Managing Talent in China


    Manpower, which operates in China, recently published survey results in a white paper titled, "The China Talent Paradox," which provides a good rundown the issues you should be prepared to grapple with if you’re setting up operations there, accepting a position there, or planning to work with or invest in a company there.

    The problems surface in two ways: There’s a severe shortage of managers and executives in China, and differences between traditionally Western and Chinese ways of thinking can lead to dissatisfaction among both staff and management.

    An interesting aspect of the survey was a comparison of how job candidates answered questions vs. HR professionals. For example, whereas 65% of HR professionals agreed with the statement, "There are career development opportunities for me at my organization," only 30% of candidates agreed. And job opportunities are really, really important to Chinese candidates. In fact, that exceeded "better compensation/benefits package" in a list of items candidates said they wanted in a future employer.

    According to the survey, almost 75% of candidates said they’d prefer to work for a wholly-owned company over a joint venture. The reasons? "Instant social kudos,…better wages, training and working conditions."

    There are also unique perspectives on what makes for a good leader.

    In China, leaders require a distinct set of skills. They need to be strategic operators at a macro level, but also able to manage at a micro level. Chinese employees respond best to hands-on leadership and having a role model to demonstrate what is expected of them, so that they may replicate their actions. Generally speaking, direct reports expect specific directions and detailed explanations from their managers, not broad goals. Key skills for leaders are therefore coaching and communication; they need to establish protocols for providing feedback to employees and ensure strong internal communication.

    The importance of that role model role can’t be underestimated. The report says that it’s not unusual for a staff member to leave a company "because his or her values are not aligned with those of their employer."

    This one’s worthwhile to read because it’s full of little bits of advice that could come in handy if you’re trying to understand the Chinese employee mindset.


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