KZN Business Sense - Employing and keeping talented emp loyees is more critical [for long term Business survival] Musa Makhunga, Managing Director, HR Matters
KZN Business Sense - Employing and keeping talented emp loyees is more critical [for long term Business survival] Musa Makhunga, Managing Director, HR Matters

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KZN Business Sense - Employing and keeping talented emp loyees is more critical [for long term Business survival] Musa Makhunga, Managing Director, HR Matters


Employing and keeping talented employees is critical for the long-term survival of any business, no matter how small or big. It is not hard to see why this is the case, as there is a very close relationship between long-term business success and the talent employed.

I always find it hard to resist the temptation of discussing talent without borrowing from the biblical parable of the talents ' Mathew 25:14-25.  In this parable a man, before departing on a long journey, gives five talents to one servant, to the second two talents, and to the last one talent ' each according to his ability. A talent was a monetary unit worth about twenty years' wages for a labourer. It therefore is plain to see that the servants had been entrusted with serious responsibilities. Upon his return the master asks what they did with the money. The first and second servants doubled their investments and received their master's praise. The third servant, who was given one talent, safeguarded the money but did nothing to increase it.

The following reasons for my thoughts apply:
  • Often the case for attracting and retaining talented people is premised on globalisation, digitisation, war for talent, technological and socioeconomic developments of the 21st Century, when in fact this act (attracting and retaining talent) is as old as the human race itself
  • There are elements in the parable that are as relevant today as they were when the parable was written, pointing to the need for businesses not to take finding and keeping talented employees for granted
  • It allows us to view talent management from both the employer and employee's points of view.
  • The parable is multi layered thus allowing for a number of insights and lessons to be drawn from it.
In today's terms talent refers to competence plus potential.

Needless to say individuals endowed with these two traits find it is easier to multiply that which they are doing either for themselves or for their employers.  Competence is made up of skills, knowledge and attitude, which is gathered through formal and informal personal growth and development.

Potential is possible competence that develops according to how it is nurtured through coaching, mentoring, training and leadership.

Back to the biblical parable of talents, the master had three servants, which signifies that a business has persons whose actions realise its strategic and operational goals. The people brought into any business
determine the extent to which the business would either succeed or fail. However, many a business owner does not invest time, energy and resources in finding talented people. Business owners who scoff at the idea of using independent service providers to find talented people always fascinate me. They hold
the view that finding talented people equates to people bringing their relatives, friends, children and spouses to work there as well. Nothing could be further from the truth. Research proves the close relationship between organisational success and talented people who are hand picked for their competence and potential.

In the parable we are told that the master was going away, presumably on business. Bearing in mind travel was not as easy as it is in the 21st Century, he would be away for an extended period of time. However , this was not an issue for him. He had employed talented people and therefore his business still thrived even though he was away. Talented employees allow business owners to concentrate on other important aspects of running the business.

Finding talented people only just gets the business owner into the game. Staying the course and winning the game each and every time requires more from the owner. Allocating and delegating according to the abilities of each employee presupposes that the business owner knows the capabilities of everyone one of his employees.

On the master's return the parable offers more insights into employer/employee relations.

We learn that the master's return on investment was only by two servants and not by the third one.
The exchange between the nonperforming servant and the master gives us valuable insights into the
type of conditions that are not conducive to nurturing talent.

The autocratic style of the master prevented the one servant from being proactive, as he knew his master was a hard man. This indicates that the master had a deficit of at least 33.3% of potential earnings by not getting anything from this servant and would continue losing this and possibly much more, all because of his style.

Talented employees thrive in assertive workplaces, which are prepared to listen and process reason and cause of why performance has or has not happened.

The parable does also indicate the types of conditions, which are prerequisites for talent to grow. There is no better way of nurturing talent than to heap praise where it is due in equal measure. This praise has to be immediate so that it can have the desired effect. It should not wait either for the formal sitting of a performance review and must be in equal measure to the performance.

The master was praiseworthy to the first two servants and had only good things to say and even rewarded their performance by giving them more. Reward and recognition does not have to be
monetary, as most businesses and people have come to think. The master recognised performance both in word and deed. We know this because the master even said, 'Well-done, good and faithful servant'. A
simple act of acknowledging good performance goes a long way in reinforcing great performance.

In this highly competitive labour market and in the environment where people have more choice in terms of earning a living, it makes it critical for long term survival of the business to find and keep talented individuals. 

This article is an edited version of one which first appeared in Businesswise
Publication 2013.

Musa Makhunga, Managing Director
Mobile: +27 83 2516704
Fax to email :+2786 6321426

KZN Business Sense - Employing and keeping talented emp loyees is more critical [for long term Business survival] Musa Makhunga, Managing Director, HR Matters

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