As an SME, the quality of your team is important to your future success, especially if you are employing just 4-10 local employees. There are different skills and attributes that are important compared to those you may look for in other countries.
Here are some hints to ensure that you always (or almost always!) employ the best Thai employees.
1. Make sure you know exactly what you NEED as an SME, not only what you WANT. You may meet a superb potential Marketing Manager and feel tempted to veer from your HR plan to recruit them, but if you need a Sales Manager right now, focus on that.
2. Understand the skills that are most important to you, especially the ones that you don't think you can teach yourself. Add these to your own selection criteria for the positions you are recruiting for.
*Note recruitment process itself will be addresses in another article.
3. When interviewing applicants keep the following in mind:
a) Experience with other SME's and an understanding that SME's don't necessarily have the same formal processes and limited job descriptions of a larger organisation.
b) Applicants from wealthy Thai families tend to have higher opinions of their abilities than they perhaps should. Combined with a sense of 'entitlement' means that often these employees leave very quickly if the novelty of office work is not what they hoped.
c) Long term plans - always ask what your applicants plan is 2-3 years from now. Be wary of answers that involve further education overseas, as these applicants tend to have applied for courses already and may leave you at the last minute if you hire them.
Also be wary of those who say their longer term ambition is to work in a position completely different to the one you are interviewing for! This means they are applying to work with you as a stop-gap.
d) Ego - there are Thai applicants who will heavily emphasise contacts in local government or military. While this may be beneficial, it may also not be what you are looking for in an applicant. Think carefully. You want someone who recognises that they have things to learn!
e) Ask applicants to provide references to their previous superiors and ask them in advance "what would this person say about you in I called them now?". Make sure you have a Thai-National to call their reference, so you are not limited by the language barrier.
f) Be wary of the 'jumper' who has worked for 4 companies in 4 years - really understand the reasons they left each job and check this with their references.
g) Focus on attitude and a willingness to learn - skills you can teach; attitude is what you are looking for in Thailand. Especially those that are willing to grow WITH your small business. This is especially true with applicants who have worked in larger Thai-orientated companies (see below)
h) Understanding of the differences between Thai-style management and Foreign-management skills. Thai structures tend to discourage questioning, problem solving, creativity, accountability - all things you WANT to encourage at your SME.
Following these guidelines will help you screen applicants and to find the best possible Thai staff for your SME. Good luck.
Written by Stuart Blott, General Manager, Sutlet Group and CEO of Fusion Business Concepts
Fusion Business Concepts is a Member of the Sutlet Group and provides HR planning, recruitment, training and HR templates for small businesses in Thailand.
Sutlet Group is a leading provider of business solutions in Thailand, including accounting, visa and work permit management, HR and marketing services.