Attracting Talent

I have read that our government is interested in improving the software of the country and wants to attract top talent to Malaysia to work. There were several measures announced by our PM during the unveiling of our 10th Malaysia Plan. Personally, I am not quite sure if the government is going to succeed in an area that they have been trying to address for a long time.

The reason is simple – you cannot attract talent with money alone.

As shown in the video, while money is important, it is not the prime motivator for talent. Once talented people have enough money to sustain their lifestyles, it ceases to be the primary motivation and is replaced by autonomy, mastery and purpose. This is where I think that we fail in Malaysia.

For one, it is not easy for us to find an organisation that eschews autonomy in Malaysia. Our mentality has always reflected a more ‘top-down’ approach that rewards ‘yes men’ and punishes ‘rebel leaders’ that are viewed as ‘difficult to manage’. This is a problem that exists in both the government and private sector and is partially due to our cultural inclination to listen to our seniors.

However, the biggest problem is a lack of purpose. Ever since our dear old TDM vacated his seat, our country seems to have lost its purpose. Our previous PM tried to move us towards agriculture that the present PM does not seem that focused on. We seem to be a ship without a rudder and that has got me a little worried. However, without an overarching purpose, it will be difficult to retain talent. These people need to know that what they do will actually affect the lives of other people and create an impact.

Personally, while I think that the idea is good, it will join the ranks of all other great Malaysian ideas.

Published by

Shawn Tan

Chip Doctor, Chartered/Professional Engineer, Entrepreneur, Law Graduate.

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