Wednesday, August 13, 2014

An HR Surprise in Shanghai

I have just returned from Shanghai, China a trip of a lifetime.  Ed Nangle sand I had the honor of delivering our workshop,  "Moving HR from Transactional to Strategic: Becoming an Effective HR Business Leader" to approximately 16 top HR leaders from multi-nationals companies with operations in Shanghai and Beijing.  

I didn't know what to expect when I arrived for our first day of class.  I was definitely nervous.  "How was the language barrier going to play out?"  "Will our HR best practices translate well?"  "Does their political and governmental situation impact the way they do HR?"

Well, language was not an issue, matter of fact I had one attendee say "Bless your heart" to me.  Also, since the firms are multi-national firms, they employ best practices in HR form the US, Germany, Great Britain, etc.  Even though China is a communist country they have some of the same legal implications as we do regarding contracts and overtime for example.

What I thought was fascinating were the similarities faced by HR professionals in China and the US.  When we asked what their top issues were they sited:
  1. Talent shortage (skills)
  2. Employee productivity (getting more with less)
  3. Employee engagement
  4. How to demonstrate HR's value to the organization
Do those sound familiar?  

What was even more interesting is that HR is a relatively new discipline for these companies.  It's maybe 15 years old.  But, what they have learned and absorbed in those 15 years is phenomenal when I think of where we are in the USA after having an HR discipline for 100 years.  

I have never seen a group who wanted to stay AFTER class to chat and ask questions.  We gave them a choice of 3 assignments to compete upon our return in September.  Most of them wanted to do all of them not just one.  Their thirst for HR knowledge was so refreshing.  

I believe the Chinese HR professionals will make great strides in HR.  They have and the advantage of lessons learned and what not to do.  SO, they are taking that knowledge and building on that.  So their attitude is not one of "why aren't we valued" and more of "I'll prove our value."

I think we could use a little bit of the latter in the US!