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7 Answers for the Questions Facing HR Directors in Southeast Asia

At the end of this month CloudForce HR is proud to be hosting a one day seminar here in Bangkok with two of the HR world’s greatest contemporary thought leaders. We got together with special guest speaker, Dr. Ronald C. Page, to hear from him some of his insights on Talent Management for the 21st century:

30 Years of Perspective

CloudForce HR: From the perspective of someone who’s been an innovator in Human Resources for three decades, what do you believe are the most fundamental changes this industry has undergone?

Dr. Page: HR used to focus on managing employee transactions and information. HR leaders were expected to be good administrators. The expectations of HR have risen steadily along with higher levels of compensation. HR salaries in Thailand have risen faster than most other functions in the last 3 decades. Many people are concerned that finding good HR talent is getting harder to find at senior levels.

A significant number of senior HR leaders in Thailand have been in their current assignments less than 2 years. Thailand is also reaching a statistical tipping point where the number of people leaving the workforce will be greater than the numbers coming into the labor force. Employee turnover is an ongoing issue for most organizations. The number of registered employment agencies in Thailand has steadily increased to over 200.

Managing employee selection and retention is and will continue to be a significant challenge for organizations. They are expecting their HR organizations to figure out how to better manage talent.

HR looking to the future – Organizations must get better at talent management

CloudForce HR: What impact have these changes had on the industry, and what do you believe will be the key trends moving forward?

Dr. Page: We have seen people being recruited from organization to organization. The development of HR talent is failing to keep up with demand. But it doesn’t stop with HR. There are several functions that are affected by shortages of talent pools. Finance, Marketing, Sales, IT are all areas where it is sometimes difficult to find and keep talent.

Organizations will have to get better at managing talent, meaning both recruitment and retention. One way HR can help is to get better at recruiting and selection. When organizations go out to recruit, there are three things they have to be able to do; know where to go to find talent, be able to attract them and have excellent selection processes.

At any given time, only about 10-15% of the qualified candidates for a given position will be at all interested in an approach based on timing factors alone. Not all organizations are going to have an attractive enough employer brand to be able to attract a significant number of applicants. Not all organizations are going to be able to offer top levels of compensation. Then there is how well organizations manage their selection process, who they involve in meeting with the candidates, how well they treat candidates and how quickly they are prepared to move to make an offer.

Getting better at managing the selection process will be a key differentiation in organizations meeting their talent management goals.

CloudForce HR:  Throughout your career you’ve developed HR initiatives in the US, Europe, Asia and Africa. What, if any, have you found to be the unifying principles for HR that transcend cultural differences, and what are the particular challenges facing HR in Asia?

Dr. Page: HR has taken a lot more interest in research into HR best practices how to implement these within their own organizations. More and more HR organizations are becoming proactive in making changes to HR processes to improve them.

This is not change for change sake. They have to know what keeps their business leadership up at night and figure out how to professionally solve these problems in a way that returns value. Increasingly, HR is spending more time getting to know the organizations strategy and how that will affect the organization structure and talent needs. They have to figure out how these changes will affect selection criteria (e.g. job descriptions, job analysis, competencies), how these changes will impact headcount, compensation and budgets, where and how to recruit, how much they should rely on internal candidates to fill key positions vs. going out to the external job market, how to work with search companies, what assessment techniques to employ.

Talent management will become increasingly important and each organization will have to have processes and tools in place that do this very well.

Our feeling is that about 2/3 of organizations still have significant room for improvement in these areas and will benefit from focusing on them in the next year.

Understanding competencies is key to talent management

CloudForce HR: You’re well known for your expertise on employee and organizational effectiveness. To what degree is accurate competency modeling a critical factor for optimizing staffing efficiency?

Dr. Page: Understanding competencies is a key to talent management. This extends from setting the competency requirements of new jobs to keeping up with the changes in competency requirements in existing jobs driven by organization changes. Competency profiles and assessment are key areas of talent management.

Another growing area dependent on competency profiles is that of executive coaching. In Thailand there are now at least 50 executive coaches offering their services and more and more Thai organizations are opting to retain executive coaching services for some of their key talent. Executive coaches may be retained to work with executives to help them improve their existing performance or help them transition from one assignment to another or to help them successfully on board in a new organization. All coaching activities depend on an accurate assessment of the needs of the individual vs. the expectations of the assignment.

What is assessed is usually the competencies that are required for success on the job and the assessment of where the individual is currently in their own development. There are a number of high quality tools and processes that aid in the accurate and timely assessment of competencies. These help the coach and senior leadership focus the coaching on the most important competency areas for development. Competencies are the language of selection, performance and development.

CloudForce HR: Being able to readily identify high potential candidates and employees is a critical factor in the success of any company. What are the most effective tools at HR’s disposal for meeting this task?

Dr. Page: Most organizations have some sort of talent management process. The modern “9-Box” method of Talent Management takes a look at every candidate on two variables, performance and potential. Most organizations have their own performance management process but often struggle with the potential assessment.

There are several tools that offer help with this part of the talent management process. Two such tools are the 360 degree surveys and/or incorporation of high end Advancement Potential measurement.

Recent studies of what contributes to effective talent management are two factors, evaluation of individual performance and individual potential.

A recent innovation the definition and measurement of potential is based on scientific research into what makes up potential. What we have found is that it’s a measurable combination of certain personality traits and certain levels of cognitive ability. Organizations now have a tool that plots the individual’s advancement potential which can then be plotted into the 9-Box grid with the assessment of the individuals organizational performance. This is making the talent management process in most organizations much more objective, fair and accurate.

CloudForce HR: From your experience, what are the most important factors to consider when selecting management staff in Thailand? What processes will lead to the highest probability of a successful placement?

Dr. Page: Start by having a rigorous and fair talent management process that identifies high potential internal staff. The second is to have an excellent relationship with one or two key search partners who know and understand your organization’s talent needs and preferences.

As mentioned earlier, whenever you go out to the market at any one point in time there will only be 10-15% of the qualified available candidates who through interest, motivation and timing will be available for recruitment during your time horizon. If an organization has a strategic relationship with one or two key search partners, they can continually scan the environment and let you know if and when a key talent becomes available even if the organization is not actively looking for that function at the moment. In this way, an organization can make strategic hires when necessary on the availability of candidates, not necessarily tied to when the organization is commissioning a specific search.

Companies that learn how to manage cross border talent efficiently will greatly benefit from AEC 2015

CloudForce HR:How do you think HR managers should prepare for the 2015 ASEAN free labor movement as it relates to selection and retention? How do you feel Talent retention will be affected in Thailand post 2015?

Dr. Page: Thailand organizations will have to improve their ability to recruit and select people from outside of Thailand as well as to select people in other countries. Thai companies will be able to move into neighboring countries and set up their own branches there much more easily without foreign ownership issues.

With the increasingly free movement of skilled labor, and not requiring work permits, Thai organizations should be able to recruit some candidates directly from abroad. They will have to identify and select certain key executives to go out as expatriates to help establish companies or branch operations in neighboring countries. They will also have to hire local employees in those countries and will have to have selection processes that they can seamlessly employ in branch offices abroad. This means establishing job and competency profiles and compensation ranges for jobs outside of Thailand. They will need a consistent selection process that gets used in other countries that they trust to make good people decisions.

Even with excellent processes it is difficult to manage processes abroad when you are not there but you have to ingrain these processes with a sense of purpose, conviction and discipline. Managing talent across borders will become a big area of differentiation for those companies that benefit the most from AEC 2015.

HR Expert Seminar – About the speakers

Dr. Ronald C. Page is a world renowned HR expert who has invested over three decades in creating, developing and implementing innovative human resource programs in North America, Europe, Asia, and Africa. He’s the author of over forty papers, articles, book chapters, and presentations on various human resource topics and was a recipient of the 2004 Research Award from the Minnesota Career Development Association.

Mr Tom Payne has worked as a senior HR executive for Fortune 500 companies for over thirty years. He’s a member of the Society of Industrial and Organizational Psychology (SIOP) and the International Association of Applied Psychology (IAAP) and has worked as a consultant for such clients the United Nations, Chevron, and Pepsico. Tom is the author of the book Selecting Winners.

Reserve your seats now

To ensure you’re participation in the seminar be sure to reserve your seats today.

  • Where: Conrad Hotel, The New York Room 87 Wireless Road, Phatumwan, Bangkok
  • When: 28th Nov from 1:30 pm to 5:00 pm with a 30 min break
  • Cost: 950 Thb per head – Snacks and coffee included
  • Bookings: Use the form below or contact CloudForce HR:

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