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The death of 'Short-termism' in human capital development

November 6, 2017

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Get the best out of your team in tough times!

November 6, 2017


We often hear people refer to people related issues in the workplace as “soft issues”. Nothing could be further from the truth. How does as leader, who is often a techincal specialist, deal with the following issues:


  • Increase the level of inter-personal trust among employees;

  • Increase employees' level of engagement, satisfaction and commitment;

  • Confront team effectiveness problems instead of neglecting them;

  • Increase cooperation and collaboration among employees;

  • To help employees assume personal responsibility and accountability for their work outcomes;

  • To turn organisational values into actions that employees can live out everyday.


If you have ever tried to do the above mentioned things, you would know that these aren’t soft issues. We argue that it is much easier to understand computers than it is to understand people. If you design the right computer model, you can get predicatable results, with a high level of confidence. People aren’t machines. You can “input” the same data and get very different results. It is even much harder to get the best out of people in a tough economy. With the exception of companies such as Telkom and Capitec, most companies have reported that either their full years, half years or 2017 interims, show that earnings are either flat, showing very modest growth but mostly down. It is clear that Corporate South Africa is battling.


In good times, companies use a combination of Short Term Incentives (STIs) and Long-Term Incentives (LTIs) to motivate, incentivize and consequently retain talent. Bonuses are great and increases are decent. Recognition might include identifying top performers and paying for them to go on exotic holidays or something similar in costs. Doing this in tough times is very difficult.




Bonus pools are at best shrinking and at worst totally non-existent. Some increases are even below the Consumer Price Inflation (CPI). How do you get the best out of your team in these tough times? Our view? Individualize. Personalize. Get to know what's important to your team and provide that. Maybe someone is looking for flexibility instead of money? Talk to your team. Stay close to your talent. We know it is difficult and time consuming but that's really all you can do. Sometimes the answers we seek about our top talent can only come from them. Talk to them!


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