Comparing management experiences in US, China, and India

 

I have been working in China for last 18 months or so, with one of the largest software MNC here. During this period, I have (very briefly, 3 months) been an individual contributor and rest of time I have been a people manager. Having been a people manager in India and US in the past, I now have the perspective on managing people in 3 biggest economies of the world! Given this, let me share some comparisons and contrasts across these three countries.

Commonalities

  1. Effective people management requires customization to individual needs – Some individuals require you to be very direct and brutal in communication and feedback, others need you to be softer in your message and be more sensitive to their emotional needs. This variation occurs in all teams in all countries and I couldn’t find any pattern of cultural or geographical preferences; an effective manager needs to be adaptable and have a set of styles to suit individuals reporting to him/her.
  2. Career growth and development is #1 concern for everyone – Most of the concerns and problems I have faced over last 8-9 years across these 3 countries can be traced to concerns and insecurities around where the career is going and whether they control their own career. Sometimes it has required effort to figure the root cause out, and some other times it has been masked by the skills requirements and weaknesses of individuals, but a focus on career topics have helped a large number of 1-1 I have had over this time. Continue reading

What do leaders/managers give to organizations?

This is performance review time, and naturally I am thinking about what I have done over the past year as a leader/manager to warrant any reward. It is always hard to figure this out, because all the work is done by an Individual Contributor, and so it is hard to be objective when evaluating the performance of a lead/manager.

Here are some values I believe a lead/manager provides to the organization and should be used for performance measurements:

  1. Judgment – Take difficult decisions even with incomplete information
  2. Mentoring and Coaching – develop better Individual Contributors, new leaders and managers
  3. Vision –Provide roadmap (new or interpretation of existing one) to employees, both for personal growth as well as for organizational growth (employees need both), do long term thinking
  4. Change Agent – Change is very hard, leaders/managers need to be the change agent by figuring out when a change is needed, as well as ways of successfully implementing change while continuing to show results
  5. Role model – Leaders are what employees want to be, and hence their behavior is closely watched and often emulated by others. As such they need to reflect right organization culture and values at all times. Continue reading