LinkedIn is a great company that I highly respect, but I would never counsel anyone to follow their best China business advice on hiring in China which you can see here. Digging deeper in recruiting is necessary. Here is one quote that appears wise but has gotten many companies in deep water.
The best chance at success is finding an executive who has experience with both cultures, perhaps someone who is originally from China or has a Chinese heritage, but educated in the West. Or a Western executive with many years of experience working in China, steeped in Chinese culture.
It sounds so good, but is so unwise. I know many Western Executives with long experience in China that you should never hire. Many are chameleons who learned bad tricks in China. Others just melted in and get lost like in this example. I know Returnees who are some of the worst managers you will ever find. Note my example of a returnee who was well liked in his US factory and so sent here. Among both these groups you will also find a number of people who will lie cheat and steal to get things done.
On the other hand, I have met Chinese people with no experience outside China at all who are great leaders and great at work with Western Management abroad. I have seen Western Leaders with no China experience who are fabulously successful in China from day 1.
So the LinkedIn advice is nonsense. When you come to China, you need to find leaders with high levels of personal maturity and leadership ability be they Western or Chinese. You need to find people who will tell the truth at all times be they Western or Chinese. You need people who can adapt to working in China and reporting in the West. That may or may not be connected to their degree of work experience outside their home countries. We find you need to dig deep to know them and then dig deep for real data after. Yes, we can find the right hire.
Digging Deeper in Recruiting is Needed
Then LinkedIn went on to say this.
Don’t expect your team to resemble its Western counterpart.
Professional decorum and business practices in China are completely different from Western practices. For example, the Chinese are taught from an early age to respect authority, and to that end they are never comfortable giving direct criticism or feedback, because it makes someone lose face, which is considered disrespectful. “It’s just not allowed,” says Coates.
So any business practice that requires executives to sit down together in a room and give honest feedback to one another may not be as effective in China. “It’s just more challenging to practice those types of Western communication styles in China,” says Coates. Your management has to understand these fundamental cultural differences…
China Business Advice From So Called Experts Unmasked
First, there are lots of Chinese children who talk back to their parents and even fight with them regularly. What do they mean that it is not allowed? Second, the right hires with the right environment can give excellent and insightful feedback to bosses. I get it often. I can say that the average Chinese person will not be as forthcoming as the average Westerner. However, I do not think you should hire that average person. China has excellent team members especially when properly led. Chinese are, however, very insightful on knowing who to talk to and who not to talk to. If they are not talking, then you may need to change your leadership and maybe some other people.
Worldwide the best companies have open communication up and down. This principle is equally valid and reachable in China. Do not stand for anything less. You do need high levels of leadership to do this in any country and absolutely in China. That is the main point. The successful leader and managment hire in China is not of any particular experience or ethnicity.(They do need a functuional area usually) They are people with impressive leadership ability. These people usually cross cultures very successfully. They have personal maturity that carries them. These are the people to bring in.