Winning the Talent War in China

The McKinsey Quarterly recently published an interview with Emmanuel Hemmerle, a principal with Heidrick & Struggles, on Winning the Talent War in China. It had some great information for those multi-nationals who are looking to expand into China or who are having problems finding the top level talent they need.

It had a number of good points that you should not miss. These include:

  • Top Talent is NOT Cheaper in China
    Packages for top talent — with experience, skill sets and responsibility equal to their counterparts in Europe and the US — are often higher.
  • Strong and Weak Performers Have to be Differentiated
    Failure to do so will seem unfair and may lead to resentment.
  • You Will Need to Invest In China
    In some areas, the market economy is quite new, like luxury goods which really started ten years ago. Senior talent just isn’t available. You have to instead look for rising talent and take them the rest of the way yourself.
  • Talent in China Looks for Careers
    They are very sophisticated and, like their American and European counterparts, are looking at the long term impact of any offer on their career.
  • You Need to Localize
    A majority of the management team of the China operation should be mainland Chinese as this supports localization by showing that you see them as your equals, which they are if you have sought out and hired their top talent. (With a population that is more than four times that of the US, they have four times as many geniuses. Remember that.)
  • You Need to Seek Out the Best
    You should not only know who your top competitors are, but who their top people are and try to recruit them. Even if you don’t get your first choices, it shows your commitment to identifying and hiring the best talent.
  • You Need to Embrace the Culture
    You need to provide them with an environment that is attractive to them. This will include the fostering of a relatively non-hierarchical environment with growth opportunities for each individual, opportunities for each individual to get promoted to the top, and socially responsible activities.

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