By Grace Zhao, China Unbound
There I was, sweaty palms, and sat across from me was the hiring manager of a well-known Chinese company just setting up their presence in the UK.
Keen to impress, I wanted to show my desire to learn and progress in the organisation. I leaned forward and asked, “What is the company’s view on training, and do you have any training programs for employees?”
The reaction was a stern face, not quite the effect I was hoping for. “Our company has a strong entrepreneurial culture and we believe in learning on the job. Employees should be driven to find solutions to problems they don’t know answers to,” replied the hiring manager, not impressed.
Well, you can probably guess if I landed the job.
But here’s the problem I realised, I didn’t get the job not because I haven’t got the right skill set (well, not necessarily), but having been educated in the West since high school, I also got caught in a cultural HR gap between the East and the West – Chinese and Western companies have quite different expectations and attitudes towards staff, hence the staff selection and retention strategies are also very different.
Chinese people like working hard, relationships in the workplace are more hierarchical, and we are taught to respect, rather than challenge authority from a young age.
While this mentality has many positives (for one, Chinese kids tend to more respectful to their teachers), it creates issues for global Chinese companies that are hiring Western or overseas Chinese staff like myself, and for British companies hiring Chinese staff both in the UK and in China.
The different values and expectations between candidates and companies means companies can spend more time and money to attract, and more importantly, to retain the right people, and candidates are potentially missing out on the right job, or end up being disappointed in a job as they have different expectations of the organisation’s culture and what it may offer.
As more Chinese companies are globalising and have a presence in the UK and more UK companies are entering the Chinese market, we need a better understanding of this ‘HR gap’ to help professionals and students with China-related skills to find suitable and fulfilling work, and help companies attract and retain staff with China related skills more effectively.
China Unbound is hosting a talk on 1 April to help you to understand how UK and Chinese companies recruit and retain staff differently, and practical tips to help job seekers to maximise their chance of finding their perfect China-related job.
For more details and RSVP – Click Here