As we approach the calendar New Year and then Tet, my mind is turning towards how things will be different next year. I start to think about the mistakes I’ve made and what I could have done better. It would be highly arrogant to say that I didn’t make any mistakes – we all do, some worse than others. I certainly won’t claim that.  We’ve had more than our share of business issues and disappointments – and some readers might join me in that sentiment.

I’ve always thought it important to be visible to my colleagues as I think that leading by example is likely to bring out the best in others. Absent managers often find out that things aren’t quite as well back at the farm as the staff is saying.  A foreign businessman recently said to me, ‘Oh, the company runs itself when I’m not there’. Well, I suppose so, if you think that 40 per cent staff turnover is normal; I don’t.  Perhaps a little more TLC wouldn’t hurt – and it might help to reduce their costs.  If you think that recruitment is expensive (not only because of our fees), then perhaps take a look at your staff turnover figures and ask yourself why so many people are leaving. That particular company is refreshing itself every two years or so. imagine the effect that has on their clients, the staff who remain, and their morale. it’s made all the harder by the fact that the company knows it is paying below market rates.No wonder nearly half of the staff finds greener pastures each year.  They could use some New Year, New Thinking.

Recruitment is another area that some companies could benefit from re-thinking their approach.  Sometimes we are asked to meet companies that are well known in our recruitment community as being terrible places to work.  They might want to talk about assignments that they have tried to recruit internally – and failed – then given to multiple recruitment agencies – and failed.  Now they are desperate and somehow still think there is still a chance to hire someone for that hopeless position, in a zombie company that no-one wants to work for.  We don’t entertain that.  What’s the point, just wasting time talking about something that is patently unachievable?  Another opportunity for New Year New Thinking.

From our point of view, we are going into this year in a very positive frame of mind.  We hope that our difficulties are behind us; our reputation is intact and – by and large – our longest serving (suffering?) colleagues are still happy to work together.  It could be a lot worse; we’ve seen quite a few international executive search companies close their doors and exit the business.  Somehow we are hanging on; we’ve made a commitment in the region to the individual countries and we are sticking with it.  We don’t give up easily and, to close this month’s column, there’s a fitting metaphor for our search methodology.

Good luck to to everyone in the New Year.

Gary Woollacott is an executive search consultant who works for Horton International in Vietnam, Thailand and Laos.  He can be reached at +84 8 3910 7682 or via woollacott@hortoninternational.com