A change is underway.
There is a shift to ever-increasing daily interactions for local western teams directly with Korean HQs via the web and phone conference. This leads to a need for deeper practical Korea facing business insights for “working within the Culture” along with new skill sets.
For decades, the expatriate, Executive Coordinator / Advisor model, has been effective although it had limitations. That said, Koreans assigned as expatriates do learn local norms and adapt to the market well over time.
This means the Coordinators mold to local operations with little need for the local teams to become skilled in Korea workplace norms.
In contrast today with many in direct contact with Korea-based teams a new level of understanding is needed into the HQ and company norms. In particular, Korea teams, unless having been previously worked outside Korea, are not likely to model after or adapt to their overseas subsidiaries.
So what are the common issues and if any the workarounds?
Noting there are many, but as one example, perhaps the most common issue we find in day-to-day direct Korean team interactions is requests for local market data and information. This adds considerable workload to local teams—already stretched thin with projects and deadlines.
Often these can also come at end of day for the western team (a new day and morning for the Korea-based team). Compounding the situation is often the local team member is an hourly employee working a shift with no flexibility to stay after their scheduled work hours and able follow up immediately on the request.
A gap in workplace culture occurs when in Korea a request may require them to stay late into the evening and even over-night to fulfill—most seeing this as just part of the job—like it or not.
Frankly, I’ve found it always more a matter of relationship building over a process or tactic in workarounds. The stronger the ties, the most flexibility in dealing with pressing issues.
In this particular case and dealing with the urgent request, I have found best to clarify exactly when the data or information is actually due. Not all projects despite the tone of the request are needed ASAP.
Many can wait especially when building upon one’s strong ties and sharing colleague to colleague 1) it will be a top priority, and 2) when they can expect to receive the follow-up answer.
All said, I find that each situation requires drilling deeper to truly grasp and provide solid resolution….
Question, comments, thoughts…
Stacey, email@example.com, my assistant can schedule us a time to meet, or chat by phone. For urgent matters, Text me at 310-866-3777