ChinaSolved’s Least Wanted List: Make sure you are not committing these 10 Deadly Sins of Chinese Management
Last week we posted the first half of the ChinaSolved’s Least Wanted China management blunders Now we finish up the list of management behaviors you need to eliminate.
6. Coasting on past successes or good starts. There is no auto-pilot switch in China. The more successful you are, the more problems you’ll have. It never gets easy. This is particularly true of relationships with Chinese partners, key hires and suppliers. If you only pay attention to a Chinese partner or associate when you have a problem or a new set of requirements, then your relationships will wither and die.
7. Searching for common ground. Go into China with a plan to building bridges – not discovering common ground. Shanghai, Shenzhen and other business cities in China have become ultra-modern centers of international business, and it’s easy to fool yourself into thinking that traditional Chinese business customs are fading into memory. That may in fact be true – while you are spending, hiring and planning your investment. But once the assets are transferred and you feel it’s time for the locals to start performing, then China becomes a very traditional place.
8. Playing by US HR rules. HR is the key function in China, and you have to steer clear of two common Western blunders. Some managers try to run their China office just like it was in the US – with the same expectations, attitudes and benefit structures. Others go the opposite way, and end up outsourcing the entire HR function to local staff – inadvertently cutting themselves off from one of the most important managerial tasks in China.
9. Blind trust. Knowledge is a superpower in China – blind trust is kryptonite. I’ve known plenty of western managers who complained of being betrayed and undermined by their closest advisors — but have also spoken to Chinese who felt that their “so called bosses” were stealing all of their ideas. You are the one with ultimate responsibility for your own success or failure in China, so you have to develop your own ideas and plans.
10. It’s only guanxi until you get caught. Countless western bosses have paid a high price for taking shortcuts and compromising on best practices. This usually includes paying bribes, cutting corners on compliance, engaging in informal partnership arrangements and neglecting to do even the most basic of due diligence. I’d like to be able to say that these were usually green young grads who didn’t know any better — but I’m talking about senior MNC managers with decades of experience. Chinese customs will never help you, but if you get them wrong they can hurt. A lot.
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