Asians, especially the Chinese, can be very ambitious. They are always eager to progress in their career. If you don’t live up to their expectations, if they don’t make any progress within your company, they will go elsewhere and get it. But if you make them feel home and provide them with the training and the opportunities for growth they want, they will stick with you.
For Asians, their colleagues are their family. The best way to keep turnover rates in Asia low is to make sure that your colleagues feel like they are part of a family. And that includes acting like one. I just quickly googled what families do. Here a few things I got from my “research” in five minutes:
- Every member chooses to be part of the family
- Family members get out of their way for each other
- Families stick through thick and thin
- Everyone takes responsibility for them themselves and other family members
- Patience and forgiveness are practiced daily
Yeah, I know. Listing up these things was unnecessary. We all know what it means to be a family. I only meant this to be a quick reminder for you how your Asian employees expect you to be treated. Do this – and do it sincerely – and you will have the most loyal employees you can ever imagine. Who would leave his family, after all?
You have a very special responsibility to make that happen. As an expat, I am sure you are in a leadership position. That makes you your employee’s “father” (or mother). Your colleagues will expect you to help them solve their problems, be they professional or private, to be their mentor and teacher, to give them advice and, of course, to have a good time with them. Don’t forget their birthday – celebrate with them. Asians love to celebrate with their colleagues. It’s family, remember?
All of this makes it even more important that you become familiar with the local culture. Remember, you need to have a good relationship with your colleagues. You need to know how to treat them, you need to know what makes Asians lose face, because if you don’t…well… then you have already lost them. This also means that you have to be very careful in terms of firing. It means that you are kicking somebody out of the family.
If the other employees liked him and respected him as their superior, then they will definitely react in some way…. and not a positive one. They might loose motivation, reject their new boss, or even leave the company out of loyalty to the man they respect. Be careful! You might up end up having to rebuild a whole department.
Finally I encourage you guys to discuss. What are your experiences dealing with Asian colleagues? Did you embrace them as your family – how did they react? What problems did you face with employees who did not perform well – how did you deal with the situation?