Bad Chinese Management-Does It Have To Be This Way?

Bad Chinese management makes many Chinese workers unhappy

How many Chinese workers are under good management?

Chinese are not bad managers, but Westerners are bad at knowing which Chinese to hire and empower which leads to Bad Chinese Management.

The Diplomat  has an article that I just ran across on why Chinese are bad managers. It is worth reading.  I have something to add.

I have written before about China and The Art of War as a text for business management as this writer did. Seems more of us are seeing the light. My post is: Is Using the Art of War for Doing Business in China a Good Concept?

The Diplomat writer is Chinese and notes how Chinese managers purposely foment infighting. Ah yes. She further notes how Chinese culture is good at making hard working students, but bad at making excellent managers. That is so true. Let me paste a little here.

To maintain absolute control, they will practice divide-and-conquer by constantly changing favourites, spreading innuendoes and rumours and lies, and acting arbitrarily and violently to induce terror. They won’t compose memos or read financial statements, but they’ll probably have watched ‘The Godfather’ dozens of times, and have memorized The Art of War. China’s management problem isn’t that there aren’t enough alpha males—it’s that there are too many.

My Chinese GM worked with me for a couple years and learned some good things about honesty and leadership.  Then he found himself slipping back into his old bad habits with his old friends. It surprised him.  Now he is permanently in the right space, but he was amazed at how hard it was to get there.

So companies that completely indigenize their work force often find that the culture they created gradually disappears, and a worse one comes to rule.

Bad Chinese Management Does NOT Have to Be The Rule

Now, I think maintaining diversity in the ethnicity of your China enterprise is worth the investment.  However,  having a Chinese manager does not mean you have to have bad Chinese management.  The key is having the discernment and knowledge of which Chinese you can be trust and which to not to.

Many Western companies are satisfied with their China team. Often they have no idea of the trouble under the surface until their China venture gets complicated in ways they do not understand.

Western companies waste a lot of energy because of hiring bad Chinese management. Infighting drains the energy away from productive work.  Turn over, increased lead times, and higher costs are often the fruits of this path.

One by one our customers are learning the value of our noting the character of their Chinese candidates.  They also need to learn the leadership needs for their Western Manager candidates for China.  We help our customers get and hire the best of both. See more on Hiring A-Players or A-Manipulators?

We think it is sad when we see people who think bad Chinese management is unavoidable or thinking all Westerners are better managers. Neither are true. So we disagree with the base conclusion  from The Diplomat writer, but definitely see she has insight into her own culture. Do not settle for OK or worse yet messy management in China.

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

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