Leadership is often about the skill of knowing who to trust.
Some men who did not get to lead in their home office but do get to lead in China fall on this issue.
They can get resume focused and forget that their most critical need is hiring people they can trust. The same goes for cooperating with others outside the business. To see more on 3 Leadership Traits for Growth.
Further, the cues they use in the West to know who to trust do not work, and the cues are completely different here.
We must ensure that our hires are on our team first and not working for themselves first. It is very common for Chinese people to be able to manipulate their Western leaders and even act one way while the leader is in China and another when they have left. It is very subtle and often like you being a frog in a pot that is slowly boiled. Chinese business owners often just hire their relatives as this problem is so deep. They do not have skills but they know they will not steal the business. What about us Westerners?
Feeling comfortable and liking the Chinese manager is dangerous. Chinese people can be very nice and gracious to a Western boss. Underneath, it is not what you should get near at all. The right person may not make you comfortable, but they may tell you what you need to know at all times.
I have experience with Western companies burdened with a person that is viewed as invaluable, irreplaceable, or even dangerous to fire.
The situation goes on for 6 months up to 12 years in my experience. It’s shocking to me to see how much potential success is lost in these companies. Check more on China Bad Hire Costs – Let’s Show Caution.
Who Do We Trust is an Important Issue in China
If a manager does not tell you the whole story or you always have that feeling, then you need outside help to find out if you need an on site manager over them. Naturally, you may just need a new trustworthy manager like we place.
If you are afraid to push them, then you need help as well. See also Quality China Recruiting To Make You Successful.
If you are hearing voices that something may be wrong, then do not shoot the messenger but get help to find out what is true.
It is deep water. Face it, and a better day can emerge. The right managers do exist that you can trust and can carry your China business far.