Growing firms in Cambodia will definitely consider this question. The challenges and frustrations that business leaders and HR departments are facing concerning team development to find, recruit, onboard, develop, and then retain good talent is sometimes enough to make even the toughest business leaders and HR professionals a bit squeamish. When there are only approximately 10-20% of the country’s workforce that has even completed high school, and under 10% that have a college education, many firms are struggling to even find applicants that are literate and numerate, let alone college educated. It is no wonder why many firms turn to hiring foreigners, essentially importing labor, for skilled positions that require specific expertise. This is why you currently see many Chinese and Japanese workers on Cambodian construction sites because the pool of skilled laborers from the local Cambodian job market are just plainly… too few.

However, in the case of businesses that do not require highly technical skill sets, but just need high performing staff, should they look at hiring super-star performers (international or not) that come at a premium, or should they develop their talent from within? This pivotal question should be looked at through the lens of conducting a company needs assessment. Whether internally led, or through external help, take the time to see what growth trajectory your company is heading in, what objectives you are trying to reach. Doing a “skills audit” of your current team, you can then see whether or not you have the long-term growth capabilities your firm needs, or if you need to start scouting for new talent. Is your current HR strategy going to be able to support your overarching business objectives? The tricky part is when business leaders and HR departments need to mitigate the costs involved with bringing in top talent or choosing to spend ample amounts of investment dollars on addressing the skills gaps in the current team through training.

This challenge for team development is equally amplified when a firm is facing high turnover rates. If a company would like to invest more in training and developing its staff, they run the risk of having them leave the firm and go directly to a competitor (this is happening all too often in Cambodia). Some industries like retail, insurance, and banking are really being hurt hard by this, and are discouraged to invest in their team’s development out of fear they may leave. However, the other side is that if firms do offer a robust staff development or “Management Training” track for their staff, then they typically experience higher employee satisfaction and retention because the staff can see that there is a pathway and a future for them to grow with the firm.

The answer to the question “should I hire top-performers or develop leaders from within” may be a mixture of both for your firm. Paying more to hire high-performing, highly productive staff will actually cut the needed number of staff in the firm because you are getting more done with less. For example, you may be able to get the same amount of work done with 10 high-performing staff earning $1000 a month than you could with 20 under-performing staff earning $600 a month. However, if the current team you have has the capacity and the right attitude to learn the skills they need to become high-performers, it may save your firm more in the long run to train and develop those skills gaps.

Reach out to us if you are facing similar challenges. We would always love to hear from you and explore opportunities and solutions together that can transform your team into a high performance team. To do so, please give a call to our friendly staff at 023 990 023, or send us an email at info.clpd@aupp.edu.kh. You can also check our outlines for team development here. See you in class!