How Does Chinese Urbanization Affect Your China Hiring Quality?

Knowing what this picture means to your Chinese workforce is more valuable than we think or even than your workers think

Knowing what this picture means to your Chinese workforce is more valuable than we think or even than your workers think

Is Your China Hiring Quality impacted by recent and on going Chinese Urbanization?  I was talking with a group of Chinese professionals today and 5 of 6 had grown up in the countryside. How many of your hires in the West grew up with chickens pecking about? Or grew up with parents who lived at the mercy of the weather for their livelihood? Or with parents who could hardly read at all?  You might want to read about this background in Wikipedia here. Urbanization in China here. and  Urbanization in the US here.

5 out of 6 Chinese professional people are probably that way in your company. My grandmother was born in the US in 1903 and had vague memories of a cow her family had.  Her parents spoke English with a heavy accent.

My mother never saw a cow as a child except at the State Fair and knew no Swedish at all.

So How Does Rapid Chinese Urbanization of China Relate to Your China Hiring Quality?

Chinese peasant families are not like American farmers.  People here were mostly raised by very narrow thinking rural peasants.  More narrow than my grandmother. In China government officials would oppress peasants at all turns. Peasant families cheat the officials by all means.  Peasants learn to not stick out. They teach their kids to not stick out. Fear of failure is high. They just focus on their own family success without regard to those outside their tight circle.

Pre-Chinese Urbanization

Peasants have lived much the same way for 5000 years of Chinese history. None of them had ever read a book on child raising or hardly any books at all. Peasants raise children to deeply rely on them as peasants need children to remember and care for them when old.  Peasants generally raise children to listen and not be heard.  Urbanized worker parents feel low self esteem from their peasant background.

Peasants were raised in a culture with few modern boundaries. They walked in on their neighbors at all times of the day unannounced and sat down. Knocking was unusual. All of them knew all about their neighbors.  They were interdependent on other families by absolute need. They lived in and needed relationship.  All of them stole things of value regularly as children. It was a world very far from where we come from or how we think.

The Impacts on China Hiring Quality Are Real

So your workforce will rarely take initiative.  Narrow thinking will make it hard for them to understand you. Diligence to serve their felt needs will be clear. Relationship thinking will be with them. You will never be in that circle as revile many of its rules and behaviors.   Cheating their authority is part of their background. Having an uneducated parent or nanny watching and impacting their kid even now is the standard.

However, you are not doomed.  The people I hire, and that we find for our clients are mostly from peasant backgrounds.  However,  they will be people who have turned the corner and come to understand a bigger world and how to work in it. It is brand new to them and to their 5000 years of history. They can get no useful counsel from their parents.  They could be more open to learn from you and not just about business processes. However, the number who can deeply turn the corner is still quite limited. It does not list on their resume.  So those people are available, but it takes quite a search to dig them up.


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

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