Nowadays, more and more global companies come to China and recruit Chinese staff to work. They hope the local people help the company enter into Chinese market quickly but sometimes they ignore the culture conflict between the foreign boss and local staff. I’d like to give some advice to these foreign supervisors and hope it is useful for them. Whoever just comes to China, he or she should know Chinese culture first, especially the Confucian culture.
Chinese people believe the doctrine of mean and harmony. This culture is in the blood of Chinese even they don’t recognize it. There is an interesting story, say, when the foreign boss asked the Chinese staff the option of the project, everyone said nothing. Boss thought they agreed with it. However, when the project was implemented, many staff has different thinking. Maybe this story is a little bit extreme, but it reflects the habit of most Chinese people. When the foreign supervisors understand this culture, they could know how to communicate about Chinese staff.
On the other hand, Chinese concern about the mianzi most. So if the supervisorcriticize the subordinates in public, the subordinates may feel lose face. It is a very negative motivation and will give them the very bad feelings. These feeling may affect the following work and decrease their efficiency and working effectiveness. So foreigners should know Chinese mianzi notion, it is useful for them to manage and encourage the staff.
I didn’t work in the foreign company but before I have worked with a foreigner for a while. And during my MBA study, I contact with some foreigners and we talked about these culture. This essay is done based on these experiences.
About the author
Katrina CHEN Jiayi is an international MBA student in Lingnan (University) College at Sun Yat-sen University.