Year-end Promotions, Re-structuring, and New Assignments: Korea's Corporate Culture 2016
Year-end organization wide promotions, re-structuring, and new assignments for teams are part of Korean corporate culture. Top to bottom within Korean companies they occurs sometime between early December and early January, with the changes to senior leadership happening first, and team level changes as a norm made known the week just before or between Christmas and New Year's Day.
After the Holidays, teams then report back to work. Some assume new roles frequently in departments they have little experience--requiring employees to acquire new skills--sink or swim. Meanwhile others are en-route to assignments in overseas operations; a challenge for those working outside Korea for the first time. In the days that follow those shuffled brief their replacements, as staff remaining in their jobs update new management teams on the status of projects and issues.
Some years we do see less re-organization of the teams, departments, and division---some years more. The later can be driven by leadership looking to “shake up” the organization to spur growth. All said, change is commonplace and an accepted side of Korean business.
This year’s concerns in the Korean economy had prompted the major Korean groups to initiate a November early start to the year-end re-structuring…. But no sooner than announced, the Korean Presidential scandals has required the Groups to re-consider, pushing off the early annual move. This said, LG, CJ and Kolon have finally started their annual shifting of staff...... Media reports Samsung and SK to do so very soon, too... with the Hyundai Motor Group planning to announce promotions of executives at the end of the month.
So what to look for later this month.
The top Chaebol will post their promotions and provide some insight on trends. For example, we’ll see public announcements in the Korean language business media on a total number of the leading chaebol executives promoted--those advancing from General Manager (bujang) to Director (e-sa), and above. The Chaebol usually also comment on whether this year’s promotion number is more or less than in the past and “why.”
More recently the number of female employees who are made executives with a Group has been highlighted, a gradual move upward by women in the ranks. This is in contrast to a time when they were considered temporary staff and not long-term staff on track to be considered for management.
Finally, for teams below Director, time in rank promotions follow a model of 3-4 years for each of the first tiers up to Manager. For each upper managerial level—Deputy General Manager and General Manager-- 5 years in a common tenure between each grade level.
For global teams, I suggest you congratulate those promoted, but also be sensitive to team members who were passed over… time in grade just one criteria for promotion.
Questions? Comments? Just ask.