The State of the Nation and Executive Search



Much political and economic doom and gloom surrounds us when reading our tabloids and listening to the latest news. This affects how we do business and how we strategise into the future.

How does it affect talent and our ability to strategise for acquisition, retention and attraction?

Chief Economist at Econometrix, Azar Jammine has carried out research on the ongoing brain drain of the highly skilled, largely white population currently reducing at a rate of about 0,1% per annum – this, despite the growing population in our country.  These skilled individuals are emigrating to countries such as the UK, Canada and Australia, who demonstrate a great demand for their skills.

This movement in our talent pool opens up opportunities for black talent to step into these openings and take on the challenges available to them.

It goes without saying that it is these critical roles that require filling, that are keeping search firms on their toes. When a mandate goes out to a search firm, the requirement is almost exclusively for the role to be filled by an EE candidate, regardless of who the previous incumbent was. Increasingly, search firms seek replacements for individuals who are leaving the country, not those who are moving up the ranks or on to other organisations.

We are not talking about middle management talent, churned by in-house recruitment departments.  We are referring to highly skilled, scarce technical leaders who fit the demographics required and herein lies the challenge.

This state of affairs bodes well for talent moving up the ranks and seeking opportunities to advance but it doesn’t bode well for organisations looking to fill their talent pipelines with mentors for up and coming talent. A gaping hole is starting to form, essential for the development of young, black South African leaders in our country.

As the third party to the recruitment process, looking in, search firms gain insight into possible scenarios that assist with the prevention of talent attrition.

The brain drain at the executive end is minimised if employees clearly understand and appreciate their role towards the bigger picture. Although remuneration is important, it is a fact that executive talent seeks advancement opportunities and participation in the strategy of the organisation.  It is this self- development and advancement of their skills that they seek in order to secure a path towards achieving long term wealth.

Successful mentors at our client companies, are measured on their ability to retain black talent, offer true mentorship, guidance and assistance with future studies and a clearly defined career path, detailing the steps to achieve success in the organisation. They “dig deep” to find out what motivates their people.

They understand their mentee’s competencies, passions and people skills. They understand how the workplace environment and culture affects the mentee and they also take the time to understand lifestyle factors like how much time they are able to devote to work and family.  They’ve “got your back”.  And they give it to you straight when improvements need to be made.

On the flipside, reasons for leaving can largely be reduced to a lack of empowerment and trust.  Organisations retain talent when they focus on the positive, bring out the best in people, lead by example and take responsibility for their decisions.

Mentorship is a critical tool for creating higher levels of performance and is often merely rhetoric or is attended to on an ad-hoc basis.  In our view, it should be a priority project for all organisations.  When we work to embed top talent in our culture and strategy, retention is without a doubt improved.

For further information about Executive Search, please contact Managing Partner, Carilyn Oxley on +27 83 601 2500