Tag Archives: HR

Recruiters – take it easy on HR

HR Departments

Recruiters: Take it easy on HR professionals. These are THEIR issues!

HR DepartmentsIn my previous article, I pointed out to HR people how they could establish more productive working relationships with their clients and in particular the HR departments.

In this article, I turn that theme on its head and point out some of the things that most recruiters are not aware of when dealing with their clients, and perhaps should be.

1.      HR Departments have a tough job to do. Theyare not regarded nor treated with the respect they mostly deserve by their internal clients; and particularly in China are regarded as a ‘supporting’ function rather than a business function. Companies who truly embrace HR as a profession have an HR seat on the board, because they realize, for example that people are often the biggest cost to businesses and the performance you get from your ‘people’ can have a huge impact on the top line and overall profitability of the business.

2.      Recruiters – don’t shoot the messenger. Very often when an internal recruiter or even an HR Director tells you that they can’t pay you more than 20% for recruitment they are not doing this out of some bizarre desire to annoy you. They are doing it because at a corporate level this is a decision that has been made. Ignore recruitment training that gives you lots of ‘tricks’ to get a higher fee, instead establish sensible dialogue with your HR colleagues

3.      They are the first to have their budgets cut. HR departments are often the first department to have their budgets cut when times are tough.  When this season comes round ‘HR’ is again seen as a cost rather than a value add (in itself annoying if I were an HR professional) and the axe falls here first. This is hardly good for morale is it? Realize this as a recruiter. If you empathize with your HR colleagues you will build a better relationship faster.

4.      Atone point my wife was seconded to an HR team for 6 months, and she told me that the sheer volume of paperwork that HR people have to manage is enormous. Recruiters complain about KPIs and form filling, but compared to HR teams this is nothing.  If they can’t answer your email straight away there is a reason for that.

5.      Be explicit in asking for the best way to communicate. Ask your HR clients how they can communicate with you and how is best to follow-up if you don’t get response. It is far better to be explicit about this and ask the question rather than to guess, email, call, text in vain. This is a direct, honest way of working that will gain YOU respect.

6.      Make friends! One of my most successful team-members is successful because she is very good at making friends with HR clients. But what does this really mean? It means everything I’ve just talked about: Showing empathy; showing respect; understanding how best to communicate; understanding their professional priorities. If you do all of these things, then naturally, without any manipulation or trickery a good level of rapport and then friendship will flow.

The Author is the founder of RMG Selection. His linkedin profile can be viewed here.

Junior HR in China: Here’s some help!

junior hr in china

It’s better to be friends – honest! – read on….     

In my 11 years running recruitment businesses in China (latterly my own RMG Selection) and almost 20 in the recruitment consultancy business I have encountered numerous ‘clients’ – that is to say – those hiring candidates via us, who seem to think behaving with explicit rudeness, dishonestly and lack of speed; with a sense of superiority and often with a lack of information is the way to show their importance and seniority. This is particularly true of junior HR in China.

I have also worked with some lovely clients. One German lady was a real pleasure to work for. One Frenchman became a very close friend, one Chinese lady became such a good friend that she came to my child’s 100 day party (a Chinese thing).

Here’s why behaving like the first group ‘Group rude’, isn’t smart:

  • You simply will not get the best service. People are programmed from birth to ignore or do the least for those who treat them poorly. It’s an automatic response. It’s a bit like me putting out my hand for you to shake it; you will reach out yours – automatically. The same is true of those that treat us poorly; we automatically give them less attention.
  • You will lose your company money. If you treat people like your personal slave, but maintain the contract/agreement with them, the chances are reasonably high you will end up paying them for something at some stage. For example, if my consultant is dealing with ‘x’ internal recruiter at ‘x’ company, after a while ‘x’ company will probably hire one of my recruiter’s candidates…………………….Now go back and think about your interactions with the consultant. If you had been more pleasant, time had been better spent, you respected their personal time rather than calling at 10pm, and you dropped the attitude, wouldn’t you have saved yourself time? Wouldn’t they be more motivated to work for you?
  • You will look foolish. One of the many realizations I’ve had in my time in the recruitment consultancy business is that those clients who act as per group 1 ‘Group rude’ and behave with a sense of superiority and lack of respect, do in fact demonstrate only 2 things: One, they are junior and trying to overcompensate for it; and two – they lack the experience and wisdom to know that if you treat people well they will treat you well. They also seem to believe that their behavior is invisible to those senior in their companies. It isn’t. How people behave is one of the fastest ‘markers-out’ of personality there is, and good recruiters establish senior level contacts, fast.

So that’s what you shouldn’t do, so what should. Here’s a checklist:

  • If you manage an external ‘vendor’ (we are called business partners in the west), treat them in a friendly, respectful mature way. Speak to them politely and courteously and don’t call them after hours unless it’s an emergency, they have a life too.
  • If they are working hard to help you, make sure you work hard to help them help you. The number of times I’ve spoken to clients who haven’t even read CVs they’ve requested when days before they were ‘in a rush’ days is too horrifying to even recall!
  • Give out information, and if you don’t know find out! Most if not all HR departments are not fully conversant with the nuances of each job in their company. How could they be? That is an impossible task. But equally, a recruitment consultant can’t do their job if the are not in possession of all the facts. Help them get to the facts, and do it with them – i.e. talk to the line manager(s) with the recruiter.
  • Pay their invoices. On time. If you make an agreement stick to it. The number of people (again a sign of lack of seniority) who think it’s ‘OK’ to renegotiate after a ‘deal’ is done is staggering. Don’t expect recruitment consultants to do their best for you, if you don’t honor their agreements. If there’s a genuine hold up in a payment process, first apologise for it, then explain it: I had an email from an HR VP this morning asking if an invoice had been paid – he could not have been more pleasant – I replied thanking them for the follow-up. This is what really senior people do.

Of course all of this assumes that the recruiter is intelligent, knowledgeable, and professional in the first place. But if they weren’t you wouldn’t be talking to them, would you?

In the west, recruitment has moved on. It’s no longer the domain of those who haven’t been to university, or those who are good at selling printers. It attracts intelligent graduates.

The relationship between HR and recruiters has also moved on too. It is all about collaboration and respect, not politics and posturing. Isn’t it about time China grasped this too? Think of the time it would save!

This article was written by Robert Parkinson, Founder & CEO of RMG. He can be contact by email via [email protected] or via +86 10 5896 2210 (direct).

Create Good Relationships in China (really good).

“Oh Can you PLEASE stop banging on about relationships!”

By Robert Parkinson, CEO & Founder RMG Selection

create good relationships in china In the last article, there was a nice piece written by one of my team on how to create good relationships. I want to give a different perspective this time, and suggest why, in my view actually everything is becoming less and less about relationships, and more and more about substance; and of course how all this fits in to the prism of “Human Resources”. First of all though, don’t you get sick of people talking incessantly about how important it is to have “good relationships”? -all the time! It never stops in China! If you ask someone what will make them successful in their studies, the answer is: “A good relationship with my professor”. If you ask someone what are the essentials to success in your career, the answer is invariably: “lots of ‘cherished’ connections and contacts” [being good at what you do is sometimes a very long way down that list];  If you ask someone what do their clients want (you guessed it) it’s: “a strong relationship”. This encore of “good relationship” “good relationship” “good relationship” on occasion has made me quietly go mad! No! I shout (to myself). It’s not just about relationships (“It” I suppose meaning success in what you are doing): “It’s” about knowledge, credibility, sensitivity, ability; adaptability, and most importantly the ability to build and sustain trust with others. Possibly even more annoyingly as we start to slice up the relationship obsession, another expression I hear often is “My friend”: “My client and I are very good friends:” Oh really I think, that’s why they hammer you down on fees and make no apology for calling you at 9pm! Relationships where the service provider is exploited by the purchaser are bad relationships. When I ask my staff where they have found a candidate, the answer will often be “My friend referred me to him” when in fact it wasn’t his friend at all, it was a business contact on the company’s database. Is it even possibly to have a genuine friendship with someone who you have a commercial relationship with? Instinct tells me not. You might be friendly with them, but that doesn’t mean you’re actually friends, which is a subtle but important distinction very many misunderstand. create good relationships in china What does a good relationship mean any way? What “a good relationship” is, is subjective. To me it is a relationship of productivity and honesty, and mutual trust and respect. To others “a good relationship” may be timely favors and gifts. Of course those of us who are foreigners really have no idea (and I don’t intend to explore it here) just how important relationships are to Chinese people (and indeed to Asian people in general). I suppose it certainly must be very important otherwise they wouldn’t talk about it the whole time? But certainly we probably should respect its importance whether perceived or real. The other positive thing to say about the “relationship obsession” is that Chinese people are both pragmatic and instinctively commercial. They know that a good (business) relationship without timely service or product delivery will not last long, so perhaps when they hear the “relationship, relationship” refrain, they assume that good service is ‘a given’. So there are pros and cons of the “relationship obsession” and I agree that there might be positive reasons for emphasizing relationships; and we will forgive our hosts the occasional annoyance. However: what we have not yet done is answered the question that I’ve implied from the beginning, and that is: If your clients (clients could be colleagues, bosses etc) don’t just want good relationships with you, then what do they want? The answer, in my view, is simply this: You do what you say you’ll do. You deliver. Without delivery, a (good) relationship is pointless. relationships in china It doesn’t matter how nice the receptionist is, if the bed’s lumpy and the shower doesn’t work, the ‘friendliness’ is irrelevant and my relationship with that hotel is over. It doesn’t matter how cozy our lunch on Friday was, if you’re 20 minutes late to my meeting, I don’t like it, and our lunch will not forgive it. There’s a more important reason that all of this matters in China in 2016: As more business sectors are opened up, and GDP slows, and the rest of world’s economies are in uncertain territory, then the more competitive the Chinese business climate will become. Indeed one day, China Mobile, Unicom & Telecom will not be the only 3 in the mobile providers market, and no matter how many years you’ve been with the big 3, if you get a better deal from “Virgin Mobile China” (for example–it doesn’t actually exist), you’ll move to Virgin Mobile China. Old relationship over. All of this is directly relevant to the workforce of China in 2016: Just as the economy as a whole in China will undoubtedly feature a downward pressure on prices and upward pressure on quality, the same is true of us as “Human Resources”. I am now in my second decade living and working in China. In the first I observed a labour market that embraced even the most semi-competent as a high-fliers. The word “talent” was showered in amongst every HR related conversation. Even I stopped getting shocked when literally everyone said they expected 30% more salary for doing the same job just because it was with another company. My predication is that this decade of the outrageous pay increases even for the mediocre will not be repeated. Just like the country as a whole which will have to become much more competitive and value oriented; so must people in their own careers stop focusing on “who do I know” (the relationships) and start focusing on “what do I know” (the substance). I remember at the start of my career I read an article at a company careers fair which basically said we much prefer people who can be successful in any country at anytime rather than people who can be mega-stars, but only in one location and at one thing. I didn’t completely understand that then, I certainly do now. Never more is this truth-truer than in China in 2016. In light of that assertion, how important do you think relationships are now? To read the original article, please click:  http://t.cn/RtXtCRu relationships in china

Executives! – listen up! Stop turning your Admin staff into HR staff!

Business Tianjin Last month I was sitting in my garden in the UK enjoying the beautiful sunshine and clear air scanning my email messages when I saw a note come through from a client instructing my company to find them the position of “HR & Administration Director”. The fact that giving people instructions as opposed to a polite request, was not really the main source of my bemusement (although symptomatic of what needs to change in the “supplier/receiver” relationship in China) the main source of my eye-raising was the job title. This article aims to describe one of the issues which wastes billions of RMB a year, causes huge disruption within companies, and contributes to massive churn in white collar labour markets: the confusion of HR and administration professionals. Most companies, including the large ones don’t understand what HR is about. It is a parking bay for a whole host of different tasks including: salaries, personnel administration, hiring, firing, annual reviews, etc. Business strategy – in my view the most important strand of HR – is rarely included. The difficulty with combining functions like this is that each requires unique, and sometimes opposing skill-sets. For example: administration requires someone who is detail-oriented, enjoys order, and will not be satisfied until organisation and order are achieved. This is who they are as people and they enjoy it. Conversely, people who hire and fire, require completely different traits, some of which may be learned, but most of which are innate: “firers” require resoluteness and compassion; “hirers” need to be out-going, energetic, inspiring, and both require great communication skills. Anyone with a basic knowledge of the DISC assessment profile I have written about previously (DISC = Dominance, Independence, Steadiness, Compliance) will realise that many of these responsibilities are at opposite ends of the behavioural spectrum. An administration person might, for example, be very compliant and steady, whereas a recruiter or a business consultant is likely to be dominant and highly independent.pic magazine Talking of the role of business consultant or strategist, especially in China, this role is completely at odds with the way the HR profession operates. The role of the strategic HR professional ( rather than administration) is, put simply, to help the business with their people “issues”. This means that you need to be an adept communicator, a politician, a manager of big egos (often), in your task of guiding and teaching the organisation that better training, managing, communicating with, recruiting, inducting and treating their team members will result in better results. Often this means encouraging a manager that his direction is wrong or needs improvement. This requires dominance and frankly a low level of compliance. This is real HR. In my experience, foreign companies in China do not understand or value the role of Human Resources professionals. Companies regard the role of administration and HR as a pooled group of assistants of which the cleverest and most bosspleasing get promoted. Most “bosses”, absolutely including the foreign ones, encourage their chosen-one by tempting them with inflated titles and temping salaries, and whether cons ciously or uncons ciously encourage a “yes boss” culture. They do not encourage critique of their ideas, and frankly neither party could handle either the giving or receiving of critique. (I had a very fun session this week with a very bright, “risingstar” of my company where I tried to encourage her to think of three things I needed to improve. We managed one, with the help of my wife, who (correctly) said that I was impatient. The rising-star agreed!) Rather than treating HR as a serious discipline, what you in act get are glorified assistants, who are taught to obey rather than challenge (I refer specifically to China here). This poses substantial difficulties to companies where the wrong p eopl e a r e t asked with, for example recruitment, or compensation and benefits. The costs of getting a “hire” wrong are well documented and typically amount to ten times (plus plus) the wrong hire’s salary. Let’s look at an example:
  1. New western general managers in China tend to make a lot of cultural blunders and mistakes in management. They are promoted because they are experts in their field, be it scientists, accountants, sales people etc, and in the case of the foreign companies, they are the “trusted one” in a foreign land. The one thing they really need is a “people-strategist” who will say “no” to them. This is the one thing they don’t get.
  2. Mistakes cost money. Let’s use an example from my profession: If I hire a recruitment consultant and they cost me, for example, including employers costs 10,000 RMB per month. They also require a desk, telephone and computer, and if lucky a chair, again which costs money, and they – on average – take at least two hours of my time a week (directly) and much more indirectly. Now, add this all up: in a year, the cost is 120,000 RMB. Not small money if you multiply this by even 10 staff. Time-wise, in a year, it’s 100 hours of my time, directly, or put another way, it’s exactly two and a half weeks. Now apply the same sums to a position paying 1 million RMB per annum, and the result of getting it wrong really starts to look dangerous.
Let me give you another example in compensation and benefits, and let’s look at issues surrounding this which help explain the importance of sound policy:
  1. Salaries in China are probably the most fluid and fast-moving in the world. Change is rapid, surprising, and unapologetic.
  2. Lack of fairness is one of the biggest causes of employment churn. Money isn’t a motivator, it’s a de-motivator.
  3. Therefore, keeping the above two factors in mind, is it:
a. Sensible to delegate to someone who has no experience of designing and devising future proofed compensation and benefits programmes, but happens to wear the label HR Director you have neatly assigned? b. A good idea to get involved in the above, in partnership with your finance and HR teams, mindful that you (the GM) are the ultimate “HR head”? c. Hire a compensation and benefits specialist? Clearly the answer is either b. or c. depending on the size and resources of your company. You would be amazed at how often the reality is that the answer is a. To refresh: Don’t confuse strategic HR and administration, both are vitally important but they require different qualities. Encourage critique and ideas from your HR team, it will flourish and you will learn. Use specialists or get involved yourself – you don’t delegate your tax affairs to your admin manager, why do the same with Human Resources? – Arguably your most important resource. On a final note, there is a paradox here: Chinese people, in my view, are amongst the most resourceful and capable group of people I have worked with. In my view they have a huge capacity to adapt and absorb, and given the right frame-work it is my belief that they would brilliantly fulfill the real role of an HR professional. The paradox therefore is that it is the foreigners (mainly) that prevent this by treating people as assistants and reinforcing the belief that this is how and what the job should be.pic magazine This article is published on Business Tianjin Magazine: http://t.cn/Rqd9K5S

Making Sense of The Challenge of A Big Move

Recruitment | Robert Parkinson  


China is the world’s second-largest economy with growth that would leave many countries salivating. In my view China is a fantastic place to live and work in. Because everyone’s experience is not mine, let me share some feedback on what I think is important about a career in the country.

It’s important to clarify that my target audience is people who have had at least three to four years of work experience outside China and are not of Chinese or oriental decent (which of course changes things a bit because issues of heritage and family come into play).

I believe one of the major success factors for my expatriate life in China is that I had already worked in a country (the Netherlands) other than my own for a significant period. OK, you might say, Amsterdam is a 50-minute flight from London whereas Beijing is about 8,000 kilometers away, but still it is a different culture; and I believe that truly understanding that we all see the world in a different way is something that only happens with time and experience.

I have seen many examples of expatriates in China landing in Beijing or Shanghai with the “I’ll get ‘them’ to do it our way (!)” mentality, and then slowly but surely their confidence wanes. Successful laowai realize that you will never change a culture thousands of years old, no matter how convincing you are. It is far better to understand and appreciate it.

The second, but perhaps most important tool for foreigners to do well in China is language. I can list at least 10 examples of people I know well who have enjoyed accelerated careers (in China) simply because they’ve made the effort to get to grips with Mandarin at a fluent or semi-fluent level. When I was at school in the 1980s and early 90s, there was tremendous emphasis on the European Initiative (basically, pupils from the age of 10 upwards were all taught German) which has since been quietly replaced with Mandarin.

Interestingly, learning English is also the most important advice I give to young Chinese people. I know many Chinese professionals who’ve done very well simply because they speak English fluently.

Staying with the practical and financial perspective for a second, the next most important element for foreigners – both early- and mid-career – is to be sent to China. Packages for the talented are still good and managers in disciplines such as finance, law and general management can expect tax equalization, paid apartments and schooling for children on top of hefty base salaries and bonuses (of course you have to perform, otherwise you’ll certainly be replaced).

I compare this with foreigners who move jobs within China who almost certainly will not get perks such as schooling and housing – and will probably be awarded a “local plus” package, or just a comparable package to a person from the local market.

Alongside expatriation, of course one has to understand that the expectations set at the beginning of an expatriate assignment in terms of timing have very little bearing on reality: three-year assignments quite often turn in to 10/15 plus year relocations. Why? Because for the vast majority of people working here, it takes at least two to three years to get used to life. At that point, most companies want to see a return on these investments so usually they prefer their managers to stay longer (if they’re good).

Finally, moving more toward the profound, one should consider such factors as: Are you genuinely interested in Chinese culture? Life is much easier if you are. Are you coming because you believe China is something of a magic cash machine? It isn’t. Are you prepared for the cultural differences? Read. Have you anticipated the problems? Ask.

There is a lot written about China, which is valid and useful, and equally a lot, which is based on prejudice, hearsay and speculation. Above all, do yourself a favor and come here for a week, there are thousands of travel options now, so come and explore, meet people and decide whether or not the challenge is for you, because above all else China is without doubt exactly that: a challenge.

The author is founder and managing director of RMG Selection, an Asia-focused human resources and recruitment consultancy.

Read the original version at: China Daily USA More information: RMG Selection