For those of us in 21st Century China, developing a deep bench of capable managers is going to make the difference between success and failure. You are expected to work hard to secure clients, suppliers, partners and investors – it is silly to think that you won’t have to lift a finger to attract good managers.
Replace the boss
Start the process by developing a succession plan – for yourself. Oh, don’t worry – we’re not planning for your retirement just yet. But the day may come when you decide to open another branch, expand to another city, or devote more of your time and energy to strategic planning. If you do, you’ll need a strategic decision-maker who can fill your shoes.
What traits are you looking for in a new you?
A good way to focus is to write a job description – for yourself. What are your 5 most important functions? Skills? Characteristics? Take a moment and give this some serious thought. Now look at your present team. Do you have anyone who can grow into this role in the foreseeable future? No? Didn’t think so.
Delegation and Discussion
You can teach people to be leaders – or at least give them structured opportunities to grow and develop. Are you still training new hires? Negotiating with suppliers? Supervising daily ops? Recruiting and interviewing? These are all perfect tasks for a program of structured delegation. Assign your up-and-coming senior managers to a specific task – put follow this procedure:
- Discuss the concept of delegation and management development.
- Discuss your goals for this particular situation. Ask for questions. They won’t ask you anything (yet) but it was worth a shot.
- Let them have at it.
- Debrief. Discuss the outcome and their performance. Be supportive and constructive.
The bottom line is that in China, if you wait for the perfect managerial candidate to walk in the door unannounced, you’ll be waiting a very, very long time. You have to build your own, and a structured, transparent system of delegation and debriefing is the only effective way of doing that.
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