Thai managers lag behind regional peers in leadership
Thai managers lag behind their peers in other countries in their capability to lead and supervise their staff effectively, says Pichpajee Saichuae, managing director of Tower Watson (Thailand), citing a survey conducted by his consultancy.The firm's 2012 Talent Manage-ment & Rewards study showed that Thailand trailed behind both developed and other fast-growing Asia-Pacific countries in all areas of "manager effectiveness" as categorised in the survey.
The four categories analysed were: capability of working with subordinates to set appropriate individual performance goals; giving employees regular coaching and feedback on their performance; differentiating between high and low performers; and fairly reflecting performance in pay decisions.
For example, only 38 per cent of participating firms in Thailand said their organisations had satisfied the first category, compared with 67 per cent of developed Asia-Pacific economies and 57 per cent of other fast-growing Asia-Pacific nations, the study showed.
"I could hardly sleep without addressing this issue," Pichpajee told The Nation on the sidelines of a seminar held by Towers Watson to unveil the survey results.
Pichpajee told the seminar that the shortfall in Thai managers' effectiveness had resulted in a high staff-turnover rate.
As reflected by the adage that "staff join because of the company but leave because of their bosses", staff relationships with their managers or supervisors are a top retention factor.
Dr Kongpob Watanasin, CIMB Thai Group's country head of human resources, told the seminar that talent retention was the most challenging issue for his bank, which recorded an annual staff-turnover rate of 20 per cent, one of the highest in the industry. He said this coincided with another, related challenge, "enhancing the capability of our people".
Because of the battle for talent in the Thai banking industry, base pay of CIMB Thai staff is currently higher than the rates in some other countries where the group operates, including at the parent firm in Malaysia.
Asked how to achieve productivity without staff feeling burned out, Kongpob said this was not an easy task because it depended largely on the ability of managers and supervisors in each organisation to communicate and engage effectively with their subordinates, encouraging them tirelessly to go the "extra mile" for the company.
"At CIMB, we think this issue is important because we drive [staff to achieve] targets quite aggressively.
"Some managers don't view this issue as important and simply drive their subordinates to achieve their sale targets. The first thing to do is to train managers on how to communicate the targets. They also need to be trained on the techniques of interviewing and recruiting the right people, and to understand how to build staff engagement," he said.
Nevertheless, the survey showed that the Thai staff-engagement rate was 80 per cent, far exceeding the global average rate of 14 per cent.