Recruiting for Small Businesses

Recruiting for Small Businesses

Here at Top Recruitment Cambodia we continually stress how being faithful to your process is the key to recruiting and hiring the right people. However, if you are in the middle of setting up a new business or you are handing a rapidly expanding business you are probably thinking ‘I am way too busy for this’.

Small business owners generally focus on product/service and clients first, after this accounts/finance is usually their next priority and internal processes (like recruitment) are a much lower priority. One of the reasons small businesses have so many problems recruiting employees is because of this low prioritization. We would suggest that you might have the greatest product or service in the world, and the most willing clients, but if you don’t have the right people then your business is always going to struggle.

The essential issue faced by small business owners is that they have to balance trust and competence. This issue causes a lot of new businesses to follow one of a couple of models rather than take a systematic approach to recruiting.

Because you will probably have to share commercially sensitive information with your first employees the trust issue is usually the one which wins and you hire from your personal network – close friends and family. The problem with this is that the people you trust are often not the most competent – not the best combination of skills and experience – to do the job. Your problems will only get worse as your team expands because with only barely competent people in key positions you will always have a problem hiring better employees. Friends and family (people hired because you trust them) are also very hard to remove from your company without causing personal problems because you hired them for personal rather than professional reasons.

The second model is to hire a small group of very junior employees, perhaps fresh graduates with little or no experience. Your plan is to grow them into a great team who will eventually become strong, loyal employees. Your plan is to manage them closely (actually micro-manage them) and share little commercially sensitive information with them. While hiring young employees with potential and developing them into great employees is a great idea the basic problem is that your focus on building the business and keeping the clients happy usually means that you don’t have enough time available to effectively train and develop your staff. They are given routine or mundane tasks and increasingly feel that you are not making good the promises you made when you hired them. Eventually they will leave for another employer where they hope their career aspirations will be met and you will be trapped in a never-ending loop of hiring and losing non-performing junior employees. You will still be making all the decisions and basically doing all the work and your company will be struggling to grow.

In both of these examples the focus on trust over competence has had impact on your brand as an employer – and you probably hadn’t even thought that you had been growing one. The brand of the first company is as a ‘family company’ where close personal relationships are more important than skills and ability. The brand of the second model is a company with high employee turnover and a boss who is overworked with no time for the staff.

To avoid getting trapped in either of these situations you should, as far as possible follow a systematic process, just adjust it to fit your limited resources of time and energy. Of course, if you have the budget you should outsource the process to a recruitment agency – they have all the resources you lack to do this and will only bill you on success. Very few start-ups put recruitment into their budget so they tend to do it themselves however, using in Cambodia using a good agency you only need to add 12-15% to your budget for any given position, not 20-25% like in most of the world.

If you are going to carry out the process yourself then here are some pieces of advice you can use:

  • Work hard to develop the processes and procedures that you find in a standard company
  • Always hire as a way to build for the future, not to solve a problem today
  • Avoid relationship-hiring because it is very hard to undo
  • Demand flexibility but only as far as is reasonable
  • Build your employer-brand fast, when you are going from small to medium sized you are going to need it
  • Focus on performance management and empowerment as the foundation you will build your business on
  • Be aware that as a small business you have the advantage of fast decision-making – so use that advantage
  • Use the offer of growth with the company to attract people who want to grow

However, if you are going down the path of using a recruitment agency then you should choose the best one available, one with experience working with rapidly expanding businesses. You should choose an agency that values relationships and also works with one eye on tomorrow, just like you!

Contact us today to find out more about how we can help you grow your business.


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