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CAPE TOWN +27 21 468 7000

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 11, 2015
10:16 am
by Judy Hofer

Challenges Facing Today’s Leaders


The life of modern-day leaders is more demanding than ever. Internally, they need to motivate diverse groups of people, work across organisational boundaries, improve efficiency and achieve growth. Externally, they face a complex and globalised environment in which they have to keep ahead of competitors and exceed the expectations of other stakeholders.

According to a survey conducted at the Center for Creative Leadership, involving 763 leaders across seven counties, there are six primary leadership challenges facing all leaders no matter where they are in the world:

  • Developing managerial effectiveness: The challenge of developing relevant skills; such as time management, prioritization, strategic thinking, decision-making, and getting up to speed with the job; to be more effective at work.
  • Inspiring others: The challenge of inspiring or motivating others to ensure they are satisfied with their jobs and motivated to work smarter.
  • Developing employees: The challenge of developing others, especially through mentoring and coaching.
  • Leading a team: The challenge of team-building, team development, and team management.
  • Guiding change: The challenge of managing, mobilizing, understanding, and leading change.
  • Managing internal stakeholders and politics: The challenge of managing relationships, politics, and image, such as gaining managerial support and getting buy-in from other departments, groups, or individuals.

These are difficult challenges, and many leaders feel ill-prepared to tackle them. The most frequently mentioned challenge is developing managerial effectiveness. Here are some recommendations:

  • Goal-setting is important. Be proactive in setting goals, as well as timelines and deadlines which are required to meet those goals.
  • Delegate more. Delegating can, in fact, make you more productive. The act of delegation can also empower the people to whom you have given work.
  • Work on tasks that maximise your unique value-add. There will always be important tasks that only you can do. These are the tasks on which you should focus as you will maximise your specific value to the organisation. Everything else, try to delegate.
  • Gain some role clarity. Understand what your work does and does not entail. With that, you may have to practice and be comfortable saying “no.”

The division between task- and relationship-oriented leadership has long been a challenge. Three of the challenges namely inspiring others, developing employees and leading a team; are all related to the relationship-oriented part of leadership. Here are some considerations:

  • Take an active role in mentoring, coaching, and developing others. Provide challenging opportunities, broadcast successes to upper management and empower others to increase their area of competence. Support your employees by providing guidance and feedback.
  • Meet the needs of your employees. It’s not just about making sure your employees have the right software or enough office supplies. You also have to meet their psychological and social needs.
  • Manage team effectiveness. Make sure your team has a clear purpose, strong support, and effectively shares information among the group and with important stakeholders outside the group.

Guiding change is a key challenge for leaders. Organisations exist in a VUCA world (volatile, uncertain, complex, and ambiguous) and leaders need to be adept at managing, mobilising, leading, and dealing with change. Some suggestions include:

  • Try it, you might like it. It’s natural that people don’t like change. Leaders should try to transform their own thinking, and be more open to fresh ideas. People may witness that shift in attitude and embrace change.
  • Embrace emotional reactions to change. It’s not enough to use rational arguments. Leaders also need to be sensitive to employees’ emotions and show empathy.
  • Since you cannot be clairvoyant, be clear. Nobody can tell others what the future holds, but you can definitely tell others about the present and what you’re doing to reach the desired future stage.

Another frequent challenge is managing internal stakeholders and politics. To more effectively accomplish this, leaders need to develop and enhance their political savvy, defined as “the ability to effectively understand others at work and to use such knowledge to influence others to act in ways that enhance one’s personal and/or organisational objectives.” There are several ways to do this:

  • Mingle strategically and build strong networks and relationships.
  • Manage up. Proactively keep your boss informed: the struggles you and your team are having, and what is going well.
  • Read the situation. Observe and gather information from others and the environment.
  • Leave people with a good impression. Being politically savvy is not being manipulative. Having integrity and being authentic are of the utmost importance. Get feedback on how your message and behaviour really come across to others. Avoid gossiping. Keep confidences. Deliver on the promises you make.

If you have any questions, please get in touch.


April 16, 2015
10:27 am
by Judy Hofer

Leadership Styles


Leadership styles are not fixed in place, cast in stone for all time and permanently attached to an individual’s personality. They are interchangeable. The best leaders know that different styles are applicable to different situations and to different people, and will choose the style best suited to get the desired results. It’s probably true to say, however, that each leader has an instinctive, dominant style. Following on from last month’s article on leadership theories, let’s look at some of the main leadership styles:


Useful for when there is no need for team input or input will not change the end decision. This style has the leader making decisions without consulting anyone and has been shown to be the most demotivating.


Builds consensus through participation and is most effective when the leader needs the team to buy into or have ownership of a decision, plan, or goal. It is not the best choice when a quick decision is called for.


Leaders offer support and advice but largely give the team freedom in how they manage their work. Very high job satisfaction for people with high autonomy but damaging for people who don’t manage their time well or need additional knowledge, skills or motivation to get their job done well.


Moves people towards a shared vision and openly shares information, telling them where to go but not how to get there. This style is best when a new direction is needed but can fail when trying to motivate more experienced experts or peers.


This style connects wants to organisational goals, helping people find their strengths and weaknesses and tying these to career aspirations and actions. This style is good when delegating challenging assignments, demonstrating faith that demands justification leading to high levels of loyalty. Done badly, this style looks like micro-managing.


A very collaborative style focused on emotional needs over work needs, creating people connections and harmony. Often used alongside visionary leadership, it’s useful for healing rifts and getting through stressful situations, but used badly allows for the avoidance of emotionally distressing situations such as negative feedback.


This “do as I do” style expects and personifies excellence and self-direction. Great if staff are already highly skilled and self-motivated and quick results are needed. Over the long term though, this style can lead to exhaustion and decline.


Soothes fears, gives clear direction and expects full compliance (agreement is not needed). This approach is best in times of crisis when safety is at stake, when you need rapid in questioned compliance or with problem employees who do not respond to other methods. It should be avoided in almost every other case, because it can alienate people and stifle flexibility and inventiveness.

Bureaucratic Leadership

Rigorous rule-followers, this leader ensures that people follow procedures precisely.

Appropriate for managing people who perform routine tasks or for work involving serious safety risks or large sums of money. This style is much less effective when flexibility, creativity, or innovation are called for.


This style is exemplified by integrity, self-awareness, empathy, humility and high emotional intelligence. Transformational leaders motivate people and communicate well. They set clear goals, have excellent conflict resolution skills and hold themselves accountable for their actions.


Charismatic leadership resembles transformational leadership: both types of leaders inspire and motivate team members. The difference lies in their intent. Transformational leaders want to transform their teams and organisations, while charismatic leaders often focus on themselves and their own ambitions.


If you’d like to identify your instinctive leadership style, here’s a handy online quiz.


If you have any questions, please get in touch.



  1. 6 Leadership Styles and When you Should Use Them: Robyn Benincasa, Fast Company
  2. 8 Common Leadership Styles: Rhea Blanken, FASAE
  3. Leadership Styles: Changing Minds
  4. 6 Emotional Leadership Styles: Changing Minds
  5. Leadership Styles: Kendra Cherry, Psychology Expert



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
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


7:35 am
by Crystal Gertze

Engagement and Retention Need to Become More than Buzzwords

CLG-engagement-retention-march-2015What we want as employers is simple: to find the right people, keep them happy and have them stay. However this seems to be increasingly challenging to achieve: young employees want more career growth; people change jobs more often; the work environment in companies has not kept up with the outside world; management doesn’t always understand how to motivate younger people; an aging workforce; the skills gap and the resulting fierce competition for talent.

According to Gallup research, only one in eight workers are actively engaged at work and likely to be making a positive contribution. The signs of a disengaged workforce are myriad: missed deadlines, poor customer service, careless (and costly) mistakes, and employees who count the minutes until they can leave for the day. Statistically, according to Gallup, in companies with a disengaged workforce, employees take 37 percent more sick days and the inventory shrinkage rate is 28 percent greater.

Ultimately, this is what you risk if your employees’ engagement level is low:

  • Customer satisfaction levels are 10 percent lower
  • Employees are 21 percent less productive
  • A business with 22 percent lower profits

By way of contrast, companies with highly engaged employees outperform those without by 202%, product defects are up to 41 percent less common, and safety incidents happen 48 percent less often.

And naturally, companies with high engagement levels have 25-65 percent better retention rates than companies with low engagement. Unfortunately most companies feel they have a long way to go. According to Deloitte’s Human Capital Trends Report 2014 (in which executives rate “retention and engagement” their No. 2 priority):

  • 79% of business and HR leaders believe they have a significant retention and engagement problem (26% see it as urgent)
  • 77% do not feel they have the right HR skills to address the issue (25% urgent)
  • 75% are struggling to attract and recruit the top people they need (24% urgent)
  • Only 17% feel they have a compelling and engaging employment brand.

An alarming number of executives rate themselves or their companies as either “weak” or just “adequate” in several key retention capabilities:

  • Integrating social, community, and corporate programs
  • Aligning employee and corporate goals
  • Helping employees balance their personal and professional lives.

Employees are an “appreciating asset,” as Josh Bersin puts it: the longer they stay with a company the more productive they are and the more they add value. Our focus as employers, however, cannot solely be on retention or “holding people here.” Better to keep people engaged through measures that build commitment, align employee goals and experience with corporate purpose, and provide engaging work and a culture of development and growth. In other words, we want people to stay because they want to, not because they have no other alternative.

Ultimately the most successful companies are those that know engagement and retention are more than just buzzwords. They have a common sense of mission, a deep respect for their employees and put time, energy, and money into building a highly engaging environment.


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


  1. Global Human Capital Trends 2014 – Deloitte Consulting
  2. Why Retention Now a Big Idea: Why the Tide has Turned – Josh Bersin, writing for LinkedIn
  3. Why Companies Fail to Engage Today’s Workforce: The Overwhelmed Employee – Josh Bersin, writing for Forbes Magazine
  4. Worldwide, 13% of Employees are Engaged at Work – Steve Crabtree, Gallup



February 25, 2015
12:34 pm
by Anita Hoole

Key Issues Driving the Need for Strategic Staffing

AH-Strategic-Staffing-March-2015Recruitment is more often than not a tactical game. We project one or two moves ahead – for the coming financial year, say – or we scramble reactively when someone resigns. We might use the word strategic when it comes to HR conversations but we very rarely understand what that means.

I think we grasp, in theory, the value of long-term talent planning but very rarely – in a world that changes at a dizzying pace – do companies adopt the infrastructure necessary to fully execute on it. Quite often this is because successful strategic staffing planning requires sweeping changes to company-wide processes and procedures, and demands the full involvement and commitment of all levels of management. Not an easy challenge.

So we fully understand its importance let’s look at strategic staffing in context. To do this, I find the following from Mary B. Young, DBA, of The Conference Board, extremely helpful:

“Strategic workforce planning (SWP) is the process that translates business strategy into its workforce implications. But business strategy comes first, answering the “why” question:

  • Why do we need more of this and less of that? What are the business drivers that define our workforce needs? In addition to strategy, these drivers can include changes in the environment (new technologies, shifting customer demands and competitive threats) and uncertainties for which the company needs to be prepared.

Once the “why” is understood, SWP helps business and HR leaders answer four more questions:

  • What do we need as a consequence of the business drivers—not just how many people but also which organisational capabilities and skills?
  • Where do we need them? The answers to this question can be based on the locations where we plan to shrink or grow, local labour supply, regulations and so on.
  • When? How soon will we need X, Y and Z? Which needs will take a long lead time to fulfil and which ones can we meet on a just-in-time basis?
  • At what cost? How much will it cost to secure these resources? Can we afford it?”

Why is it so crucial that we become truly strategic vs. tactical in our staffing approach? There are a number of issues driving this need (beyond the obvious: the more strategic a player we become, the more chance we win the game):

  • There are fewer available candidates, especially when it comes to scarce skills.
  • Higher costs for scarce skills.
  • Skills and education gap.
  • Changing career patterns and expectations.
  • Staff turnover, especially amongst the “change careers ten times in a lifetime” younger generation, is very high. Even at senior levels tenure is diminishing.
  • Loyalty is diminishing.
  • Corporate needs and strategies are subject to rapid change, bringing with it a need for changing competencies.

Strategic staffing/workforce planning puts you “one step ahead” of these issues, helping you create a workforce that is, and will continue to be, flexible and responsive in these fast-changing times. Its many advantages, however, are not limited to recruitment and selection; it also provides a framework for other HR policies and programmes such as training, compensation, and diversity management.

In upcoming articles, I will be looking at how to get started along with models for effective workforce planning. In the meantime, if we can be of any assistance, please get in touch.


Workforce Planning: The Strategy behind Strategic Staffing – hr.com

Reframing Traditional Workforce Planning – ere.net

Tomorrow’s Workforce – The Hay Group

Strategic Workforce Planning vs. Talent Management – The Conference Board


February 10, 2015
12:18 pm
by Anita Hoole

Your Job Search: Where to look and what information to keep track of

Job-search-anita-feb-2015So you’re ready to start your search for a new job? It can seem like a daunting task when you are just starting out. First you need to know where to look and, as the search can pretty quickly become quite complex, what information to keep track of.

 Before you begin

Make sure you know what kind of job you are looking for and in what kind of company, combined with what you are qualified for. You’ll preferably want to work for a company that fits with you as a person, in a job that plays to your strengths and gives you access to the opportunities you want for future growth.

Also take a good hard look at your online presence, which is where potential employers and recruiters will often begin their search. Make sure your social networking profiles don’t contain anything embarrassing and that they are 100% up-to-date. Change your LinkedIn heading to indicate that you are open to opportunities and make sure you have at least 3 recommendations which is what you will need to show up in a recruiter search. You can enhance your chances of showing up in the results by using keywords relating to the position in your heading, title and summary. Pay particular attention to spelling and grammar as you will be rated on things like this! We will be looking at the best ways of putting your cover letter and CV together in a later article but online searches often happen before you have submitted anything so get this done before you begin your search.

While you’re at it, write up an elevator speech: a short 30 second summary of who you are, your unique value and what you are looking for, you never know who you might bump into.

Where to look:

  • Let your family, friends and acquaintances know you are looking and what you are looking for. They can often be the best source of leads and introductions.
  • Join and participate in both on and offline industry networks. The more connections you have, the better.
  • Consult with people in your field of interest. Uncover how they landed their job?
  • Make a list of as many companies as you can that appeal to you. Research them online. Many companies post openings on their websites. You can also take courage in hand and call them direct to find out if they have any current openings, speak to the HR Manager or even Director. Even if there are no current positions in line with your experience, ask them what kind of qualifications or experience they would look for if your dream position were to open.
  • Try to get hold of in-house company magazines as well as internal intranet postings through friends and family.
  • Subscribe to industry-specific magazines (you can often do this online), which tend to have a vacancies section and will help you uncover companies you may wish to work for.
  • Approach reputable recruitment agencies with proven relationships with companies in your field/s of interest. The best agencies often have information on unadvertised positions or can match you with a company that is not actively looking but for whom you are an ideal fit.
  • Register with applicable job sites. The best South African ones catering to all industries are CareerJunction, Careers24, PNet, Jobs, Jobvine and A quick google search can uncover other sites that specialize in specific industries such as IT or engineering. Make sure you set up job alerts with each of these sites so that you are notified the minute a new job is added that may interest you.
  • Scour more traditional sources such as newspapers.

Plan your activities using a calendar and keep your search focused. Applying for as many jobs as possible, even ones you are not qualified for, is actually a waste of your time and the employers and will not help you get a job any faster. Target a select group with a well-considered job-search strategy.

Remember, finding a job is a job and it pays to be organized. Keeping track will also show you what is and what isn’t working so you can adjust your strategy as you go along.

Here’s what to keep track of to keep your search organized (with thanks to job-hunt.org):

  • Job Sites
    • Name of each job site you joined and on what date, username and password.
    • Date you posted your CV and which version you used (nowadays it pays to have different versions targeted in different ways or emphasizing different skills or experience).
    • Phone calls or e-mails from potential employers that are traceable to your activity of each job site.
  • Other sources
    • The source of the lead, job title, job identifier number, employer name, location, and date / time you applied.
    • The version of your CV that you used and any cover letter (or cover paragraph) – print hard copies of these documents if you can.
    • Contact information for the employer or recruiter.
    • The names, titles, and dates for everyone with whom you spoke at the employer or recruiter.
    • Notes on any discussions you had (take notes and then write them up immediately after the conversation).
    • The follow up that you did (phone calls, emails, etc.), and the date and action of the next follow up step.
    • Feedback that you received from the recruiter, HR manager, hiring manager, etc.
  • Track your networking efforts as well
    • Who you contacted, when you contacted them, why you contacted them (know this before you dial the number or send the e-mail!), the outcome (e.g. left a message, had a conversation, made a lunch date, etc.), and the next step.
    • What association or society meetings you attended, when you attended, and who you met there.

You can simpy use an Excel spreadsheet to keep track or if you are interested in an online service that will assist you in tracking your job search, check out:

Good luck with your job search, we know you can succeed. As always, if we can be of any assistance, please get in touch.


  1. Checklist: 10 Things you Must Know: AARP Foundation
  2. Job Search Preparation: 20-Point Checklist: CareerHMO
  3. Checklist: Job Search: myfuture.com
  4. Getting Started 101: My Job Search Checklist: Seek
  5. Job Search Checklist for Job-Hunting Success: Quintessential Careers
  6. Tips on How to Find Jobs in South Africa: Mywage.co.za
  7. 10 Steps to Find a New Job: about careers
  8. Implementing your Job Search: Tracking Your Activities: job-hunt
  9. Job Search Management: about careers
  10. Create a Log to Keep Track of Your Job Search: Lifehacker
  11. Ways to Stay Organized on the Job Hunt: US News Money


December 22, 2014
9:32 am
by Anita Hoole

Workplace Trends for 2015

Specialist Recruitment


The workplace as we knew it has changed radically. And it has changed fast. We’ve looked at what top experts are predicting in order to bring you a summary of workplace trends for 2015. According to Jacob Morgan of the FOW Community, five overarching trends will continue to shape the future of work: new behaviours; technologies; the millennial (and beyond) workforce; mobility and globalisation. These, amongst an ever-escalating skills shortage.


  • New behaviours: The way we communicate now, build communities online, share and access information and collaborate, is also creating new behaviours in the workplace, forcing organisations to change.
  • Technologies: New technologies are changing the way we live and work: the cloud puts the power of technology in the hands of employees, robots and software are forcing us to rethink the jobs that humans can and should do, big data gives us insight into how we work and how customers transact with us, and collaboration platforms give us the ability to connect our people and information together anywhere, anytime, and on any device.
  • Millennials in the workplace: By 2020 our first truly digital generation, the millennials, are expected to make up 50% of the workforce. It’s estimated that 27-38% of millennials are already managers, 5% are senior management and 2% are executives. The problem these new managers have is they are unprepared for the positions. They were never trained on how to be good managers and are being pushed into these roles out of necessity – companies are losing older workers and positions are opening up fast.
  • Mobility: As long as you can connect to the internet, you have the same access as anyone in an office. 83% of job seekers currently use smartphones to search for job opportunities – next year there will be an even greater emphasis on mobile recruiting.
  • Globalisation: The language you speak, the currency you transact in, and where you are physically located continues to matter less and less.

According to Dan Schwabel of Forbes magazine, the following specific trends, amongst others, are predicted for the workplace during 2015:

  • Companies will hire Generation Z for internships: While many companies are still trying to understand and connect with millennials, some companies will recruit from the upcoming generation, Gen Z (born between 1994 and 2010). This, for two major reasons: 1) companies are trying to close the skills gap 2) companies are competing for the very best talent and so building brand awareness early (that means high school).
  • Honesty predicted to become a revered leadership trait: 52% of Gen Z’s and Gen Y’s state that honesty is the most important quality for a good leader. Companies are going to embrace transparency more next year – leaders won’t simply have to be good at inspiring and educating, they will have to be able to instill trust through honesty.
  • The continuous job search will pick up: Technology enables people to easily find new jobs – 86% of employees are already looking for work outside their current occupations and nearly one third of employers expect workers to job hop. Companies will need to increase retention rates by creating a superior work culture.
  • Succession planning to become a top priority: This is going to be a major concern for companies as more boomers start to retire. We will start to see companies holding onto their older workers in order to transfer knowledge to younger ones. About 65% of workers plan to work for pay in retirement.
  • Women to continue rising to power positions: Millennial women are now earning 93 cents for every dollar earned by men. New research also shows that the top financially successful companies have 37% of their leaders as women. With trends such as couples not having children, delayed adulthood, and more women attending college, there’s no doubt we will see more female leaders.

We also believe that flexwork will continue to be a focus, including variations on the theme such as job sharing. However, while flexwork is becoming more commonplace, training for success is rare. A 2015 imperative will be providing flexible workers and their managers with the training, development, coaching and other tools they need to make the arrangements work for the individual, team and organisation.

The future is here! If we can be of any assistance, please get in touch with me.