Kicking the Can and Finessing in China

finessing in China

An open letter on a common issue

I recently wrote an email in response to a comment by a customer contact saying they were not going to replace their devious and secretive China leader, but place a Quality Manager instead. Finessing in China is so common that I produce my response generically here.

Hi Frank,

Thanks for your quick response.

I am puzzled.

Do you mean your company wants to delay letting go of this devious China Leader for some reason?

Might this be an effort to place someone who will report back directly to HQ separate from your present China leader?

I am guessing but ask these questions as I have deep experience with US company decision making in matters relating to China.

I have seen a few general behaviors.

1. US companies do not have a good methodology for making decisions of this nature, so they end up kicking the can down the road. Fear overcomes systems.

2. Instead of solving the problem, they have new people report in different reporting structures trying finessing in China to solve the problem.

Both these ways of engaging are highly problematic. Problems do not get better naturally or with good meetings with the problem people before you get on the plane to go back to Headquarters.  The devious Leader just gets more  training in bad ways.  He or she gets harder to detect and more damaging. Time has never been an ally of any of my customers. Few US companies operate with alacrity to handle problems before they get yet bigger.

Reporting back in multiple streams to the US in separate or even to the same manager is problematic.

The Chinese winner in such matches is often the person who is most devious.  Devious leaders destroy the more pure person by making him or her look bad. Deviousness is rewarded commonly though no one in power in the US knows what happened.  The US leaders only know that the Chinese do not get along very well, but it is the reporting structure and bad placements that are to blame. Managing Chinese people from overseas is problematic and beyond the reach of US companies when any power player in their China operation is devious in any way.

I hope to save you from potential further sorrow.

I can connect you with ZZZ company as they are a client of ours with a similar situation. Interested?

A list of many of the customers we have served is found here:  Our China Recruiting Agency Clients.   You may also enjoy the brief video there explaining a company transformation you may find interesting.

Given how busy you and your team are, if we started a search in mid June, you would likely see the person start in mid September. We can move faster, but you have a day job.   It usually ends up with an offer after 60 days, and the person gives 30 days notice.

Best Regards,


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Posted in: China, China Recruitment - Getting Good People, Decision Making, Team Development

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