I have Always believed that HR as a function has evolved phenomenally in last one decade. It has moved from Support corner box to Key player role, raced from support to the influencing mindset. As a function, it has been instrumental in impacting culture not only in Domestic MNCs but also in Western and other Asian MNCs.
With the economic changes, a new challenge is coming up. The global economy is now shifting towards the “ Dragon-led economy” and undoubtedly many of them (Chinese Enterprises) are expanding. There is a visible presence of Dragon organizations and products in many parts of the globe. These enterprises are expanding with due eco-system supporting them. They are expanding under the structured organized expansion plan, which has unflinching support of Government as well as Society. These enterprises are present in all facets of economy ie; Telecom, Infrastructure, Steel, IT, Finance , Retail, and even in our day to day life.
The growth and evolution of Indian People Management system has been due to its very own rich history. Culturally as a country we are “ sensitive” with deeper “human values”. Human Resource is not new for our country. The essence of it can be found even in as old as Ramayana period. One can find loads of such management examples in our old history. One such example of L&D can be found "When Lanka was to be invaded Lord Rama trained monkeys".
If we analyse it from the people perspective, then one can see a complete end-to-end cycle in it - for e.g invading Lanka was Business; Constructing Bridge over Sea was Need. Competency mapping and identifying talent were the activities of "recruiting monkeys”.
Lately, with the advent of multi-cultural interactions due to economic and political reasons, Indian people management processes and thought systems got influenced by Western systems. Not to forget, we were ruled for a very long time under British as well as French, which has strong influence on our People Management thoughts and processes.
In Twentieth and Twenty-first century one can find mutual western influence in our People Management and Business ideologies. They had been part of the organizations with major liberal western management style or Asian style. The management practices are matured, time tested and influenced by OPEN culture. And till date it had been playing an extremely critical role.
While the Chinese organizations are growing phenomenally they are led mostly by Chinese Leaders at the helm of the affairs. It is culturally different country which has opened up in last two decades only (effectively in the last decade) and probably “THIS IS” the biggest differentiator. Human Resources is a “Science of People”, it’s a subject revolving a lot around culture of the organization. It is rightly stated that while Technology can be upgraded with R&D interventions, and Finances can be pumped in through banking system, the Culture development takes its own course of sweet time.
HR as well as Management has to gear up to embrace these new changes and effectively integrate this new economy to the benefit of the organization as well as People.
Few of the challenges which are foreseen and can be looked into:
Language: With very new economy and China still being a 'politically-closed country', the language is a major concern. Mandarin is a majorly used language with very few people communicating effectively in good English. Though new generation is focusing towards learning the common spoken language of English but still the old economy leaders are not yet fully conversant with this language. And it’s a big barrier.
Solution: It’s an opportunity we HR Folks to be proactively “ develop a fast language integration courses” in the industry to address it. Industry and Academia need to come forward with a "CUSTOMISED LANGUAGE PROGRAMMES ” with different level of proficiency expertise eg from Basic to Expert level both in English and Chinese. It will throw options to people to choose as per their need. But the call of the day is Faster the Better.
Cadre based Social Structure of Cadre: As a country it is cadre sensitive which is very different than the many western or Indian social system. The importance of seniority and belief in “commanding culture” will be a serious challenge for employees who are used to “Open Culture” of communication and discussion. The cadre culture discourages “Discussion and Debates” with senior cadre employees / people, as disagreement could lead to someone loosing face. While it’s a long mindset issue and slowly though is changing but STILL a there is a long way to go. The open culture with freedom of discussion is still a new thing for most of them. We are not debating here on its merit or demerit of it but it’s a fact as it will impact the “ Working environment ”.
Discipline Comes First: As a citizen and human being the discipline is a very strong point for them. Attendance, Time-in and Time-out are major focus areas in the culture. It is also due to their political culture of communism. This philosophy is bound to throw a challenge to industries like KPO, RPO, IT, Call Centres, where “Flexibility” is part and parcel of work ethics and culture.
The thrust on 'On-time reporting, No work-from-Home-kind' are few examples. Work-Life Balance is still far off in this environment!
Another interesting aspect of the culture of management is “ Conservative Communication”. Unlike most old economy countries where the Leaders lead from the front and take it is moral responsibility in communicating , on the other hand Chinese Leaders are by nature conservative. Culturally they are task oriented and focus more on work.
While till now most of the Chinese organizations were focusing on production and manufacturing aspect and expanding to other countries, the concern and need of communication was not too prominent. But with expansion of business in competitive world, the need for people management is arising. People need communication irrespective of it be Good, Bad or Ugly ! The communication aspect does not limit only upto “ top down” but the need is arising for “ bottoms up” aspect also.
Another critical aspect which the HR experts need to focus on is “ Organization Structuring , and Capability building”. While undoubtedly the R&D, and Technical expertise of China is great and exemplary, their management competency still needs to be proven in the International arena. Unlike other economies there is still dearth of examples in this aspect and the concept of management competency still remains a Relatively “ un explored “ subject. Needless to mention that while China has an advantage of having highest population, thus it naturally becomes a case of “availability of number in abundance”. In such a scenario with “ availability of huge manpower number , the organization structuring mindset is little different than others. The focus on “ efficiency based organization structure” needs to be slowly seeped into.
Solution: The Competency aspect needs to be assessed.
It would a good interesting exercise to create two kinds of assessments models. One model will assess the organization competency for overseas market and another one for Domestic market.
Silo Management: With the influence of above factors most of the chances of “localization” is lower. Most of the critical positions are being handled by Chinese citizens only. This will post some operational challenge. This also is a reflection of “Fear and Trust deficit”. It is very natural for any economy which is still growing and would prefer to protect themselves from external influences till they settle down.
Solution: The best option for them current scenario is to have a balance between Akbar and Aurangzeb localization philosophy of Akbar and Aurangzeb. In Mughal history, these two emperors are known for their “Secularism and Anti-secularism” towards Hindus. Ironically while Aurangzeb is known to be anti-Hindus had incidentally local Hindu soldiers in his army but most of them were in the level of frontline Soldiers . He had zero representation of Hindus in his top management or Ministry. On the other hand Akbar his great grandfather is an historical icon for Secularism. His army had lesser Hindus in ratio, but his top team had good representation of Hindus like Raja Maan Singh, Birbal, Tansen etc. This gave a very positive image of his Secularism. In this case we will read is as Localization/ Globalization. It is also a good case to review it from Empowerment perspective. With such low number but “ Right Roles” and Right empowerment to Hindus Akbar created a very strong empire which has many success stories of innovative practices. This gives a good case to HR to drive building an organization culture based on trust and mutual benefit. The role of HR becomes critical to create an environment which is based on “ empowerment, trust, and performance metrics based to be a win-win situation for both.
This gives a good case to HR to drive building an organization culture based on trust and mutual benefit. The role of HR becomes critical to create an environment which is based on empowerment, trust, and performance metrics based to be win-win situation for both.