Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Korea Facing: Approvals

By Don Southerton, BCW Editor

In this week's Korea Facing update we look at approvals, and the challenges.
BTW why not subscribe to Korea Facing.

In the Korea Facing article on Decision Making, we pointed out that in most cases leadership made key decisions and teams implemented.  Getting these approvals in itself can be a challenge, time consuming, and should take into account such subtleties as senior management's mood.

At times, teams can wait days for an approval. This can be because senior Korean management is out of the office and traveling.  But, it can also be that Korean teams try to be sensitive to their boss' mood, well-being, and workload, along with an awareness of pressing issues impacting the company and their division. 

In other words, if senior management is dealing with a major challenge, or looks stressed, team leaders may delay requesting a meeting that day. In contrast, if their senior management looks to be in a good mood, timing might be better to get an approval. Again timing is everything and good timing--being sensitive--is the sign of a savvy team leader.

An Example
In once instance when I was in Korea I witnessed teams (there was a line) waiting all day to meet with an overseas business Vice President to get approvals for a wide range of projects. One specifically involving a merger of services in the world's largest and most competitive car market.  The delay: the VP was on the phone with his back turned to the door making arrangements for his daughter's wedding...a personal matter, but one which the teams and subordinates would not infringe. 

Take away...
In a word, be patient when waiting for an approval. Recognize that to be effective Korean teams often need to wait and time their meetings with seniors for an approval. Be sensitive and do not unduly press Korean teams. If the issue is time sensitive, (which many usually are), communicate this, and seek clarity on the status. In many cases, pro-actively sharing with your clients, suppliers, and service providers the Korea facing approval process can greatly reduces stress on your side.  

Questions? Comments? Challenges?  Let me know by email.


  1. Don I think you are quite correct, Executives often have time challenges as well as the subordinates, however the excutive would appreciate being 'carefully' advised that particular delays are a financial risk. Sometimes executives are not fully briefed by the requestor,and will delay by asking elsewhere rather than seem incompetent infront of the requestor or make the wrong decision. Trevor@world-markets.biz

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