This is a recent post on the China Solved Weblog which explains that finding managers and employees may be difficult, but an even more difficult task will trying to keep them working efficiently through the years.
A big issue for China-based management issue is the challenge of helping get Chinese managers and workers to “own their job”, or take personal responsibility and a proactive approach to managing tasks. This is one of the critical aspects of the “localization” trend in China, and one which causes ex-pat managers and owners a great deal of grief and frustration.
The problem is that Chinese workers and managers are better at executing tasks and following instructions than they are at formulating solutions and reacting to new situations. For multi-nationals and international SMEs operating in China, this can be a real obstacle to growth since it makes expansion much more difficult. Micro-managing a staff of 10 from one office in Shanghai may be possible, but it simply isn’t scalable. It becomes increasingly ineffective as the organization grows – and that is precisely the situation many China-based managers are finding themselves in now.
International managers are trained to compete by taking on more and more responsibility. We are power-grabbers. Young, ambitious western managers stay up nights thinking up new ways to expand their authority and power. Chinese managers, on the other hand, try to demonstrate their ability by being steady, reliable – and by not overstepping what they believe to be the limits of their authority.
The problem for overseas managers based in China is that good execution doesn’t really help you expand your business. You need that next crop of managers who are waiting to step up and assume more responsibility. In other words, you need for managers to “take ownership” of their jobs and grow into new responsibilities later on. As more and more multi nationals companies add branches and new locations, the pressure on senior managers to develop new leaders is growing.
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