Change Makers 2015

JOHANNESBURG – The South African economy is facing one of the most challenging periods experienced in years with low economic growth expectations.

In this year’s budget speech by South African Minister of Finance, Pravin Gordhan, there was a clear call for the private sector to partner with government to help address some of the country’s most pressing issues – including power supply, infrastructure, water availability and job creation.

While it is in the interest of our colleagues in business to get on board, the current economic conditions are disproportionately harsh on business growth. The private sector has to ensure business sustainability under trying conditions; whilst giving consideration to its contribution to overall growth of the economy. During good, but even more crucially, in harsh times one of the critical assets for business sustainability that an organisation has is its human capital.

Companies have to focus on creating the kind of environment that seeks to not only attract, but importantly also retain talent. That is why companies, like Barloworld, actively seek out ‘change-makers’ in the workspace, who can both contribute to corporate leadership, but also make broader socio-economic contributions.

Barloworld, a distributor of leading brands and solutions provider in the mining, automotive, logistics and agriculture sectors, focuses on actively creating value for employees and giving them compelling reasons to remain in the organisation; and one of the key drivers of this value creation is performance-linked reward.

So what kind of people are change-makers for Barloworld? These are people who understand their role in delivering on the company’s vision; and serve to make a difference with their passion, ideas and determined actions. They inspire others with the way they initiate changes in their environment, tackle challenges, pioneer new thoughts and use innovative thinking to turn a situation around – thereby adding value for the stakeholders of the organisation.

But what can be done to inspire change-makers, refresh their thinking, spark new ideas and build confidence to do things differently?

Barloworld uses incentive tools to maximise employee performance, such as the implementation of balanced score cards which can be kept for both individuals and teams, with the outputs being measured and aligned with business objectives.

Employees are measured twice a year and reviewed to see where they are performing well, and what improvements can be made, with the results ultimately impacting on salary increases with the intention of encouraging employee ownership of their career progression.

Sometimes, when necessary, we make use of short term incentives for quick turnaround delivery, excellence and beyond the call of duty achievements – although in the long term employees are encouraged to focus on their career development with an eye on succession planning.

With industry changes, we are pushed to adapt. Great employees seek flexibility, and by focusing on the needs of our employees we are able to meet these demands.

If we look closely enough, inspiration is all around us – and we were recently reminded of this when we hosted our Change-maker Awards to recognise employees who have displayed true resilience and delivered reward to the company despite challenging business environments on a global scale.

Two senior woman innovators, Nela Varela and Sonia Borrás of the Iberian Barloworld Marine Unit, were named ‘Change-Makers of the Year’ in 2015 for their work in turning around this crucial segment of the Barloworld Group.

Iberia Marine has become one of the main assets that the group possesses and has managed to take our power business to the next level. In recent years, the business has dealt with significant challenges. The boats built in the Spanish shipyards were becoming obsolete and customers were demanding integrated product offerings and services as well as a greater level of training and support.

Barloworld Finanzauto anticipated this challenge, as well as the need to deliver solutions tailored according to customer needs. It built into the marine unit, the competence required to deliver a service that had previously been non-existent. The team was tasked with delivering integrated solutions to the customer, and with developing the technical skills to fill the gap between new and existing talent. And their growth has just started.

Whether it’s introducing ground-breaking new innovations, or simply just doing your job really well and bringing great returns to the company you serve, being a change-maker is a crucial approach to survive and excel in business today.

But at the end of the day, change happens. Organisations, groups, teams, and those working in collaboration or partnership, need to develop people's confidence and capacity to be more effective change-makers.  In business you get what you give – and therein lies the reward!

Sibani Mngomezulu is the Barloworld Group Executive for Human Resources, Strategy & Sustainability.

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