Developing talent key to economic growth

Developing talent key to economic growth

Writer Dan Millman

Audrey Mlambo

“TELL me, I will forget. Teach me and I will remember. Involve me and I will learn,” is a popular quote by Benjamin Franklin which I find interesting as I assess the structure of talent development initiatives in our market.
One critical area that I view requires focus before adopting a talent development framework is relevance of such intervention in bringing forth the required return on investment (ROI) — in our case, the much needed outcome of economic growth.
This proactive effectiveness assessment is key ahead of investing scarce resources in efforts that may not yield the required ROI.
Zimbabwe is blessed with high levels of literacy, at 83,7 percent according to the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (2015), giving a good source of talent.
Unfortunately, literacy is only a pre-requisite for opportunities; it (literacy) alone cannot provide automatic entry for the educated population of Zimbabwe to compete in the global space, whether for entrepreneurship activities or key roles within organisations.
Everyone is gifted. But most people never open their package.
The starting point for any organisation or entity in developing talent is therefore to identify the unique natural capabilities within individuals, which we commonly refer to as strengths.
Scientific processes need to be adopted in identifying strengths and identification process can range from utilising output of conversations, observations and performance assessments.
Such strength identification processes help organisations to channel resources towards appropriate initiatives aimed at developing skills that are likely to yield beneficial results for the organisation.
“A jet plane cannot mow the lawn, but it can fly to distant destinations. Don’t worry so much about what you can’t do; just do what you can as only you can do it,” said Dan Millman.
Leveraging on individual strengths is thus likely to produce desired skill sets that give organisation the competitive edge.
Analysis and establishment of an appropriate talent development framework becomes key in post strength identification process.
It is recommended that the framework comprise of different types of initiatives which can be applied on a needs basis, but with a more inclination towards job learning.
Principles such as the 70-20-10 principle (where 70 percent is on the job training, 20 percent is learning from others and 10 percent is formal learning) have revolutionised the workplace in ensuring that employees learn relevant skills in order to efficiently perform their work. The focus on such principles is around experiential learning.
The advent of the Millennials has in itself posed a big challenge on how best to adapt to the change that this generation has brought.
So fascinating is this generation that a lot of writers have come up with different names to refer to this group — Generation Y, Nexters and Echo Boomers among other names.
Christy Price, while writing on how to relate to Millennial Students, came up with these 5Rs for engaging Millennial students:
1. Research-based methods
Research suggests Millennials prefer a variety of active learning methods. When they are not interested in something, their attention quickly shifts elsewhere. Interestingly, many of the components of their ideal learning environment – less lecture, use of multimedia, collaborating with peers – are some of the same techniques research has shown to be effective, Price said.
2. Relevance
Millennials have grown up being able to Google anything they want to know, therefore they do not typically value information for information’s sake. As a result, the professor’s role is shifting from disseminating information to helping students apply the information.
3. Rationale
Unlike Boomers who were raised in a more authoritarian manner in which they more readily accept the chain of command, Millennials were raised in a non-authoritarian manner and are more likely to comply with course policies when teachers provide them with a rationale for specific policies and assignments.
4. Relaxed
Millennials prefer a less formal learning environment in which they can informally interact with the professor and one another.
5. Rapport
Millennials are extremely relational. They are more central to their parents’ lives than previous generations and are used to having the adults in their lives show great interest in them.
While the research which gave rise to the 5Rs relates to students, for any organisation to be successful in developing their talent, ignoring these facts about this emerging group of talent will be detrimental to the success of the organisation.
Successful organisations thus develop experiential opportunities as part of the talent development framework and make use of platforms such as talent-led projects which provide talent with independence and empowerment in implementing business solutions under competent guidance.
Such experiential solutions lead to cutting edge ideas on how to maximise business performance at the same time providing an agile work environment that engages talent.
Guidelines on developing talent development
*Define: Define the desired outcomes and success measures.
*Analyse: Conduct a needs analysis to understand the skills your leaders require.
*Develop: Establish the progra-mme framework including the content outline, participant selection criteria and activity options.
*Build: Develop the programme content and determine the most effective delivery method.
*Execute: Execute the progra-mme and evaluate the outcome.
Remember, whichever intervention an organisation decides to implement should be closely monitored to assess effectiveness and allow for enhancements where required and the most important aspect is to ensure effectiveness of the talent development framework in meeting the overall goals of the individual and the organisation.
Opportunities for Zimbabwe
*High literacy levels at 83,7 percent.
*A population with a natural drive for success.
*Organisations with willingness to partner with relevant stakeholders to drive the talent development agenda.
*Examples of this has been the launch on internship programmes designed for local students, financial literacy training for local schools and universities and cultural exchange programmes where locals are sent to developed markets to learn best practice.
Benefits of appropriate talent development agenda
*Improved relevant technical and leadership bench strength to run organisations.
*Resultant improved performan-ce of our organisations and ability to compete effectively in the global space.
*No need to import skills, rather be net exporters of talent who can compete effectively in the global space.
*Increased entrepreneurship.
*Economic growth as people are at the heart of development but require right skills.

Audrey Mlambo is the head of human resources for Standard Chartered Bank Zimbabwe Limited.

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