Tag Archives: Business Tianjin

Developing the Human Capital of Chinese Women – RMG CEO on Business Tianjin

It’s already more than half a century since Chairman Mao said “women should hold half of the sky”. However, recent research by the international accounting group Grant Thornton, which was based on over 6,000 interviews with business leaders between November 2011 and February 2012, found only a quarter of senior management positions in China (25%) are held by women. Meanwhile, Russia emerges as the country with the highest proportion of women in senior management positions at a much higher 46%. Based on RMG’s consulting cases, we have found that female leadership could increase the creativity and stability of the corporate organisationa. Another study, ‘The Bottom Line: Corporate Performance and Women’s Representation on Boards’ (Lois Joy and others, 2007), found that businesses with a greater proportion of women on their boards outperformed rivals in terms of returns on invested capital (66% higher), returns on equity (53% higher) and sales (42% higher). Therefore women in China may have a very large and unrecognised potential to make even greater contributions to the society’s tremendous economic achievement so far. Also of note is that women in China make up more than half of the University student population. In this regard, the female proportion of regular University places was 37% in 1997, 40.9% in 2000, 44% in 2003, 46% in 2005, 48% in 2007, 50.2% in 2009 and 50.8% in 2010. That means the number of female university graduates is increasing by a remarkable 1% per year. These reports and statistics show that the necessity and urgency to hire and develop female staff in your company can be inferred as being self-evident. In other words, if you don’t start developing the ‘She-Power’ now, you will face a more and more serious situation of talent shortage because other companies are hiring more women, i.e. here’s a resource: use it! It’s hard to find a Chinese woman, or a woman anywhere for that matter, who exhibits the Thatcherite demeanour of Britain’s ‘Iron Lady’. However, if you scratch beneath the surface you might find an iron hand in a velvet glove. Also, when we compare communications between Chinese men and women, we find men tend to lead the conversation in a strong way and women tend to listen and have more interactions. Chinese women are very good at staying focused on their goals with laser-like precision. In particular, the female’s performance will be resolute when they have to make tough decisions. The notable second aspect of having female managers is that they are great multi-taskers with high procedural ability to execute. Scientists say that women have an ability to think in a three-dimensional way and their brains can easily deal with many different tasks at the same time. On the other hand, it is said that, men have a ‘lateral’ way of thinking to deal with one problem at a time but with a greater degree of focus. There is another set of data from Grant Thornton’s report that may prove these characteristics even better: Of the executive management positions occupied by women in China, most are COO (Chief Operating Officer) or other types of organisational roles with 45% of the positions and the least occupied role (by women) is that of the CEO occupying only 9% of those surveyed. Most Chinese women are natural team workers with a high ‘EQ’ (Emotional Intelligence). As well as the inherent female genetic aspects of EQ, Chinese society and the local systems of family and education have encouraged this aspect of Chinese females because traditionally, girls in the family are trained to be the helper, supporter and backbone of the family unit. Therefore, they feel very comfortable when being involved deeply with other team members. In addition, the Chinese lady is known to be very humble and modest. Namely, they are taught to control their emotions very well in different situations as a woman. ‘Emotional Intelligence’ is the ability to identify, assess and control the emotions of oneself, of others, and of groups. Women in China are often educated more than men on this subject by their parents. Indeed it’s amazing that the above features of women match the modern business needs so well. In fact, not enough effort is placed on promoting and developing the unique contribution women have to make in the modern Chinese business world and the preciousness of the male still overflows into the corporate world. Every coin has two sides. Your biggest advantage could be a disadvantage to you as well. The stereotypical education of the Chinese lady is also about training women not to be pleased by external gains and not be saddened by personal losses. This concept makes most Chinese women unable to understand their own advantages and position themselves properly within the social or corporate situations. Female leaders who have succeeded still have to be faced with social consensus of the criticisms and accusation for what they have done. Those who are unable to undertake these pressures tend to escape easily. As a result, females sometimes encounter a career bottleneck. In response to this, the HR practitioner could create a special training system for female staff to help explain their unique position and how to get use this to their greatest advantage- both in their careers and in the management of their business. Some successful women in their companies could be the best candidates for a coach, for example, this is might also be a way to build self-confidence for shy Chinese women. It may be a useful thing to do (for an HR Manager for example) to invite the CEO or equivalent to express encouragement towards female executives openly and regularly, (in a form of ‘positive’ discrimination!) Women also tend to be more sensitive (in particular to language according to the G.T. study) than men and these small gestures could help build small eco-systems whereby women have a greater level of equality than in the overall society, which is of course very good for their sense of self-worth. Secondly, HR departments may take family-related factors into consideration when helping female staff to plan their career paths and setting-up job goals, because men tend to have a greater sense of mission and responsibility- whilst females may be more concerned with family issues. Influenced by the traditional thought that men work for living and the women tend to be in the home, females must balance their work and life, and this directly leads to the reality that females have to play various social roles. Also, research suggests that female executives with high potential are less incentivised to achieve promotion and career development than their male counterparts. This mentality is more obvious in the later period of their career development curve. A way to alleviate this problem is to improve women’s welfare and working conditions. Examples include flexible working hours (so they can take their children to school, for instance). Another example is from one of our clients: They schedule a Parents-Children Day for all mums within their company. On that day, the company invites the husbands and children to work with the mums together. In this way, the family could understand the pressure and world load of their mums better and consequently reduce stress from the family side. Last but not least, it’s very important to train the male leaders on communicating with women staff appropriately, considerately and with respect.There are many men who are excellent business leaders but struggle when it comes to the niceties of ‘small talk’ with female colleagues. One report about society and culture from UNESCO demonstrates that the whole area in Asia-Pacific has lost USD 12-17 billion because of companies’ failure to properly utilise their female talent. How much of the loss is coming from your company? Or put better, how much do you stand to gain, financially and environmentally from better utilisation of the ‘fairer sex’!

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HR Localisation is Much More than Hiring Natives – RMG CEO on Business Tianjin

8 years ago, when I came to China for the first time, half of the positions in foreign companies in China were aimed at people who were from other Asian countries or other foreigners with Asian experience. However, in 2012, 80%of RMG Selection’s clients are MNCs and 90% of their positions require a Chinese candidate. Another official report, released by Talents Pool of Jiangsu Province Foreign Affairs Service Centre, also says that 95% of employees in foreign companies within their province are Chinese. It seems like the HR localisation in China is almost completed. Are most of the HR departments in those foreign companies are proud of their human resource localisation, because they hired so many Chinese candidates?

First of all, let’s see what ’localisation’ is. Localisation happens when an imported product, service, person or identity is given the local ‘look and feel’ with respect to language and identity. It is not simply a case of translating instructions and text on packaging into the language of the intended country; it is a way of fitting something to the target audience of the country. Then, in my mind, HR localisation is fitting your HR system to the people, society and employees in the target country. So to hire local employees is just the talent localisation, a small part of ’HR localisation’. According to my experiences, in 5 countries and 8 years working in China, I would say that there are four other tasks which should be performedin order to localising your HR System to here China.

Value Localisation

The most different aspect between China and other countries is the culture. But culture is the base of every single piece of business action. Chinese culture, as a representative of Eastern culture, is one of the longest surviving cultures worldwide. One of the important reasons for that is its adaptability and flexibility. But too much flexibility inevitably results in not attaching importance to the establishment and implementation of a formal system, relying more on the ‘rules of man’. Value localisation is not simply to adopt the local cultural values; it is a way to merge and combine your culture with the Chinese one. The best practice here is to explain your mission via the local language and logical thinking. And you should show your respect here.

Take RMG Selection as example, our slogan is ’specialist, professional, recruitment’. But it is kind of ’dry’ for merging the local culture here. Then, we add a company culture explanation here as ’Work Hard, Play Hard; Happy Staff, Happy Clients’. With this meaning we build up a unique HR management style of combining a friendship-feeling and family-feeling. This is the feature that all of my employees are proud of.

Reward Localisation

As a head hunting agency, we ask people why they join every day. There are many reasons from different people, but the most prevalent one of those is to be rewarded. The reward includes not only the salary but also all other kinds of benefits, incentives and inspiration. Chinese people think very highly of rewards and respects. In RMG Selection, we prefer to encourage any tiny correct action of our employees in relation to the bigger rewards available. Take new employees as an example. They will be keenly aware of such positive energy because here we pay special attention to the new employee’s incentives. New employees who produce fine performances will receive the praise during the general membership meeting. After that, a notice form will also be published via e-mail to the whole office. To increase positive responses, let the employees from China understand the attitude of the enterprise accommodating them. Also, increase their sense of accomplishment, pride and desire for further good performances. On the other hand, if you fail to consider these important Chinese values, you may lose the heart of your staff. There is another case from one of our clients. The way they calculate salary is to set up the highest income you will get and then minus some in the case that employees don’t reach their targets or make mistakes. However, the Chinese like the way of adding different items of income even though the final numbers are the same. We have heard many complaints from their employees and their turnover rate is more than other companies in the same industry.

Training Localisation

It is always good to have efforts from many areas. The employer could also train people to adopt the value, skills and views better suited to a localised way. Then we half the work of localisation with double results. One of the best practices is overseas training. For executives and managers, the main purposes are to nurture the international ties and strengthen the connection with the HQ. According to Shanghai Talents Market, there is a good number of MNCs which send their CEO from the HQ to Shanghai to pick up good managers. Those local managers will be sent back to the HQ having had global training. When they go back to China, they will be promoted to higher levels. For the graduates, the Global Trainee Program is a fundamental way to develop customised talents for your company. As we all know, Guanxi is incredibly central toChinese life. So I prefer the ’Mentoring System’ in China very much. In this system, every employee will have his/her coach and learn not only skills but also the way to deal with people in your company from the coach. Guanxi relates very much to the learning process. This is the way Chinese people feel comfortable.

Expatriate Localisation

Finally,, let’s go back to the original point – talents localisation. There is no doubt that this is the most important aspect of the for localisation process. But more is not alwaysbetter. How many expatriates you need really depends on your industry and culture. For example, 99% of employees in Wal-mart China were local people in 2006, while Motorola got 83.3% in the same year. And the Korean and Japanese companies usually have lower localisation level than western companies. My advice here is “please localize your expatriates as well”. Whatever you planned, it’s all about people. It will shorten the communication process of value, rewarding and training on all levels to make your expatriates understand the local language, culture, system and importance of social relationships.

In one word, localisation is an effective way to achieve a win-win situation. 2012 is the 34th year after China released the reform and opening-up policy. Foreign companies here should practice their localisation strategy. In myexperience, I believe HR will play a more important role in the whole process. It is just getting started.

By Robert Parkinson

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Underemployment: The Grey Area in HR Management – RMG CEO on Business Tianjin

Recent studies suggested that underemployment, a grey area between employment and unemployment, has become a surging problem faced by both hirers and employees.

In the Press Conference of the 2012 Blue Book of the Chinese Society, Professor Chen Guangjin, with the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, said that the employment situation in China is still complicated. He claimed that companies are having a hard time finding the right people and job seekers feel there are no opportunities for them. Meanwhile, another survey on working happiness indicators of employees shows low contentment rate in jobs. Both realities clearly illustrated the ubiquity of underemployment at present.

According to the data which RMG Selection collected from its clients, some positions have been open for three or even more years due to the high job requirements. As a result, some companies have to hire unqualified people to fill those positions in order to keep the projects running, others choose to hire overqualified talents with the knowledge that they are not able to keep them long enough.

Underemployment can also take place in areas where sections of the local economy are inactive. Some applicants, who could (and would like to) work as full-time employees, can only find part-time jobs due to lack of job and training opportunities or lack of social services of finding jobs.

Another situation can be understood as ‘overstaffing’ or ‘hidden unemployment’, in which full-time employees have to work part-time due to unavailability of work opportunities, inevitable budget cuts of the companies they work for, legal or social restrictions or the highly seasonal nature of the job itself.

If anyone in your team had previously experienced or is currently suffering from this underemployment, do not panic, the following points will help you to analyse the causes of these phenomena:

● Insufficiency utilisation of skills

On the labour market, companies always found themselves in a dilemma: the HR departments hope to catch big fishes, waiting for the ideal talents to knock on their doors. On the other hand, however, they always work under recruitment deadlines. The result is that they often end up choosing, instead of the right ones, either overqualified or under-qualified candidates, who would either feel not being valued highly enough or work under huge pressure caused by their inadequate capabilities. At the same time, senior employees are unhappy as they feel as though they’re being held back by having to work with unqualified newcomers. This would cause a chain reaction in which companies suffer from constant loss of human capital.

● Insufficient utilisation of economic capacity

The labour market is closely linked to the economic situation across society. Due to the limited job and training opportunities and the inadequate social welfare systems, the number of part-time or informal workers keeps growing. These workers, who are under-paid compared with full-time employees, could not be deemed as properly employed.

● Insufficient utilisation of employees

Even some formal employees, who are properly hired and collect a monthly salary, find themselves in a situation of underemployment. Specialists like fire fighters or EMTs are in two states at work: standing by or saving lives. These kinds of underemployment are understandable and necessary. However, it is crucial to prepare for those times on stand-by. But how? A private hospital with a 24-man EMT team has set us a good example in which the EMT members would exercise their skills and take exams periodically. In the long run, this kind of activity is not only beneficial to employees but also to the companies.

It is also the ‘habit’ in many state-owned companies that there are many staff members who lack tasks and aren’t busy; underemployment, culturally, has become the norm and as naturally and inevitably the Chinese economy moves away from state-run to privately-owned enterprises so too will there be an inevitable move towards business and activity as dictated by a competitive system.

Perhaps you have begun to look at a way to help your team?

After you have painstakingly screened the candidates for several times and selected the right guys for the jobs, you’d better make sure they don’t work in a state of underemployment. Below are some tips for your consideration:

● Make scientific performance evaluation systems – there are always reasons for staff to work harder and as the saying goes- ‘if you measure it, it gets better!”

Let’s take one of RMG’s clients, Stago, as an example. In this company, their performance evaluation system is made up of the fulfilment of working goals and personal development. Philippe Barroux, General Manager of Stago, said that the basic salary is based on the level of target fulfilment of the previous year. And in terms of personal development, an employee would sit together with his/her manager and list his/her personal aims for being a better talent at the beginning of a year. “The more aims you reach, the bigger annual bonus you get,” he said.

The annual performance assessment in Stago is not only an opportunity for discussing career development and training objectives for company staff, but also a great chance for establishing ‘win-win’ relationships between the employer and the employees. “Making personal development assessments for the employees made them feel a sense of achievement and also made their work more efficient,” said Philippe.

● Creating a positive competitive environment inside the enterprise, giving the employees a goal

A positive environment for competition is a good way to retain your employees. Let’s share the successful cases from P&G. One secret of P&G is the internal promotion, according to which P&G never hires a person from outside P&G as a superior. P&G only chooses, promotes and rewards those who have had outstanding working performances, which has nothing to do with other irrelevant factors. The promotion depends on the working performance and the contribution one made to the company. The speed of one’s promotion depends on one’s capability and achievements, a P&G spokesperson once said. For employees, the glamour of a company is not only the salary, but more importantly, there should be a channel for employees to realise their career ambitions.

● More promotion channels

It is important to make employees realise that no matter what department they work for and what positions they hold, everyone can find the way to success if they try. Furthermore, if they meet the requirements, they can be promoted to handle bigger responsibilities and get a better salary. The employees should not only positively accept the subjective judgments given by their supervisors. In a win-win relationship, they should combine their own personal career goals with their enterprise’s own development objectives.

Many people spend a lot of time developing their own methods after hearing some new ideas and forget that practice is the only way to create results. In the face of the underemployment situation, which may have already existed or may occur in the future, a manager should put his methods into practice. Only in this way can people successfully deal with emerging problems.

Read the whole article: http://www.businesstianjin.com/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=5271:underemployment-the-grey-area-in-hr-management-&catid=162:2012-october&Itemid=100

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How to Communicate with Your CEO? – RMG CEO on Business Tianjin

Last weekend, when having dinner with an HR manager of a well-known IT company in China, I asked him what he thought of his position in the company. Since we are old friends, he was quite frank and gave me an example. He said, “As you know, ‘dinner culture’ is very popular in China, especially in our industry. I’m often invited for lunches, suppers and cross-sectoral gatherings. Sometimes I’m a little late, but they will all wait for me, including the leaders of other departments. I usually talk a lot during the dinner no matter what the topic is. It is not that I want to talk that much, but that others will lead me into the conversation. Last Monday, I attended an enterprise development conference for senior managers on behalf of the director of our department. Throughout the conference, I barely got the opportunity to speak. Even when I tried to say something, the seniors just looked the other way. When the discussion was finished, they told us what our department should do in areas, such as recruitment and assessment. That was the end of the conference, and that was our ‘position’.”

This is, in my opinion about the most interesting part of the HR department of Chinese enterprises. On the one hand, the HR department is highly respected in China and regarded as a department that cannot be offended. This has a lot to do with the fact that, as a department in charge of staff, the HR department is an important source of a great deal of the company’s internal and confidential information. Besides, it gets to know something about salary, welfare, personnel appointment and removal in advance. Thus, everybody is more or less afraid of the HR department. For instance, recently, in a world-renown pharmaceutical company, the HR manager of a branch company in China was forced to resign for using confidential information to seek personal interest.

On the other hand, since the HR department is not a production department and doesn’t create profit directly, it seems to be treated as a subsidiary to the product from every angle. According to a recent telephone survey conducted by RMG Selection, 70% of the respondents did not consider the HR department as a strategic department. As many as 40% to 50% thought that the HR department was similar to an administration department in small and medium-sized companies. It seems that the HR department doesn’t get involved in the strategic management of the company, reducing it’s importance.

Nevertheless, in my experience of co-working with successful Western enterprises, great importance is attached to the HR department owing to its contribution to areas related to business, rather than its role as ‘personnel manager’. In England, most HRDs and vice-presidents in charge of human resources act as the business consultants of the company rather than directors within the HR department. In such companies, the HR department is established as a centre for sharing and consulting, providing comprehensive services—from recruitment to personnel training, from external market brand to internal cultural exchange, from personnel to business. In my opinion, this is a comparatively ideal development model for the HR department.

Now that we have a clear idea of the position of the HR department, it is easier to understand HRDs’ position on the company’s strategic conferences. Based on the current situation of China, the starting point is to understand that the HR department is an interdependent department in terms of strategic function. Here, ‘interdependent’ refers to an independent and interdependent relationship. For most of the time, the HR department treats itself as an independent entity, but consciously or unconsciously, it also engages in the ‘relationship’, so hardly manages to act independently. Therefore, in high-level meetings, it is crucially important to take a firm attitude of ‘not being afraid of being independent’. As plenty of information about the company is in the hands of HRDs, the HR department is able to make a more comprehensive and in-depth analysis of problems than other departments. In order to make use of the independent position of HRDs, three main principles should be followed:

1. Do not abuse power. The HR department is responsible for welfare, salary, personnel appointment to and removal from the company, but the staff of the department ought not to misuse this information. The HR department is the provider of service not the controller of the company.

2. Do only what is right for the company. This is far easier to say than do. It requires a comprehensive and repeated consideration for every problem, from the perspective of every department, in order to prevent any measures that may do harm to any sector of the company.

3. Set the bottom line. Confidential and unreliable messages and information which may have a negative effect, cannot be revealed under any circumstance.

Read the whole article: http://www.businesstianjin.com/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=5072:hr-how-to-communicate-with-your-ceo-&catid=161:2012-september&Itemid=100

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9 Steps Guideline – Hire to Keep Your People – RMG CEO on Business Tianjin

If we ask any professional person who works in a leadership, P&L management or strategic HR role for the most pressing problems in their work, the answer often focuses on two key points: how to hire the right people in the first place, and then how to keep them. In fact, the more employees we keep, the less hiring problems we will have in the future, as we benefit from the ‘stability snowball’ effect. As a recruiter of more than 15 years, I have learned to see the concepts of hiring and retention holistically, i.e: not as two independent processes, but rather as one. So here we share with you our 9 RMG golden rules of hiring to keep:

1. Ownership: Usually there will be several rounds of interviews before you offer someone a position. You get opinions from each interviewer and you often deal with the challenge of multiple time zones and complicated agendas. The resulting problem is that nobody seems to ‘own’ the hiring process. No one person takes responsibility for the new hire. This may result in losing good candidates, and a poorly perceived hiring process. SOLUTION: the hiring-manager owns the process and makes the decision. Do you take team input and feedback? Yes. Is it a team-decision? No, because the problem with ‘team-decisions’ is that nobody is ever quite sure who’s made it.

2. Money just can’t be the reason (ever): Make sure someone does not join you just for more money. Salary is the simplest way to attract your people away from you if that’s the only reason people join you in the first place. Successful employment relationships evolve when the values, goals and beliefs of the employer and employee are shared. In fact the decision to take a new job is rarely just about the money. However it often does seem that way, and it is important to get to the heart of the matter: what’s really important to your potential new team-member about their career? ACTION: Find out what really drives your new hire, and if, after thorough professional evaluation you conclude it’s just about the money, don’t move forward, because you’ll regret it if you do.

3. Pay them enough: We’ve dealt with why money shouldn’t be the only reason to hire, but it also can’t be the reason to put someone off. If the market’s paying 25k a month, then it probably makes sense to pay 26k if you like the person. Put simply, if you find someone is willing to join you for good reasons, then pay them well. Don’t (allow anyone to) play games with the candidate because it will make you look bad: a candidate who expects 35k per month, who is offered 28k a month after 4 rounds of interviews, will not flatter your hiring process on Weibo!

4. A definite salary scale: You need to set it up and then stick to it. Do not make any exceptions – keep a good internal equity. Any special treatment will break your system and the balance of the whole team. In other words you need to have a salary structure that is flexible enough to attract the right people, but is structured enough to reward the different grades in your organisation. Good candidates who genuinely want to join you will understand that exceptions can’t be made.

5. The Total package: The perceived value of your total package is very important. Set up other incentives which are not purely cash based: overseas trips (the top RMG performers are off to Thailand in July!), extra holidays, recognition systems (for good work), prizes/vouchers, team-building nights, etc will all encourage your people as well as being clear indications of commitment and investment in staff. You should also provide training and contribute towards a pleasant working environment.

6. Time and attention: When new people join, the manager should spend time with them and pay attention to them. The manager’s time means a lot to a new recruit. People will perform better when they see people notice them when they are new to your company. Too often, when candidates leave their new jobs quickly, they report that there was no induction process, or that they felt like they were getting in the way, or that no-one told them what to do. See your time with your new hire as a direct investment in the success of them and your company. This is particularly true of candidates in the first 5 years of their working life.

7. Calculate hiring costs: What is the financial cost of hiring a new staff member? How much does the time taken cost? Are there external recruitment costs? What is the total cost of a new hire not working out. What are the costs to your company’s reputation and employment brand? Once you count the full cost in financial terms, it will help show you the importance of a well thought-out hiring process and help you place extra attention on details that previously did not receive enough importance. Viewing the hiring and induction process from this perspective will also help you to think more creatively.

8. Be aware of non-verbal communication in both the hiring & induction process: People’s eyes won’t lie to you! When you talk with your candidates or your existing team, do look at their eyes and be aware of their body language. Those signals tell you much more than the words (much much more!!). Are they happy/unhappy? Satisfied/dissatisfied? Open or hiding? Wise managers trust both their own instincts and the non-verbal signals from their people. It is said that only 7% of a communication’s importance is attributable to the actual words.

9. Trust your instincts: Human beings make decisions instinctively (and emotionally) and then search for the facts to justify them. Whether or not you believe this to be true, it is certainly worth keeping in mind that your feelings do provide a great compass to guide you towards, for example, a need for further information. Trust them.

Read the whole article: http://www.businesstianjin.com/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=4933:hr-9-steps-guideline-hire-to-keep-your-people&catid=152:august-2012&Itemid=100

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