Training Chinese Workers. How it Works

Training Chinese workersTraining Chinese workers is not easy. Actually, beneficial training is no simple question in any country.

China has some specific issues to beware of:

Training Chinese Workers is No Easy Task

China is Nationalistic.  Usually, it is not wise to say in your China organization that we will do it the American or any other country way.   Train to do it the best way and the proven way regardless of where it comes from.  Some sensitivity here will avoid some bad feeling in lower level workers.

Further, China is a very old civilization. Little changed for thousands of years. They are still talking about the 4 great inventions. Something about being a large country the size of China or the US means we are proud and can travel around this great country and everyone thinks like them, so they think it is universal.

People in Luxembourg never think this way. Americans do and so do Chinese. It makes both countries too proud and full of themselves. Americans believe they are great, and you cannot dissuade us. Chinese believe they have a great culture and others should change.  Chinese people all also know stories of things that do not work in the West but work in China because China is smarter. Also they know stories of things that worked in the West but not in China.

On the other hand, Chinese also know Western Products are more trustworthy and safe.  So some openness exists. Not a lot of daylight though.

Can Chinese Workers Accept Training?

Given all this, you need a very good trainer if you want to formally train.  I have rarely heard stories of successful company change via training given in China. Worldwide it is also difficult.

Note this quote on the learning organization from Wikipedia.

 There is a competitive advantage for an organization whose workforce can learn more quickly than the workforce of other organizations.[8] Individual learning is acquired through staff training, development and continuous self-improvement;[9] however, learning cannot be forced upon an individual who is not receptive to learning.[6] Research shows that most learning in the workplace is incidental, rather than the product of formal training,[3]

You Can Train Chinese Workers Successfully

Two key points in this I want to note:

First, You cannot succeed in training people who do not want to be trained. You need excellent change management thinking to have training that creates real change.  Assuming you have that beat, you need to consistently hire teachable workers who want to learn what you want to give them. Given the above issues, that is not always easy.  Our knowledge that they exist, gave us passion to find how to identify them.

Second, research and our own experience shows that we all learn more through incidental training. People learn in unplanned moments where it connects with what they are doing or interested in.  Think of times you have learned at work.   Some people soak up such incidental opportunities. I call them teachable people. I already knew in the 90’s here in China that Chinese workers lacked initiative and teachability.  That has not changed a lot.  We recruit very specifically for these. Transparency is also lacking (China is an opaque culture) so that means teachable moments are reduced as the hard truth is often not said. We also check closely for transparency.   Without openly knowing the facts, you can make few good decisions.   Also, little learning can occur. as the truth is not dealt with.  Yes, training Chinese workers involves many aspects.

So if you get the raw material of transparency and teachability in who you hire, you have a chance.  If you have hired leaders of ability who understand how to get people to want to follow. Then your learning culture can develop better, and it can be a competitive advantage.  Glad to support you with raw material in teachable leaders of talent.


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Posted in: China Recruitment - Getting Good People

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