked at variables such as situational factors and skill levels. Eight major theories, commonly categorised by which aspect is believed to define the leader the most, have emerged:

  • Great Man Theory

Originally proposed by Thomas Carlyle in the 1840’s, the Great Man theory assumes that leadership is inherent; that great men are born not made – they are destined from birth to emerge as leaders. The term “Great Man” was used because, at the time, leadership was thought of primarily as a male quality, and leaders were often ascribed the qualities of mythical heroes.

Great Man theory did much to establish and reinforce popular support for trait-based leadership thinking then, and for many years afterwards.

  • Trait Theory

Similar to Great Man theory, Trait theory assumes people are born with inherent traits, some of which are particularly suited to leadership and those with the right (or a sufficient) combination of the right traits will make good leaders. The focus is on discovering what these traits are, often by studying successful leaders. Indeed distinct traits DO arise in the profiles of effective leaders and in the way that followers desire to be led; however, this does not alone adequately explain what effective leadership is or how it can be developed.

General acceptance of trait-based leadership theory remained virtually unchallenged for around a hundred years.

  •  Behavioural Theory

Behavioural theory offers a new perspective – that leadership is based on definable, learnable behavior: leaders are made, rather than born. This theory looks at what leaders do rather than who they are. This implies that anyone can learn to be a leader simply by learning how to behave like one: a remarkable shift. Behavioural theory divides leaders into two categories: those concerned with task and those concerned with people.

  •  Participative Theory

This theory suggests the ideal leadership style is one that takes others into account. The assumptions, as summarised by changing minds, are:

  • Involvement in decision-making improves understanding of the issues by those who must carry out the decisions.
  • People are more committed to actions where they have been involved in the relevant decision-making.
  • People are less competitive and more collaborative when they are working on joint goals.
  • When people make decisions together, the social commitment to one another is greater and thus increases their commitment to the decision.
  • Several people deciding together make better decisions than one person alone.
  • Situational Theory

Situational theory proposes that leaders choose the best course of action based upon situational variables. Different styles of leadership may be more appropriate for certain types of decision-making. For example, in a situation where the leader is the most knowledgeable and experienced member of a group, an authoritarian style might be most appropriate. In other instances where group members are skilled experts, a democratic style would be more effective.

  •  Contingency Theory

Similar to Situational theory, Contingency theory proposes that success depends upon a number of variables, including the leadership style, qualities of the followers and aspects of the situation: there is no one best way of leading – a leadership style effective in some situations may not be successful in others. The main difference is that Situational theory focuses more on the behaviours the leader should adopt, given situational factors (often about follower behavior), whereas Contingency theory takes a broader view that includes contingent factors about leader capability and other variables within the situation.

  •  Transactional Theory

This theory bases leadership on a system of reward and punishment. Transactional leadership is often used in business: when employees are successful, they are rewarded; when they fail, they are reprimanded or punished. Additional assumptions are:

  • Social systems work best with a clear chain of command.
  • When people have agreed to do a job, a part of the deal is that they cede all authority to their manager.
  • The prime purpose of a subordinate is to do what their manager tells them to do.
  • Transformational Theory

The essence of transformational theory is that leaders transform their followers through their inspirational nature and charismatic personalities. They inspire followers to change expectations, perceptions, and motivations to work towards common goals. Overall, they balance their attention between action that creates progress and the mental state of their followers. Perhaps more than other approaches, they are people-oriented and believe that success comes first and last through deep and sustained commitment.

The leadership field has made great strides forward since the 1840’s in uncovering whether leaders are born or made, how followers affect how successful leaders can be, how some charismatic leaders build up societies and others destroy them, as well as what impact leading through technology has on individual and collective performance. Where leadership theory and research will take us over the next decade is indeed intriguing.

If you have any questions, please get in touch.


  1. Leadership: Current Theories, Research and Future Directions – Bruce J. Avolio, Fred O. Walumbwa and Todd J. Weber
  2. Core Leadership Theories – MindTools
  3. Leadership Theories – Changing Minds
  4. The 8 Major Leadership Theories – about.com
  5. Leadership Theories – Leadership-central
  6. Leadership Theories – Business Balls