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Talent war and workplace conflict


GERI-ANN AUSTIN

Talent war and workplace conflict

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THE SAGA OF existing employees waging war against newcomers and their positive attitudes raises concerns for human resources practitioners who are concerned with continuously improving the level and quality of talent acquired by the organisation.

There has been a fundamental change in the type of candidate selected to fill particular positions that, based on the organisation’s strategic mandate, can contribute in a significant way towards its achievement.

However, due to the rapid nature of these changes, at times, they are not properly or effectively communicated to existing employees so that they understand or at least, are fully aware of the change in the organisation’s strategic direction. Existing employees are not made aware of how these developments impact on them and the routine that reflects their work life.

Companies’ talent acquisition models are changing or have changed. Whereas the standard used to be to hire those who can take instructions and not challenge the status quo by being innovative and creative; now more companies need to distinguish themselves from the competition in order to remain at the head of the game. Therefore, the need for a new talent acquisition guide with a reconstituted profile of what the ideal employee is supposed to be.

Particular focus needs to be placed on the interaction between those employees who are excellent at keeping the boat afloat by ensuring that the existing methods of operating remain the same no matter the circumstances and those who wish to rock the boat by trying creative and innovative methods which they consider are more apt and responsive to navigating the harsh conditions under which they must operate.  

In order to gain the most from the interactions, the new vision must be clearly and effectively communicated to employees. This communication must be conveyed in word and most important, in actions, in order to foster understanding and co-operation.

It is in this way that employees are always assets and they are engaged in the achievement of the organisation’s mandate, growth and advancement. Dissatisfied and disengaged employees are a cost to the organisation and as such it is imperative that transparency and fairness be the hallmarks of all interactions.

Ensure that you create the conditions where employees feel free to try innovative and creative ways of solving existing challenges or to offset potential challenges. Should anything go wrong or not quite the way they had planned, do not punish them for being creative and responsive to the operations’ needs, use this as a learning opportunity so they can reflect, dust themselves off and go again, much like many of the great inventors/innovators of our time. 

However, if they are punished for their creativity and responsiveness then you will never see that creativity or responsiveness again. Employees will retreat to the complying with the antiquated rules and standards that are not responsive to the business but will ensure that they are not considered and even labelled as incompetent. 

While not all policies and procedures are antiquated, it is essential to be able to recognise the ones that are and seek to streamline them so that the organisation’s growth and development objectives are not frustrated. Further, long serving employees must be continuously trained to be cutting edge in the execution of their jobs so that they are comfortable with the need for change.

Another way to foster synergy and generate positive employee relations is via cross generational and existing and new employee peer to peer development. Essentially, both employees can assist in the improvement of each other’s areas of challenge, thereby creating mutually beneficial relationships.

Existing employees would, of course, be fully aware of the company as it used to be, the new employees are aware of what the company wants to become.

Therefore, informational sessions about the new culture must be shared in open forum so that all employees are aware of the new norms and values the company is in the process of creating, that support for the change can be generated without the excessive conflict and potential employee disengagement and lack of trust that such changes, if not communicated and implemented properly, can cause.

Employee talents, skills and competencies matrix can be developed so that in addition to executing their primary role or as part of their existing role, employees are assigned to work on projects to which they can add more value to the organisation. 

Give employees the extra support that is needed to understand the new requirements and assist them in acquiring the skills necessary to successfully navigate the relatively new or changed environment.

In the meantime, they must not be permitted to thwart the efforts of the newer employees from achieving the organisation’s mandate. Overall, it is imperative that diversity be embraced in the workplace and creativity and innovativeness must be lauded in order to achieve continuous improvements and to achieve the ever changing business requirements.

Therefore, while hiring the right people that can take the organisation to the next level is essential, existing systems, policies and procedures must be modified in order to facilitate the changes required. Further, the new method of doing business must be communicated to existing employees and training applied in order to wherever possible, be able to operate effectively and efficiently as well as cope with the confusion and resistance that employing new methods of doing business brings.

• Geri-Ann Austin is an experienced human resources and employee relations professional. Email: [email protected]

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