Lesson 9: Accommodate your introverts
By nature, IT managers doing business in China become experts in coaxing insight from reticent employees, because introverts abound. Chinese students are typically not encouraged to speak up in class, and that behavior can carry over to the workplace. Dealing with shy staff and getting clear answers requires a little more effort in China, says Dow's Deudon. Western managers hoping to elicit staff feedback in an open meeting often end up disappointed, he says.
"It's very difficult to get an open and direct discussion at a roundtable meeting," Deudon says. "People tend to keep quiet about their ideas." Good managers instead set up private one-to-one discussions and small conversations to collect feedback and solicit input.
It's a lesson domestic tech managers may want to keep in mind as IT departments in the United States move toward open-office setups and team-based collaborative projects that can overwhelm introverts.
Lesson 10: Adopt a global outlook
IT in China benefits from a workforce that is ambitious and eager to learn about the rest of the world.
"They are not stuck in their ways," says Matson's Weis. Because foreign-invested firms are the rule rather than the exception, employees "are aware of what it means to work for an international entity. That global outlook is something that American companies should try to tap into," he says.
That's not just nice to have, it's actually good for the bottom line. A December, 2013 Harvard Business School study found that employees at companies with diverse staff were 45% likelier to report that their firm's market share grew over the previous year and 70% likelier to report that the firm captured a new market.
IT managers can broaden the outlook of their workforce through their hiring practices. "Look for people who have international experience," says Weis, adding that he looks for cultural and ethnic diversity in the people he hires.
"Look for people with cultural experience who, ideally, speak multiple languages," he says. "Look for skills beyond just technology."
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