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Books on managing staff in Asia as an expat

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monkey
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Books on managing staff in Asia as an expat

Postby monkey » Thu, 13 Sep 2007 10:42 pm

I'm looking for a couple of good books on managing staff in Asia as an expat manager or in other words, i'm looking for information on cross cultural management.

My local Waterstones has'nt revealed anything useful.

On a recent trip to Asia I came across several books but I did'nt jot down their name and ISBN numbers.

Thanks

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sundaymorningstaple
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Postby sundaymorningstaple » Thu, 13 Sep 2007 11:54 pm

Just leave a rotan leaning against the wall slightly to the right and behind the chair of your office desk. Works every time. :P

Seriously, the biggest problem you will have is getting them to open up to you so you can actually manage as opposed to 'firefighting' after whatever issue comes to a head without you even being aware it was building up. Sometimes you really need to be part psychic or the ability to hear what wasn't being said. No different than in the west except more so.

edited for spelling
Last edited by sundaymorningstaple on Fri, 14 Sep 2007 6:22 pm, edited 2 times in total.

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Strong Eagle
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Postby Strong Eagle » Fri, 14 Sep 2007 7:24 am

The only book I have ever seen near the subject is called, "Working with the Thais" which my wife picked up while doing a project in Bangkok.

There is nothing complex about successfully working within the Asian environment. There are a few things that you need to be aware of to make life smoother.

a) Face (and losing it). Although none of us likes to be put down or shown we are wrong the concept of "losing face" is strong in Asia. Thus, whereas in the US or Europe you would simply confront an employee with an issue, to do so here risks having your employee simply clam up, refuse to participate, or refuse to take direction from you.

Instead, issues must be addressed as though both of you are third parties. Instead of saying, "Did you miss that deadline?", you approach it as in, "Hmmm, this status report indicates that a deadline has been missed. Do you have any idea what happened?"

b) The expat "myth of superiority". Many Asians will look to you as a business god, especially if you are getting a little gray in your hair. This tends to make them defer to you on all decsisions; hence you get little out of your team.

The key is to start early and re-inforce the idea that you are only one more team member. Example: I start every new project by telling them that they know a lot more about how things work, that I am there to help them to their job, and that I need their expertise. The whole idea is to get myself down off the pedestal that they have put me on so we can work as a team without articifical divisions.

c) Expat arrogance: There is a lot of it. You walk in with the idea that you know how things work, what is right, how things should be done. You throw your weight around. You'll quickly develop a reputation as a jerk and a**hole and you will find that you will have little cooperation. This characteristic will guarantee that no one will tell you what is going on.

The key is to empathize, to listen, to understand the foreign culture into which you have entered. People are actually very much alike around the world... they have families, loves, goals, aspirations, good days, bad days. Don't make the mistake of assuming they are different because they are of a different race or culture. Yes, the way people react to situations is part of cultural but underlying they are only people, and if you have previously engaged in good working relationships with your non Asian staff, you already know what I am talking about.

d) Racism and bigotry - Of course if this is you, you shouldn't even be here but I am talking about the other way around. There are a minority of people who will resent the fact that you are around. There are those that think "ang mo's" are stealing jobs. There are those with a chip on their shoulder (and a superior attitude) who will smile to your face while plunging a knife in your back. There are those who hold to a culture that their race is simply superior (as it is to all races). You get subtle snubs, never included, never invited.

e) Get used to it - Things just get done in different ways at different rates of speed. Attitudes about work and what it is differ. Just because you find work to be great fun, a focus of your life, and a way to get ahead, does not mean you find that everywhere and in everyone. Thus, you must set your expectations of "when" depending upon where you are working. You must be prepared to handle quality issues, both because of lower skill sets and because, it just doesn't matter as much to them as it does to you.

My advice: Get started, jump in, both eyes open. Listen. Learn. If you already have an empathic management style you wil do fine. If you are brusque, arrogant, and superior, you're doomed no matter what you do.

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Postby Plavt » Fri, 14 Sep 2007 2:58 pm

Strong Eagle wrote: People are actually very much alike around the world... they have families, loves, goals, aspirations, good days, bad days. Don't make the mistake of assuming they are different because they are of a different race or culture.



Therein lies a problem which doubtless occurs time and time again; a foreigner too often looks at the superficial differences of a country, race or culture and takes them to be fundamental.

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Postby Superglide » Fri, 14 Sep 2007 5:30 pm

Plavt wrote:
Strong Eagle wrote: People are actually very much alike around the world... they have families, loves, goals, aspirations, good days, bad days. Don't make the mistake of assuming they are different because they are of a different race or culture.



Therein lies a problem which doubtless occurs time and time again; a foreigner too often looks at the superficial differences of a country, race or culture and takes them to be fundamental.


Agree, Just like thinking in Thailand actually people would smile because a marketing slogan says so, quite silly, right?

Strong eagle, very well done...

Write a book about it and for sure, it will sell!
If only we could pull out our brain and use only our eyes.
Pablo Picasso

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Postby luxiana » Wed, 26 Sep 2007 5:30 pm

sundaymorningstaple wrote:Just leave a rotan leaning against the wall slightly to the right and behind the chair of your office desk. Works every time. :P

edited for spelling



HAHAAHHAAH

I was thinking of a whip when I first saw the question. I have to adapt to the local culture! ;)
my website: free online game


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