I know that my titles confuse some. You may be thinking about Chinese culture foremost. I am thinking of how we need to work on our China company culture harder or differently because of the outside environment here. I also am not writing to say the Chinese culture is somehow worse. Your workers here can often do better than the ones in the West because of what they can bring to the table. Also, what I am saying would be valuable in the West as well though not directed there.
My Culture I post was about a GM who let his company culture get out of hand because he trusted a manager who was not trustable. That happens a lot in China. People coming from Bloomington or Frankfurt never imagine that people they hire may have different top values than the people in their home culture. Or they see no way to avoid having leaders that violate their core values. They passively accept and even ignore.
Let’s Find Another Way – We Can Build a Good Culture
There is another way. You get what you focus on in hiring. If you focus on technology, you get technology, but you should not assume that you also get transparency which you will need.
Long ago, I had just started as operations manager for a U.S. holding company with several holdings in China. The owner was out to hire a Human Resources (HR) assistant for HQ in Shanghai and had found one who had HR credentials from Canada. This was a nice find in the resume world at that time.
The owner and others put me under pressure to hire her outright. I met with her and found immediately that she was more crafty than would fit our culture. I could feel the importance of the decision here.
Take Care of Your China Company Culture
Think carefully, the crafty one would push us toward a messy “me first” culture, but she had won over the owner.
He would not accept a mistake by me over his objection easily. I did a quick search and found a 23 year old with no direct HR experience and hired her over the owner’s concerns. Fortunately, within a couple weeks, he knew I was right. This young woman had passion for HR and crystal clear character. Her inexperience never held us back. She worked hard and effectively for the company first every day.
Her attitude and behavior influenced others. I loaded in more people like her. From then on, I made all hiring decisions, but I still remember the nervous days after hiring that 23 year old. (I do not recommend you do this in your business. The example should be taken with some wisdom)
It Begins With Hiring
Let me use an example to help us think more. If you need an operations manager, you may need a person with experience in that technology. You may need someone who has been an ops manager. Understandable. What I see leaders forget to do in China again and again is consider if this person has the character they need. Or they forget to find out if the resume is real. What % of resumes do you think have material falsehood among experienced ops managers? We see these people as critical to the culture. We check closely and find that the most resumes from Chinese operations managers have material falsehood. It is hard to find anything else actually. See Also Chinese People are All Trained Politicians.
Transparency is Valuable and Indicative of More
Would that be true in your home culture? We ultimately propose that companies hire the ops managers who can admit that they lied and can make it right. SHI Group found that the ops managers who can admit their issues prove to be the ops managers of character that companies never let go. We have found that they are often the game changers that every company really wants to have. The ops manager, who will not admit that they lied, are the guys who will make a mess of your culture. They are usually about proving themselves and in ways that are beyond ethical bounds.
We must get someone who will work to make the company succeed and not just themselves. It is possible and you must get there for all leaders and all HR people and all finance people and well, everyone. You owe it to those that will work with them in your company, and you owe it to yourself. You need to sleep at night and not wonder what your smart non-transparent employee is doing.