Confucianism, Daoism and Hiring Someone in China

hiring someone in China

Confucianism, Daoism and hiring in China are not usually topics to put together.  However, knowing the cultural backdrop for hiring someone in China is certainly valuable. Let’s look together and consider.

The other Confucianist, Daoist countries after China are Taiwan, Hong Kong, Korea, Japan, Singapore, and Vietnam. They all have their own flavor, but note that all these countries are growing. There is strength in these philosophies. However, one does not have to be a Daoist to be influenced by these. They are deep within the culture even for people who do not explicitly follow these philosophies.

The Jewels of Daoism are:

  • Compassion – awareness of another person’s pain and wanting to relieve it.
  • Moderation – avoid extremes. The Yin and Yang symbolize this.
  • Humility – be modest and do not brag (note this is different than true humility).

They also emphasize good diet practices and exercise for better long term health. Harmony with the natural order of things is emphasized as well. Finding and following the natural order is an emphasis. They are rather anti rules.

All these countries have these marks in one way of another. These are good things with some reservations.

Confucianism Has 5 Cardinal Values for Perfect Humanity

  • Ren (仁) – Benevolence in terms of sympathy for others.
  • Yi (义) – Duty reflected in the shame felt after doing something wrong.  China is a shame based country while the West is more sin based.
  • Li (礼) – Manners and proper behavior. Saying and doing the right thing at the right and proper time with the proper people.
  • Zhi (智) – Wisdom in knowing right from wrong.
  • Xin (信) – Loyalty to family and country and faith in them. Confucius also believed in a creator God (天) that we should live honorably for and who cares for right behavior.

Shu (恕) is another issue – It emphasizes considering how your actions will impact others.

Wen (文) is the final one today – This is about having high culture. This is shown in very proper and polite speech and in having high educational achievement.

Confucius also famously taught order as preeminent and people should obey rulers and other authorities, and families should obey fathers and children obey parents. Order was a hot topic for Confucius living in the chaotic Warring States Period. For the same reason, he also emphasized harmony.  So you hear the government talking a lot about harmony with both these philosophies pushing this.

How Does this Impact China’s Culture?

With these nice values it is no wonder these countries can all grow, and their achievements in the West and where they immigrate are impressive.

That all the bigger States on the list are also anti-immigration and have hermit tendencies is also part of this backdrop. Chinese people with these high values looked down on other cultures and saw they had little to learn from them. These countries are less open for sure. It is hard for them to accept that the West has something to offer them and the most hard for China where these values have their home.

Like Mohamed, Confucius was just a man, so his guidance is measurable and outward. hiring in China

One should act humbly, but the issue of being humble is not as well developed. Daoism and Confucianism both have this.

One should do the right thing and work hard at it. It is not about having the right heart for the thing at hand. Heart agreement is not emphasized in any way.

How Does This Affect Business in China?

So Chinese people are experts at knowing the right thing to say at the right time. See this: Beware the Dog and Pony Show. Chinese leaders of factories are great at putting on the show for you when you visit for example.

When you interview or lead them, they are great at knowing the right thing to say and how that will impact you. They can get your gut feeling and lead you along without you knowing it.

Chinese people are more influenced by their friends and relatives. They are less fiercely independent. This is good and bad. We need to watch out for people whose loyalties would cause them to harm our business by throwing business or secrets to a relative. See also Recruitment Agency China Needs Great Thinking

How about Some Examples

First, let me tell you a story of when I first came to China in 1991 and worked at a University here. When you road your bike through the gate, you were supposed to dismount for at least a second though while possibly still moving. a trainer said that China is worried about the guy who does not touch his foot to the ground. I can touch my foot to the ground and go inside and lie cheat and steal and not be seen as deviant. Contrarily, I was taught that if you are kind and honest in all your dealings the school, but fail to touch your foot to the ground, then you are a trouble maker. Fitting the form is the key.

Second, think how ISO certification is run in China for example. The paperwork is commonly faked for the whole system which is a lot of work for the quality department, and the guy who checks knows this. Do excellent quality control with some missing paperwork, and you are in trouble. Having doubtful quality work and perfect paperwork is praised.  Finally, if a company fails in some small point, they take the guy out to dinner, and he lists then as passed. Harmony is achieved. The system has the right checks, and all is well except the quality commitment and system in the business.

Actually, there are a host of issues in the heart of your workers related to these philosophies. They are impacting them even though they do not know it. See also  Chinese and English Speaking Countries – A Very Different Base

So How is Hiring Someone in China Impacted?

So, in hiring someone in China, it is deep water. Everyone knows what the resume should say to fit the expectations. They know or guess what the interviewer wants to hear, and tell stories to match that form. They will say Yes when they should say Yes to fit the form.  The best at this often get the job offer.

These candidates will also work that way in your business. So, we interview to set up the background check, and then go deep to find out who is real, and who just fits the form.  28% have cracked out of the form to be true, and these candidates are gems.

To conclude, China is deep water but a place you can succeed.  If you are planning on hiring someone in China, welcome to find us on the contact page. Then your business will not have to be so complicated.

See also Ideal China Recruitment: Perfect Hires and Perfect Companies?



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Posted in: China Recruitment - Getting Good People, Chinese Culture

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