Tag Archives: RMG

Now for a Place on the big Stage – RMG CEO on China Daily

The post-90s generation is about to enter the workforce. what should they, and employers, expect?

In the past few years, I have been asked by dozens of media organizations why State-owned enterprises and local employers are so attractive to graduates. However, the latest ChinaHR-sponsored Best Employers List, an annual compilation of the most-desired employers among China’s new graduates, contained a different view.

The list, published last month, featured 18 multinational companies (MNCs), and shows an increasing tendency toward working for MNCs as their employment brands become more attractive compared with SOEs and Chinese companies.

Moreover, in the discussions started by job seekers on Internet chat rooms in China, foreign companies seem to attract the most attention. “Hasn’t the Philips interview started? I’m so anxious!” “Does anyone know about Unilever’s admission news?” The urgent questions come one by one, and there are signs of recovery for foreign companies in China – it seems that they tend to be the first goal of this year’s graduates.

Actually, according to my experience in career consulting, this type of change is inevitable. Young graduates seem to feel comfortable when foreign companies interview them. My company, RMG Selection, found that 90 percent of candidates choose to stay in the same type of company. That means people who work for a MNC prefer to have another MNC to be their next employer, while people working for an SOE job-hop to other SOEs as well. Only 10 percent will consider a change.

Why does this happen? Clearly the influence of company culture and philosophy is a major reason. As we know, foreign companies usually have a different culture and management style to more traditional Chinese companies.

The post-90s generation has grown up at a time when the social material condition is relatively rich. In particular, information availability, information technology and the Internet developed rapidly as the 21st century dawned. Those changes have deeply influenced the growth of the post-90s generation.

The Horizon Group recently released a survey about the psychology of this generation. The report showed that 26.3 percent of participators believed the biggest reason for success was “knowledge and ability”; the best features they liked were “talents” (49.5 percent) and “great effort” (29.4 percent). This group of people is said to emphasize individuality and self-actualization. As the survey said, 46.7 percent of respondents enjoy change in their lives and 43 percent of them like to be out of the ordinary. All those qualities fully match European corporate culture, which is often known for its diversification, inclusiveness, critical thinking, encouragement and openness.

What is diversification at the company level? It comes from a multifaceted culture and a comprehensive platform. Take one of our clients, a dental-product manufacturer KaVo-Sybron Dental China, which belongs to a US-owned Fortune 500 enterprise, Danaher Corporation. Their products, including all kinds of dental supplies and infection-control products, are sold in more than 100 countries all over the world.

Its personnel benefit from the company’s diversified platform. Most of KaVo-Sybron’s employees have a medical background. With a solid training system named DBS (Danaher Business System), the employees’ personal qualities are comprehensively developed in different ways, including technique, professional behaviors and creative thoughts. Each year, the Harvard Business School takes a case study from DBS.

Secondly, there is a well-designed rotation program that involves circulating employees between positions and locations. The company also maintains a good relationship with experts in the field, and employees can build up a very powerful network by participating in the salons that their employer holds dozens of times every year.

Another benefit of the diversification of company culture is inclusiveness. Many MNCs or Western companies try to understand the different characteristics of their employees and allow them to flourish. With a more inclusive corporate attitude, the company will take a very different and positive attitude toward making mistakes.

For example, in my company, we firmly believe that the only way to learn more is by making mistakes. Many people (particularly working in Western companies) believe that routinely punishing mistakes contributes to a poor culture, and instead try other approaches such as using mistakes as educational case studies. It’s worth mentioning that the discussion (and any judgment) of mistakes should be kept private, while praise for good work is public.

Should we say “good” all the time? Certainly not. People need to be critiqued, and the post-90s love it. In my experience, people in China are among the most receptive to positive criticism. According to the Horizon Group’s survey, many of the post-90s generation are frustrated and confused as they find a big disparity between practical work and their ideal job. It is therefore hard for them to concentrate on a job for a long time, and their job-hopping rate increases.

Here’s an example explaining how to act. A well-known pharmaceutical company came across a problem when it first hired a batch of graduates from the one-child generation. The company treated them very discreetly, because it was afraid the new employees would break down under pressure. Unfortunately, the new employees were found to be quite inefficient. A later survey by the company’s human-resources department found that direct criticism from their superiors was what these employees liked the most, as they believed a justified critique meant their employers cared about them.

On the other hand, we should also remember to encourage our employees. Motivation and praise promote innovation and maximize development among the post-90s. Increased positive responses let this generation understand that the enterprise accommodates them, and also increases their sense of accomplishment, pride and desire for further good performances.

Last but not least, an open attitude – a common feature of foreign companies in China – is quite precious and satisfying for employees. In my view, openness refers to three aspects. For the first one, the door to foreign companies is fairly open to everyone. Everyone can fully display his or her talent. In the office, it is unusual to refer to someone by their rank. You can surely call your boss by his or her name, and so can your colleagues. Also, many of the more progressive foreign companies have an ongoing, tailor-made training program for their staff.

Then there is the core spirit of company, which is taken as the most important thing to consider before choosing a job. Especially for those post-90s first stepping into the job market, the spirit of company decides their future career development. Once again, let’s take a look at KaVo-Sybron, which takes integrity, passion, innovation and excellence as its spirit. In this special business, integrity comes first, which attracts many graduates to the company. They’re quite people-oriented and insist on a “prior to do everything, you need firstly to be an upright person” principle. For the post-90s, who emphasize individuals and self-actualization, integrity is the most respected personal quality.

The third aspect is the performance-appraisal system. As long as you are really talented, your talents will not be neglected with this system. There are no “unspoken” rules in foreign companies. You are the chief determiner of your own performance, and of course a scientific evaluation method is also a powerful support. This is like the saying “You are your own master”.

This is regarded as the first year that the post-90s graduates will step into the workplace. If you are part of this group, how should you properly orient your career? First of all, you should find out what kind of role you wish to play on the big stage of labor. Then, you need to understand the various careers on offer to find the one that best suits you. My suggestion is that internships are quite a wise way to achieve this; there are various internship opportunities provided by foreign companies. Once you know yourself, and you know what your ideal job looks like, it’s inevitable that you will find a happy and successful workplace.

The author is the founder and managing director of RMG Selection, an international recruitment group. The views do not necessarily reflect those of China Daily.

Read the whole article: http://europe.chinadaily.com.cn/epaper/2012-09/07/content_15742179.htm

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Colorful Life Lived in Black and White – RMG CEO on China Daily

It is not easy to find Robert Parkinson’s apartment, which is carefully hidden in a cluster of recently completed compounds and winding cobble roads. And that is exactly what he was looking for: something “a little bit out of the city”.

Upper East Side, located in the East Fourth Ring Road area, is a location of choice for many expats in Beijing as it is only 15 minutes drive to the Beijing Capital International Airport and 10 minutes drive to the city’s Central Business District. Robert Parkinson is now enjoying his fourth year in the compound.

“Before we moved here from the previous company apartment, we looked at 30 to 40 places in this compound. And this is the third apartment that we have lived here,” said Parkinson, managing director of RMG Business Consulting Beijing Company.

The first impression is that the apartment is spacious. The living room, covering about 50 sq m, is divided into a dining area and a reception area. Even the kitchen, covering about 20 sq m, is big enough for a family of three to dine comfortably.

“The kitchen is very nice, and a big fridge is very important, both my girlfriend and I cook a lot. It’s a nice thing to eat healthily,” said Parkinson. “And as I am from Britain, English food is my favorite of course. And we cook every Sunday.”

The house also looks spacious because every room of the apartment – the living room, the bedroom and even the kitchen – is bright.

“It’s nice to have sun coming in. It makes sure you get up in the morning. If there is no sun, I can stay in bed all day,” laughed Parkinson. But the dcor also helps, as it is mostly black and white, a lesson that Parkinson learned the hard way from experience.

“I do quite like black and white but it is much more than that. I didn’t want to make any mistakes, and black and white are easy to get right,” said Parkinson. “I bought a house in UK and I decorated it red. And I got it really bright, just right I thought, and then in the end, it was awful and we had to redo it. So this time I thought I’d play interesting with the features but be kind of safe at the same time.”

Parkinson said that he intends to personalize the dcor by putting up pictures that he has collected from all the countries he has visited around the globe.

Although Parkinson said jokingly that the bed is his favorite part of the house, it is obvious that the young man is also very proud of the TV stand in the living room, which he is impatient to show visitors upon arrival. The TV stand is a perfect combination of bookcase and TV stand, with the TV screen incorporated in the unit so that it can slide to any position across the width of the unit.

“This is quite cool,” he said. “but it was really expensive, about 25,000 yuan. Normally I wouldn’t spend so much on a TV stand. But we saw it and we just thought we’ve got to have this, it’s so cool. You can move it around.”

Parkinson moved to China five years ago and was starting his own business. To help business grow, he did not spend too much on the refurbishment.

“When I came to China five years ago, I took over a tiny office from the company I worked for, which was then only three people there. My company has now grown it into a large business of about 120 people, with two big offices in Beijing and Shanghai and a small office in Hong Kong. The aim is have five offices in China by the end of next year,” the 31-year-old said ambitiously.

However, Parkinson, unlike many other expats, said he did not want to live anywhere else in China apart from Beijing.

“A lot of expats say they like Shanghai. But I don’t. I much prefer Beijing as a place to live. I also think Beijing is a very interesting place to bring up children, because they live such an international life. I think it teaches people a lot at a young age.”

Of course there are some things that Parkinson dislikes about Beijing such as the pollution, but he said there is much more to like.

“I like Beijing because it’s ancient. I don’t think Beijing is a perfect place, but I do see a lot of energy here.”

Read the whole article: http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/cndy/2010-04/07/content_9693536.htm

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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Winning the Talent Wars – RMG CEO Robert Parkinson on China Daily

Companies urged to innovate to retain workforce and stay competitive

Despite receiving thousands of applications every month, Mei Yang-mille has been struggling to find the right talent to occupy some key positions in her company.

Yang-mille, who runs the Chinese operation of Karl Storz, the world’s largest endoscope manufacturer, says that as a multinational company, it has no problem in attracting talented people but often finds it hard to recruit skilled and qualified personnel.

“There are people out there, but the number of ‘A class players’ seems to have got smaller,” she says. “So we have to interview lots of people until we get the right ones.”

Yang-mille says the problem has become worse as the company has expanded its operations in China to meet the growing demand for high-quality medical equipment in recent years.

Along with the booming medical device market fueled by strong demand from Chinese hospitals because of larger purchasing budgets and planned infrastructure upgrades, the German company has also had to increase its number of employees.

“There is a gap between supply and demand of qualified medical graduates and professionals,” she says. “And it is unlikely that the gap will be filled in the next five to 10 years as the medical device market is booming in China.”

Yang-mille was speaking at the company’s China headquarters in Xujiahui, the central business district of Shanghai. The company, which has about 220 employees in China, also has bases in Beijing, Shenyang, Chengdu, Guangzhou and Hong Kong.

She says the entry barrier in the medical device market is very high and graduates from the Chinese education system often cannot cope with the global standards for medical talent.

“At the entry level, the graduates we need are those on the top of the pyramid,” she says. “They should have comprehensive product knowledge and technical expertise and the capability to work with doctors and medical experts. But in China it is hard to find candidates who meet all the requirements.”

Yang-mille says many Chinese graduates are not qualified because they are good at theory but do not know how to handle projects or work in a team.

“As many of them are from one-child families, they do have weaknesses in teamwork, critical thinking and analyzing ability,” she says. “Compared with their peers in the US and Europe, Chinese graduates appear to be less mature at their age.”

Yang-mille says she was astonished to find that a college graduate brought both of her parents to a job interview because she said she needed them by her side. “I’ve never seen this before, but clearly she will never grow up under the wings of her parents.”

She admits that the good side of Chinese graduates is that they are hardworking, intelligent and willing to learn, which are the qualities needed for any industry.

Because of young graduates’ lack of experience, she says, the company needs to recruit experienced medical professionals to fill mid-to-senior-level positions.

But fierce competition as multinationals poach from each other and a limited source of professionals are causing wage inflation and high turnover.

As a result, Yang-mille says, she has to invest in people to build an early pipeline, creating a culture of coaching, welcoming job rotation and internal promotion, as well as running a talent program for top performers.

She has introduced personality assessments into the hiring process and expanded the company’s recruiting efforts beyond major universities, especially for highly skilled positions such as sales, logistics experts or technical personnel familiar with their products.

“We are quite open-minded in recruiting talent, which means we don’t care whether they are from a certain top university or a less known college, as long as they are qualified for the position,” she says, adding that they have three “I” standards to measure whether the candidate is suitable for the job – integrity, initiative and intelligence.

Of course, there is a danger that the money spent on developing talent could be lost if the employee decides to join a rival, a common problem in many emerging industries.

Yang-mille says she understands the threat well, and the company has been focusing on career development instead of relying on compensation packages, which is a good way to reduce staff turnover, but unsustainable in the long run.

“If an employee is staying in the company only because of an offer of a higher salary, he or she will eventually leave because of that,” she says. “I think the most effective way to retain professionals is to care about their career path and guarantee them that there is no glass ceiling within the company.”

Karl Storz offers a range of career development programs, such as rotating people, combined with regular assessments of employees to determine a suitable career direction.

According to a report by Business Monitor International, the Chinese medical device market is expected to expand by about 15 percent every year over the next five years, while medical device sales are forecast to reach $42.8 billion by 2019.

But a lack of qualified medical professionals may be a continuing drag on business performance in China’s medical equipment industry, says Yang-mille, who plans to increase the number of recruits 15 to 20 percent annually for the next 10 years.

“An investment in staff training and development is a company’s critical success factor,” she says.

Read the whole article: http://usa.chinadaily.com.cn/weekly/2012-08/31/content_15722773.htm

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Finding the Right Fit for Growth – RMG CEO Robert Parkinson on China Daily

Enterprises must have a balanced hiring strategy to stay ahead in China

Everyone in the sphere of professional staffing and human resources in China seems to talk endlessly about a shortage of “talent”. Indeed it seems that this problem is an assumed consequence of a fast developing economy. However, it is simply not true that China lacks talent.

According to thefreedictionary.com, talent means “A person or group of people having natural endowment or ability of a superior quality”. Therefore, when we use the word talent in the context of the general employment market in China, I think what people mean about a “lack of talent” is a lack of workforce engagement exemplified by:

A generation of particularly highly skilled employees who are spoiled for choice and not afraid to show it;

A general trend in the labor force toward uncontrolled and unjustified increasing compensation;

A lack of sense of loyalty to companies

So I would prefer to redefine this group more accurately as a group that is short of motivation, not talent.

When we look at what talent actually means, the key is having skills or experience of a superior quality. China has a huge population of 1.3 billion and has been successful in educating those people. There is no dearth of Chinese “talent” seeking admission to the Ivy League and other top European educational institutions. There has also been a steady flow of Chinese professionals from abroad to the mainland in the last seven years. Most of them are highly educated professionals, in other words real “talent”.

So, combining the huge number of home-grown Chinese graduates with returnees, together with the millions of blue-collar employees who are highly skilled, I find it hard indeed to believe that China lacks talent.

In fact, the case is that China has not yet had the time to properly understood how to manage, motivate and retain the human resources it does abundantly possess. The problems of the  enterprises are not that they lack “talent”, it is that:

They do not know how to retain employees;

There is a lack of engagement in the work;

The preoccupation with the belief that money motivates;

The lack of leadership experience within different corporate hierarchies;

Obsession with status

The true talent for a company is those who best fit the corporate culture and values rather than those who are simply the “smartest” or best-educated. Those who fit the company best means that their skills, knowledge and vision are in accordance with that of the company. For a company to produce and retain as many of these types of staff as possible, it can take measures such as good quality new employee training and induction, leadership training, apprenticeship programs and a focus on “good” corporate culture, etc. These actions will help the company create highly engaged, highly motivated employees.

Companies need to think seriously about how to keep employees, otherwise there is no point in hiring them in the first place. All of the actions and systems need to be based on the fundamental point that it is important you select the right person.

Based on my eight years of experience in China, I have found that there are some key factors needed to transform the existing workforce into one that is highly motivated and engaged and also to retain talent.

1. Money just cannot be the only reason for people to join a company. It is important to understand what it is that really drives new hiring and if it is just money not to proceed with it.

2. Use a fair and clear salary scale.

3. The perceived value of the total pay package is important. Load it with other incentives such as overseas trips, teambuilding nights or recognition systems.

4. A manager should spend more time with new people and know their needs.

5. Once you account for the overall costs, you will understand the necessity to have a well thought-out hiring process.

6. Be aware of the non-verbal communication in hiring and induction process and pay attention to the body language.

7. Trust your instincts.

8. Pay them enough.

Enterprises that are most successful in China today have a good culture, focus on matching values and people rather than obsessing with people’s experience and education. Most importantly, the employers seriously believe in a long-term approach to business.

The author is the founder and managing director of RMG Selection, a recruitment consulting company based in Beijing.

Read the whole article: http://usa.chinadaily.com.cn/weekly/2012-08/31/content_15722774.htm

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