跨国公司在中国的挑战(二) / MNCs in China Face Big Challenges (Part Two)

跨国公司在中国的挑战(二)

大公司组织结构复杂,企业文化也风格各异,在此工作往往你要花点时间才能熟悉这一切。其中细微之处,如果经理人不能很好地领会,就难以在组织中游刃有余,也无法高效地完成工作。

在公司管理层的进阶之路上,各种工作关系逐渐生成,这个过程至关重要。虽然“关系”一词在中国通常有特殊含义,但在职场内外搭建关系的重要性放诸四海而皆准。无论你在哪儿工作,如果你是外来者或外国人,想要建立起职场关系都会有点难。这需要具备人际交往、沟通的技巧、团队合作精神和快速适应环境的能力。

理想状态下,一位高效的领导者当然应该精通某一行业所需的专业知识,还要具备出任某一管理岗位所需的特殊技能。

所以,我们所谈论的知识和技能必然是广泛的,既不可能一朝学会,也不可能只从书本和课堂中得来。

跨国企业在中国等市场中所面临的窘境就是需要高层管理人员拥有上述全部能力,同时他们还要具备在中国生活和工作的知识、技能与经验。简单地说,目前具备上述全部特质的人只能满足极小部分的需求。

最近从内地输入的大批MBA和其他海外大学毕业生对缓解现状有所帮助,但他们相对缺乏在跨国公司总部工作的经验和人脉。跨国公司的人力资源部门也注意到他们在责任感、团队合作和创新方面表现得相对较弱。

跨国企业,特别是美国公司在全球经营中也要遵循美国本土的法律法规,如《反海外腐败法》和《Sarbanes-Oxley法案》的指引和的限制。再加上不同国别和企业文化的差异,就让跨国公司的工作环境以人们喜欢或不喜欢的方式令大多数中国人觉得更加复杂。

有了这样、那样的原因,也就难怪最近五年会出现颠覆性的变化,许多中国顶尖的青年才俊变得更愿意去中国企业工作,其中也包括国企。而此前15年,跨国企业才是择业的终极梦想。

我并不羡慕跨国企业人事经理或顾问此时此刻在中国面临的挑战。现在,对人才的招聘和保留本来就处于你死我活、竞争激烈的状态。

除了在招聘、雇佣、培训和挽留人才方面困难重重,目前中国突现的其他人力资源问题也比别国要多。

一位跨国公司的中国CEO告诉我,他所在的公司初到中国时,经过一番慎重的考察,将中国总部设在了上海。最初他们以为这一选择绝对正确,因为大家都知道上海的经商优势众多,而且当地的青年人才供应充足。

可是时光流转到了今天,这位CEO说他们发现一个始料未及的大问题。现在,中国的3、4、5线城市正成为炙手可热的新兴市场,他的公司和其他许多跨国公司都忙着组建地区分部,好为公司在这些城市不断增长的业务提供支持。

他的公司就计划成立五个地区分部。由于在上海已扎根多年,公司已培养出一支精明强干的队伍,其中很多人都能胜任新设分部的地区经理职务。

但有一个意想不到的问题:没有一位上海籍管理人员对外派到成都等内陆城市感兴趣。这位CEO说他们也曾预料到无论在哪座城市,都不见得每位经理会乐意接受外派,但上海同事的反应之强烈远远超出了他们的预期。

只能从头再来了!吃一堑长一智……

MNCs in China Face Big Challenges (Part Two)

Large corporations are complex organizations, with distinctive corporate cultures and styles, each of which takes time on the job to become familiar with. Failure to grasp the nuances of such things can render a manager unable to navigate and operate within the organization, unable to get the job done effectively.

In the process of moving upwards within the ranks of a company’s management, work relationships are formed, which are crucial. “Guanxi” has a particular meaning in China, but the importance of forging relationships in and around the workplace is universal. Wherever you work, this is more challenging if you are an outsider, or a foreigner. It calls for people skills, communication skills, an aptitude for teamwork, and flexibility.

The ideal mix for an effective leader will of course also include the specialized knowledge required of any given industry or profession, as well as the specific knowledge required to perform any given managerial level position.

We’re therefore talking about an extensive collection of skills and knowledge which cannot be quickly acquired, and is certainly not accessible purely through textbooks and classroom experience alone.

The dilemma which MNCs face in markets like China is that they really need top executives with all of the above, plus knowledge, skills and experience of living and working in China. Simply put, the universe of people with all of the above attributes amounts to a small fraction of the current demand.

The flow of recent MBAs and other overseas graduates who hail from the mainland helps; but they are relatively lacking in MNC head office working experience and relationships. MNC HR folks also observe they are often relatively weak in attitudes relating to accountability, teamwork, and innovation.

MNCs, especially from the U.S., also have guidelines and constraints which arise from U.S. laws and regulations which apply to their operations globally, such as the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act, and Sarbanes Oxley. These, plus different national and corporate cultural environments, make MNCs a more complicated work environment for most Chinese – in ways which some may like, but others may not.

So it’s no wonder that for these and other reasons there has been a sea change in the past five years, whereby many of China’s best and brightest young talents now prefer to go to work for Chinese companies, including State-owned Enterprises (SOEs). For the previous 15 years or so, MNCs offered the dream jobs.

I don’t envy the challenges of MNC HR managers or their consultants at this point in time in China. It’s a dog-eat-dog, tough competitive hiring and retention environment out there.

Apart from the challenge of recruiting, hiring, training and retaining the right talent, there are other HR issues which crop up in China more so than in other markets.

One MNC China CEO told the story of how their company chose Shanghai as their China HQ when they first came into the market, after a careful review of the alternatives. Initially they were confident they had made the right choice, because of the many commercial advantages which Shanghai is well known for, as well as its abundant supply of bright young Shanghainese talent.

Scroll forward to the present, however, and the CEO described a big problem which they had not foreseen. Now that China’s 3rd, 4th and 5th tier cities are the hot new emerging markets, his company and many other MNCs are restructuring into regional branch offices to support the growth of their business in these cities.

In his company’s case, they envisioned forming five regional offices. Having been based in Shanghai for some years, they had trained and developed a solid talent pool in their office there, many of whom were qualified to be regional managers in the newly expanded structure.

However, there was one unanticipated problem: virtually none of their Shanghainese managers were the least bit interested in living in Chengdu, for example, or other inland Chinese cities. The CEO said that they had expected that just as in any city, not all managers want to transfer to another city; but the extent of this reaction in Shanghai was far stronger than they had anticipated.

Back to the drawing board! Lesson learned…


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