Attracting talent from the outside will always be important, writes Insaaf Daniels, human capital director at redPanda Software.
It is a bitter irony that in a country with an unsustainably high unemployment rate that there is a biting skills shortage, especially in the IT industry. In this environment, it is not unusual to read that attracting talent may be hard enough, but retaining it proves even more challenging.
Attracting talent from the outside will always be an important pillar in any organisation’s recruitment strategy, especially for roles that need to be filled immediately and where there is no obvious candidate internally. However, shifting tactically to proactively build a human capital strategy to grow talent from within not only goes a long way towards addressing the challenges mentioned, it builds a stronger, more robust, resilient and competitive business, and – importantly – goes a long way towards developing individuals. The sense of agency and pride in personal growth is a beauty to behold.
Growth is an ongoing journey. It certainly isn’t about achieving a certain milestone and then coasting for the rest of your career. Building an environment that encourages and supports growth is crucial. Consider this: some individuals, for a number of reasons, excel at setting goals, honing skills and preparing for interviews, while others need guidance and closer support.
As a leader, I understand that this disparity often boils down to factors such as knowledge, access to learning resources and mentorship. These support structures must be in place if an organisation is serious about growing from within.
Another factor is that there needs to be a focused and dedicated strategy to help existing staff and leaders buy into the company culture, values and mission. When interns are brought into the business, this company culture is transferred to them through mentorship and, frankly, just being in the same space.
By the time the person is halfway through an internship programme, they are, in many ways, already entrenched and part of the organisation – a big step towards being a good employee fit for the organisation. As they work through the programme they are already aware of expectations and obligations, where they can add value and where they need to grow. This is the opposite of an internship programme for its own sake.
Any business that has invested in internship programmes will know the challenge of retaining interns who face challenging situations. What does that mean? It could mean the mentor is temporarily unavailable, or that there is pressure of delivery and there are parts of the job they just aren’t getting right – yet. However, if they have already bought into the values and mission, they’ll see their potential future and growth, and feel an affinity towards the organisation and be more likely to work through current challenges and grow within the organisation.
The responsibility for personal growth lies with each team member. The onus is on the member to put their hands up, to seek out challenges, to apply for internal positions and to work with and learn from mentors.