Tag Archives: RMG Selection

Making Best Interviews

Making the Best of Interviews

By Robert Parkinson

bt_201504_19_hr_-_2 In a recent radio show, China International Radio’s Career Builders, I was asked to talk about the volume of Chinese job changing around the Spring Festival time and spoke mainly from the point of view of Chinese employees. It was a very interesting discussion. Unlike the situation in China, British employers barely worry about the “festive employee loss” issue. On my way back I thought about the topic from the different angle. HR Managers either recruit to fill a new role or to replace someone who is about to leave. In the busy hiring season I notice that the majority of HR managers are often so eager to interview candidates that they misjudge a lot of job applicants’ performance in the interview process. To make the best of interviews, efforts shouldn’t just come from interviewee. I think that it is a good idea to give some potentially-can-succeed candidates a second interview opportunity. The first principle is to make sure that HR staffs always notify candidates about the interview process and tell them the result on time. Failure to succeed at an interview is sometimes the result of sudden changes in the financial or personnel dynamics of the company. It has nothing to do with the quality of candidates. If you keep a senior managerial type candidate waiting for 3 months without any feedback, they will absolutely be angry with you. Remember the golden rule is to notify candidates as soon as possible after the interview. Instead of sending an email, I would suggest that candidates are notified by phone calls. Few HR people call candidates about the result of an interview, but it is a very important and indispensable step. Although nobody likes being rejected for whatever reasons, keeping candidates waiting makes it worse. In particular, promising candidates who are interested in your company might postpone or give up interview opportunities from other companies. If you forget or intentionally postpone letting them know, you will leave a poor impression of the professionalism of the HR department and the company. To follow up with the example of keeping a senior manager waiting for interview results, anger equals to distrust. Once they are angry with your ignorance, they rarely turn back to you even if you ask in a very nice way. I suppose that is also the major reason why there are sometimes complaints from recruitment consultants that HR Managers are sharp and brusque. It seems that some HR Managers and HR staffs behave in a less than professional way, making U-turns on candidates before and after the interview. While a 180°attitude change is likely to alienate, a friendly approach will produce a better result in the long term. If the interviewee fails to bring out his or her best performance, HR staff should not be judgmental. It is the best to finish the interview by telling a candidate how long he or she will have to wait for the result. Some interviewees might be too nervous or unprepared for the first interview, but sometimes they can show real potential with a precious second chance. The benefit for HR Managers is huge, too. If important positions suddenly become available – and this happens all the time – it is often effective to look back at old contacts instead of searching for new people. Making Best Interviews In addition, I strongly suggest that HR managers should keep a record of all candidates who are failed or postponed at the first round interview. This can be done on a simple Excel sheet or in a more sophisticated company talent database. Those who impressed at interview but just failed to meet the standard needed to move to the next round might usefully be highlighted. Such a database can be the basis of a company recruiting network which is very useful when there is an unexpected and urgent need to fill a position. This will be particularly helpful for start-up or small businesses to further develop and expand. You can also use this to notify those in the ‘not quite’ category of the latest job opportunity. If they are truly interested in the business, they will want to apply again. For example, recruitment consultants in my company always keep records of past interviews. The official term in the recruitment business for this is called building up the “interview pipeline.” They add information about potential candidates and put them into various categories according to their needs and abilities. Whenever they communicate with these candidates, they always write down key points and useful information in the conversation. Candidates are highlighted in different colors to indicate their potential and attractiveness to clients. In this way, consultants are reminded on the frequency to keep in contact with these applicants. When a level of trust has been built up gradually, these candidates are extremely helpful in sharing not only industrial information but their availability to clients. With such a powerful candidate pipeline, you will want to maximize what you can achieve with it. In addition to sending them new vacancy updates, what else can you do? There is an important term in the field of marketing – User Stickiness. Many marketing executives work hard to encourage users to keep visiting their official websites, Facebook, Ebay, and store websites. The third suggestion is to apply user stickiness human resource management, too. HR Managers are able to increase the “stickiness” of the relationship with potential candidates simply by adding those high potential candidates to the company newsletter list. In this way, candidates can be updated in the newsletter with industry insights, company news, notices of new product releases, industry surveys, networking events and so forth. To make the plan work well, you’d better discuss your thoughts with the marketing or sales department beforehand. Make sure that they are willing to open a separate list in the newsletter system. With some advanced newsletter apps, you can track the performance of each list, too. For instance, with my company, the marketing team uses Mail-chimp to send the monthly newsletter out. We can set separate sending lists and name the categories by ourselves. We can see the number of people who open the email, how many times they open it, the specific percentage of people who click links, and who they are after sending newsletters. The app will even usefully rate each person on the list from 1 (poor engagement) to 5 (great stickiness). It is worthy of trying this with solid data feedback, because you can know candidates better. We are all busy at work. Starting every task from fresh might waste too much time. However, if we can keep discovering new people and make full use of the current candidate pipeline at the same time, what a result it will be! Recruiting is a job with constant daily communication with different people. Wearing the “HR Poker Face” mask every morning and taking it off after dusk will not work at all. To quote a principle from How to Win Friends and Influence People, you have to “become genuinely interested in other people.” I am genuinely interested in candidates. I do believe that hard-working candidates are worthy of a second chance. I urge you to give it a try. Making Best Interviews Read the original article, please click: http://t.cn/RcEBvIK

Leadership tips for young managers

Leadership tips for young managers

By Robert Parkinson, Founder of RMG Selection

Business team working on their business project together at office - Team work

Manager, a sacred word in business which has connotations of hope and trust, is a very serious job title in the West, where the average age of managers is between 30 and 40 years old. The development of the Internet has changed some traditional industries dramatically in recent years. A senior manager in logistics might be good at managing the whole business process, but does he have any idea about operating a modern overseas warehouse? That is probably an area where his strengths are useless. Nowadays, more of the bright and talented young employees who have required knowledge and skills are promoted to be managers. But excellent as many young leaders are, they usually face a lot of challenges during the first big step up in their career. This article explores some of the pitfalls they may face and suggests some of the better ways of dealing with difficult situations.

Differences in behaviour, before and after promotion:

The purpose of promotion is to recognise an employee’s good performance at work. A young salesman, for instance, can be promoted to be a sales manager who is responsible for the performance of five sales people because of his amazing likability. Clients want to give them business and colleagues enjoy having them as a friend.

However, that doesn’t mean they are the perfect choice for a managerial role. If they used to show up 30 minutes late to work every other day and skulked away once in a while, neither had any negative impact on their sales figures, but it may mean they are not best suited for a managerial position. What do you think team members will do if they see their leader is late for work every day? Naturally they will follow! Therefore, a big difference young managers must make is to correct their own shortcomings and work on being a good example for team members. That is the basis of your credibility!


Dealing with your peers:

The major challenge for many young leaders is the changein relationship with their peer groups. Some think the shoe fits them quite well hence they tend to differentiate from their peers. However, others believe that not losing friendship with their peers is the priority.

Managers should be aware that they are responsible for the performance of others and try to develop a serious working relationship with their peers without letting it affect friendships.

Managinng the unmanageable:

Every manager at some point in their career has the unenviable task of having to deal with the “unmanageable” My advice for young managers is to find out, first and the foremost, why is this team member difficult to manage.

Listen to them! Team management is about communication. If a member of the team doesn’t listen to you and follow your plans, instead of complaining to a senior manager, you should at least try to listen to them first. Listen to their feedback on your plan and also listen to the plan they come up with. A good leader is not one who excels at everything but someone that excels at making the best use of others.

Building personal confidence: 

Another problem that young managers face is self-doubt. The voice of doubt normally starts when you have to deal with senior team members. The volume then keeps going up until it plagues your mind. The solution is very simple – stop it!

Focus on the positive sides of decisions that you make. The second step is to balance the negative sides. Thirdly, take time to rest outside of work. Go out with your friends to grab a drink or have a nice dinner. Anything that makes you happy is good for your confidence. The last step is to visit/call someone who can offer good advice. They can be your coaches, mentors, managers etc.

Your first few important decisions are probably made during this process. But that’s OK confidence building doesn’t happen all at once. Understanding this process will help young managers build up confidence gradually. In the meantime, be open to mistakes! It will help you grow as a manager.

Group of happy young business people in a meeting at office

Learning to say “no”:

Saying “no” to team members can be difficult. Some ask for casual leave and others ask too many questions. The key is all about the language. In other words, it’s not what you say but how you say it. Most young leaders are afraid to reject their team members because they do not want to damage the relationship. But this is the wrong way to go.

Think about the impact on other team members that watch you agree with everyone’s requests. They might think that you are a nice and easy-going person, but they may also regard you as a weak manager. Learn to reject unnecessary requests with kindness. Either a small talk or a mocking joke can easily let employees know that what they request is not appropriate.

To read the original article, please click:  http://t.cn/RcNiWgu

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

Retail-giants prepare to enter the global freight forwarding industry

Since the economic crisis of 2008, the responsibility for the challenging environment in the logistics service sector has primarily been attributed to a weakened global economy, shipping overcapacity and the lack of regulations. However, the true challenge for the world’s oldest service sector might come from a completely different direction: E-retail. Within the last 12 months, the freight forwarding industry has been the stage for some major mergers and acquisitions. DSV acquired UTI, increasing its presence in North America and Africa. SDV and Bollore Africa globally merged as one Bollore Group. Japan Post entered the forwarding industry by acquiring Toll Group and is expected to take over DHL Global Forwarding in the near future. Meanwhile, DHL’s forwarding arm is losing market share to runner-ups DB Schenker and Kuehne-Nagel. While the “big 10” are becoming bigger and fighting back for market share, the small- and medium-sized players swear by their flexibility, cost control and customer service. Only time will tell which strategy is superior: Bigger is better or less is more. pic magazine4 Freight rates remain low due to a continuing shipping overcapacity and record low commodity prices. Meanwhile, shipping alliances strengthen their market power by increasing their direct sales activities: selling to cargo-owners directly without the mediation of a forwarding agency. These tough circumstances have motivated many traditional forwarders to invest in new sectors such as ecommerce and warehousing. This, in turn, quickly leads to overcapacity in these other sectors too. While the forwarding industry is somehow blindsighted by the smoke it creates internally, the biggest threat for the $350 billion industry might actually come from the outside. Amazon, the world’s largest retailer and a frontrunner in IT, already provides warehousing services. The retailer also owns drones. At the end of 2015, Amazon started negotiations with Boeing to lease jets in order to start its own air-cargo services. Early 2016 Amazon China has been registered as an ocean freight forwarder, enabling the retail-giant to directly ship from China, still the world’s largest exporter of manufactured goods. In April 2016, rumours were spread that Amazon will invest in buying its very own container ships. This, it is said, is the company’s final step in its strategy to become the world’s first retail oligopoly. Amazon will significantly benefit from its economy of scale. The company’s state of the art technology, including drones, is likely to lead to a much more streamlined and cost saving logistics process. Alibaba, Amazon’s main competitor, is bound to go a similar way. Alibaba Logistics has already established an advanced hierarchical network within China, using a number of closely controlled partners. In line with its international ambitions, the Chinese retailer is increasingly investing in the development of a global supply chain. For instance, last year the company invested an additional $138 million in SingPost, increasing its stake in Singapore’s national postal and logistics company to 14.51 percent.   It might take another decade, but Amazon’s “own-all” and Alibaba’s “control-all” global supply chain strategies will inevitably transform the logistics industry as we know it today. Besides a fast increase of competition, the two companies will bring in valuable knowledge of information technology, something that will have a significant impact on the traditionally “people-driven” industry. In the long-term, the recent flow of M&As in the forwarding industry might turn out to be a first attempt to weapon against the tech-savvy newcomers by combining years of logistics experience and knowledge. Ever since the Chinese kings and Roman emperors moved their armies around the globe, logistics has been a pure people-business. So far the sector has been relatively resistant towards the introduction of information technology. But E-retail is likely to enter the freight forwarding industry on a big scale in the foreseeable future, the consequences for the sector’s traditional labour market should not be underestimated. For instance, imagine a drone delivering cargo directly from the ship to the buyer, without the need for offloading and domestic trucking. While the current discussion centers primarily on diminishing profit rates and rising labor costs, the logistics service sector might actually have a bigger fish to catch. The author is a partner and leader of RMG Selection’s Logistics and Supply-Chain group in greater China which provides recruitment and human resource services to the freight forwarding and logistics industries as well as recruiting in-house supply chain roles.                                     To read the original artical, please click:http://t.cn/Rqdlgwkhttp://t.cn/Rqe1IPl  

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