Turtles and Rednecks

On Turtles and Rednecks… Ray Zhang, from Pepsi China, is quoted in a recent article on the ERE site (follow the link in the title:) “Zhang, speaking at what has been billed as the first-ever U.S.-based conference on HR in China, describes the Chinese workforce as belonging to two groups: "turtles" and "rednecks." Turtles are returnees from education abroad; about a million Chinese have gone abroad for education in the last 30 years, and only 30% have come home. The advantages of hiring turtles, he says, are their communication skills, thinking and problem-solving skills, their international view, and their understanding of different cultures. They tend to have strong presentation skills and "high social maturity." Chinese managers used to "blindly worship the turtles," he says, but have since come to their senses. “ The article is worth a read and I am happy to see someone addressing the cultural implications of hiring a returning Chinese candidate as I have too often seen this fail. I see companies hire candidates based on their language skills and interviewing skills too many times be unhappy with the performance of those same candidates that dazzled them in the interview process. In roles where local knowledge is indispensable, Sales/Marketing especially, I caution my clients to pay close attention to the candidates past performance in the market. Local market skills are more easily transferred from one industry to another; sportswear to cosmetics, for example, than are cultural skills. Our firm, while working across all of Asia, still maintains a deep, local market focus on our searches to ensure we get the best candidates for the job. I see this problem growing in our China market as more and more multinationals come to play and hope we can avoid making the same mistakes made by those who came before us.