A major conference will be held in September this year bringing together the top human resources executives from the region to discuss the challenges to strategic people management faced by African organisations. HR Leaders in Africa 2012 is being organised by international conference leaders Informa in conjunction with Afrocet, and will run from 10 to 12 September in Lagos. Representatives from leading Nigerian and international companies, including IBM, Halliburton, Unilever, Microsoft, and MTN Nigeria Communications Ltd, will examine innovative HR strategies to help organisations meet their goals and improve performance.
Stevens Sainte-Rose, Group HR Director of Coca-Cola’s Eurasia Africa group has highlighted the importance of this conference, stating, “Africa is the last frontier for most multi-national companies. It faces several challenges to HR professionals to support business growth. This conference will be key to help understand and being to address these challenges.”
To improve performance, organisations need to be able to build “systems, cultures and a leadership style that better align personal and organisation goals” says Patrick Okedinachi Utomi of Lagos Business School. “When Charles Perrow argued in his book, Complex Organisations, about the ease of substituting organisational goals with personal goals he could have been writing about a central challenge that results in the underperformance of many organisations in Africa and accounts for many low demand environments in the continents business and the public sector”.
Another vital challenge is securing a talent pipeline of skilled, competent staff. “Making sure the organisation has the skills and competencies to deliver its business objectives, and ensuring that there are enough skilled people coming through the organisation to replace senior staff who are retiring, are issues that we are facing right now. We need to make sure that our HR staff are up to this challenge”, said Amina Oyagbola of MTN Nigeria Communications Limited.
Other topics up for discussion include coaching and mentoring young professionals from the grass roots up, reward systems, talent management, good governance in the employment sector and responsible leadership.
A report published last year by Accenture noted, “… where highly educated people are available, they tend to lack practical management experience. Although employing expatriates is an option, this is not always the best solution. Expatriate personnel might find the living conditions in many African countries difficult. Employing foreign workers also slows down the skills transfer process.” The conference will examine the critical role government has to play in developing and implementing sound labour market policies and in improving educational standards to support business growth.