Reinventing teams and their leaders for the future (Part 1): Internal vs external recruiting

CFOs often need to oversee the skilling up of their teams. But junior employees aren't the only staff who need to grow and learn - the demand for development exists all the way to the very top, with leaders needing to embrace learning opportunities as much as anyone else on their teams.

It’s a business truism that change is the only constant. So, in this day and age being able to reinvent yourself can be the one skill that will support the future-proofing of your business and ensuring that the company adapts itself to the ever-changing economic climate.

Indeed, there can be nothing more devastating for a company that has grown itself and its brand as well as survived the worst financial climates, only to fail at the hands of poor leadership.

There is no doubt, the need for internal structural changes for most companies is both real and necessary. Company staff contingents range substantially between people who have been there for most of their careers, are fiercely loyal and woven into the very framework of the company, and new recruits. As technology evolves, company executives find themselves looking outside the business to help them cross the digital divide. A big challenge facing CFOs is the delicate balancing act: The decision to bring in fresh blood with required skills, versus internal promotions into positions of leadership.

While the company benefits from having the new skills through this vital and speedy resolve to adapt, it can also create a situation where some people are being promoted or recruited into leadership positions without previous experience or understanding of the history of the company.

A balancing act Hannes Boonzaaier, CFO at the AfroCentric Group, has had to deal with recently. “In order to be able to expand into new territories and grow digitally, we’ve had to bring in new people with those skills into the senior management structures, rather than promote from inside.”

Long-term employees might feel as though they’d been passed over for opportunities to progress in this case, but Hannes says people should never be in the same position or role for more than five years anyway. “We use a rotational system so employees can gain new skill sets and experience in other areas to act as a buffer when hiring fresh blood in newly created leadership roles.”

For the company to gain all the benefits that new leadership roles can provide, learning and development professionals must help new managers understand their role and responsibility when it comes to managing and leading people. It’s vital that they provide the necessary tools and support to their new leaders to ensure that they don’t flounder under the responsibility.

The Trading Company acting CFO Luyanda Gidini prefers a democratic approach when dealing with staff. He said that the government-backed broadband networking company expects input from all team members, making every individual a part of the decision-making process. Tech disruption in accounting has been commonplace since the entrance of Microsoft Excel and advances in technology is flipping the traditional accounting roles on its head.

Luyanda’s team is at the forefront of these disruptions, and is working closely with its staff to skill up for the future. As unemployment in South Africa reaches nearly 30 percent, government entities are approaching retrenchments with caution and job losses due to advancing technology are heavily regulated. “If I see someone needs to upgrade their skill set to handle new job functions, the company will enrol them in the correct programmes so they can be empowered and proficiently skilled to meet digital demands in their roles. This approach also empowers them,” says Luyanda

If companies are now rerouting a significant portion of the business resources on training and reskilling, then retaining skilled employees should definitely be high on that company’s agenda. Younger employees don’t have the same ethos of growing with the company as their predecessors. In fact, many young people enter companies with no intentions of a long-term commitment. However, millennials are not shy about their desires for more than just a paycheque, with particular emphasis on a healthy work environment. This means that while younger blood will check out for more meaningful roles, they may also be more likely to choose mental wellbeing over a paycheque.