All expats who have managed a team in Asia know it: implementing feedback processes in Asia is very hard. People simply aren’t used to receiving feedback on an individual basis. If you do try to implement a process, then it happens on a regular basis that either people feel like they are losing face, or that they give each other only positive feedback, without addressing negative aspects at all.
So how do we ensure that our Asian colleagues appreciate criticism?
We all know that the tendency among Asian cultures is to be group-oriented, as opposed to individualism. The argument that criticism leads to self-improvement is therefore often not relatable among people with a traditional mind-set. What we can focus on, however, is the idea that as a competent member of the group, one’s contribution to the group performance is increasing, too.
The tool I am proposing is a mixture between the start, stop, continue model and a 360-degree feedback system. Set up a system in the Intranet in which every team member is asked to apply the start, stop, continue model to give feedback to every other team member on a monthly basis. The system should automatically be triggered when the employee opens the Intranet, and entry fields for each of the three points (start, stop, continue) should pop up for every team member. This ensures that the feedback system is used on a regular basis. Next, based on the feedback each individual team member has received, he or she should then identify personal improvement priorities to work on during that month.
A performance appraisal system which is implemented every now and again is unlikely to lead to any real improvement if it is not worked upon. With the system I am proposing, there is the necessary level of anonymity involved, so that colleagues do not feel uncomfortable to give and receive feedback. At the same time, since the system involves monthly feedback, and allows for the setting of clear priorities, employees are able to get a clear picture of what their strengths and weaknesses are, and what they need to improve on.
In addition to providing feedback to each team member, each person should also use to start, stop, continue model to assess the performance of the team as a whole. What should we start doing? What should we stop doing? What should we continue doing? As a group, you can then take 15 to 20 minutes to review these suggestions for the group improvement, and set priorities to work on for the team as a whole.