Staffing used to be a difficult but relatively simple problem in China – fill seats with the highest quality people available. Standards were uniformly low, and performance ratings were more about attitude and language ability than accomplishments or transactions. ‘In the kingdom of the blind…’, and all that.
As the new year unfolds, your China HR challenges are far more complex. Shanghai and other Chinese cities are simply too expensive – and too important – to continue slotting bodies into chairs and hoping for the best.
- Team dynamics.You have 6 sales people with and average of 3 years experience, and a monthly pay of 7,000 each. If you’re new hire is a high-potential grad with no experience and a price-tag of 9,000/month, you are going to SERIOUSLY alienate your existing salespeople. Come June, instead of having a 7 person team, you are down to 4 as your experienced people jump ship and go to the competition.
- Less can be more. A small, well trained team can bring in and keep much more business than a mob of untrained, poorly organized new grads. But that may mean changing your approach to training, management and compensation. You also have to decide if your organization can transition smoothly to a new leaner approach – or if you will have to go through a potentially jarring restructuring process.
- Arithmetic vs. Exponential growth. When does 4 = 7? When you hire 4 inexperienced salesmen, and then have to find a new sales supervisor, an assistant and a customer service rep to make the new hires effective. This is a particularly significant problem in China, where big, bureaucratic staffs are the norm.
- Train and manage more closely for better performance. Develop existing staffers into managers who can coach incoming people. Develop your systems BEFORE you start hiring, and go back to the basics of HR with better job descriptions, training plans and development resources. Develop in-house train-the-trainer and new-hire orientation programs to make sure that. Unless you have an effective feedback and performance review system, it simply won’t work – so start there!
- Management structures change over time.Don’t make another hiring decision before plotting a new org chart. Who will train and supervise the new hires? How many people are your existing supervisors already managing? If your most experienced salesman is responsible for training and managing more than 3 junior salespeople, then he’s going to have to choice between sales activities and management activities. Have you coached him on your priorities, or are you expecting him to do it all at 110% efficiency? What will you do when HE jumps ship?
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