Westerners Managing Junior Chinese Staff

Rich at All Roads Lead to China noted an article called Truth Without Tears by Frank Gallo.  Both articles have good insight and are worth a read.  I especially liked what Rich said.

They talk about a senior Expat correcting a junior Chinese person and how this devastated the Chinese person.

I side with Rich in his saying that the Expat needs to definitely engage the junior staff.  Frank probably understood that some Expats should not engage Chinese people at all when he said a middle man could be helpful.

They both had some good ideas all around.   I will add that the book Crucial Conversations outlines how we need to create safety when we have any conflict.   We need to say what we do not mean to make sure the wrong idea is not taken in. That would have made the first correction of the junior worker work the first time.  No China skills were needed, but better people skills were. 

In the West with Westerners you might get away with not following the best guidelines on how to have such a conflict. Cross culturally, you will get burned more.

Let me give three points:

1.  In China, cross culturally, you do not need to know China better, but you  need to be a better leader. Cross cultural leadership means a raising of the bar on what you need to bring to the table.  Better people skills  like I mentioned above would have avoided the bad conflict in Truth Without Tears.

2. A note on China is that constant criticism in many Chinese homes means that staff can assume serious criticism when little was meant. I find this especially true of female staff.

3. Being skillful in raising problems is good, but really caring for workers will cover most misteps. I have found that I can strongly and even insensitively correct Chinese people if they know I really care for them.  Real care trumps skills.

 Any comments?  Want to raise a discussion at China Business Leadership Group at LinkedIn?

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Posted in: Being the Right Person, China, Chinese Culture, Leadership, Motivating Workers

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