Despite the fact that the statistics show that Chinese companies have slowed down their rate of international growth through acquisition, we are finding ourselves more and more engaged by Western companies who suddenly find themselves reporting into a Chinese parent company.
These newly acquired companies are asking us to run China Cultural Awareness training programmes with their senior leadership teams in order to help them better understand the best ways of persuading and influencing in China. The challenge these leadership teams often face is that they want to be able to convince their parent company to accept a buisness strategy which, through Chinese eyes, might seem confusing or risky. They need to know what ‘hot buttons’ to push in China.
These programmes are usually seen as part eye-opener and part validation. We get lots of ‘ah, so that’s why they did that in the meeting’ type of comments and ‘that confirms what I thought but I wasn’t quite sure’ moments.
Having spent time with the leadership team, we are then usually asked to cascade the training through the company to those people in the different functions who will have regular ongoing contact with China. These sessions tend to focus on the practicalities of day-to-day interactions (information flow, working with a hierarchy, effective communication etc.).
I honestly believe that a few hours of well structured, practical cultural awareness training can give people skills and knowledge it might otherwise take them years to learn.