Top five webinars reveal HR’s focus in 2021


CHRO South Africa's top five webinars discussed a range of topics HR leaders have to grapple with now.

CHRO South Africa hosted a wealth of webinars in 2021, helping viewers to grow their knowledge and boost their careers. These are the top five.

1. Using human-centric and data-centric ways to improve succession planning processes

In an engaging webinar sponsored by HFMTalentindex, talent management leaders shared their learnings on succession planning, while providing practical advice on how to get started and improve existing processes.

Asked what succession planning is, managing director and founder of Novo, Graham Fehrsen, said for him it’s a long-term prospect: “It’s something that organisations put in place as a discipline and it combines both data-centric and human-centric approaches that create greater talent certainty on one hand, but also greater organisational agility on the other hand.”

Graham shared that in his experience working as an executive coach with leaders in transition, that when succession planning is well executed, leaders have a plan on how to take up their new roles and people understand how those roles will be integrated.

“And if it's not done well, the risk is that your organisation potentially loses direction. Often in that early stage, executives drown themselves in trying to take up the seat without a clear plan and I see a lot of burnt-out executors. So there are two parts. There’s organisational risk, and there’s individual risks. Succession planning isn’t just risk mitigation, but also an opportunity to do some future and forward looking.”

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2. Looking at accelerated learning: what works and what doesn’t

In a webinar hosted by Yellow Seed Consulting experts discussed practical examples for how to accelerate learning for the new reality, how to create cultures of learning through addictive learning design, and how to identify learning needs proactively to cater for the predicted skills gap.

Learning scientist and author Professor Nick van Dam, Old Mutual group talent and learning executive Sanjana Joshua, Yellow Seed Consulting head of learning and development Ryno Zeelie and Yellow Seed Consulting head of people development professor Lome Koekemoer, shared how to achieve outcomes and give your people the skills and adaptability they need for the changing future of work.

Ryno said the burning question is, “Why do we need to accelerate learning? And a good way to illustrate that is the skills shortage – which is a reality in South Africa at the moment.”

“Studies have found that digitisation creates a great opportunity for growth and new jobs, but what we are seeing is that South Africa and many other countries are lagging behind with the types of skills required by these jobs.”

Ryno said that even though the studies are saying digitisation is creating more jobs, the narrative in people’s heads is that their unemployment is because there are not enough jobs. He added that the new world of work requires new ways of doing things from organisations, individuals and government.

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3. Experts discuss battling lockdown fatigue to keep relationships, staff and the business secure

During a webinar titled “HR fighting lockdown fatigue”, Jon Foster-Pedley, the dean of Henley Business School, shared some perspective on uplifting and refocusing your people as they continue to work in a high-risk national environment. He was joined by Paula Quinsee, author and relationship expert, and Mehnaaz Bux, a partner and employment law specialist at Webber Wentzel.

Jon said that in order to cope with stress and fatigue, HR leaders need to make reality their friend, reskill and upskill and also understand safety.

“HR leaders need to learn to be detached and have emotional control. A lot of fears come up but you have to challenge your fears and see what is in front of you even though it frightens you. You need to be able to see and understand how different things influence each other.”
He suggested that HR leaders practise being good visualisers and disregard the voices in their heads that say they are not being professional or good enough.

He added that leaders need to speak in ways people understand. “Leaders have to speak from a stance of quality and not from being special and different from anybody else. They need to look people in the eye and have mutual respect, and understand where other people are coming from.”

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4. How companies are upskilling and reskilling for the future

In a CHRO SA webinar sponsored by Mercer, four experts gathered to discuss how organisations are tackling the urgency to build and acquire the new skills required for the future.

Tesantha Naidoo, a career consultant at Mercer, Njabulo Mashigo, the HR director at Vodacom, Elizabeth Rachidi, HR director at Tiger Brands, and Elizabeth Waititu, the head of HR at Jubilee Insurance (Kenya), spoke about the fast-growing need to build flexible work models due to expense control and increases in project work, talent sharing and contingent workforces.

Tesantha said last year companies entered a new world of transformation. “If we look at how we did things in the past versus how we do them now, we can no longer embark on transformation in isolation, as it has become an interconnected imperative.”

She shared some of the questions organisations should be asking themselves in order to address the skills based approach to the new world of work:

1. How do I identify the skills I need for the future?
2. Where should I prioritise my L&D spend to build capacity in core areas?
3. How can I facilitate flexible careers across my organisation?
4. How can I build a more agile organisation?
5. How do I restructure jobs around automation and refocus work?’

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5. How to unlock growth in your people, using technology as the enabler

The concept of performance management is taking on a new hue, with the historic compliance-based approach moving to a human-centric approach, using the power of conversations to connect with employees.

This was revealed during a CHRO webinar, titled “Performance management reboot: Unlocking growth through meaningful conversations”.

Carol Koffman, head of performance management at Standard Bank, set the scene on the financial institution’s journey to employee growth and performance being driven from within, using technology as the enabler for change.

“Performance management is a loaded topic that has been spoken about almost as an annoyance or a puzzle. The landscape, research and articles have tended to stay in the realm of ratings and formulaic descriptors. Discussions were singular and ringfenced, with employees and business not sticking to what they decided,” she explained.

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