It’s common for Korean overseas business to embed Korean expatriates in their
local operations. Their functions and responsibilities vary with each company, but
frequently an expat’s role is liaison between Korea and the local subsidiary.
For westerners unfamiliar with the Korean model, an expat’s responsibilities usually
translate into the Korean required to sign off on all departmental decisions—trivial
to substantial. This can be a huge challenge when newly assigned expats have
limited background in or knowledge of the host country’s operations and market.
They do however know the mother company procedures well. They have been
successful at their past assignments. And, they often were assigned to the
headquarters’ overseas support teams, have traveled extensively to subsidiaries,
and were educated or experienced life outside Korea. However, like western teams,
their experiences and skills can vary.
Once overseas, workload can strong impact an expats’ performance. Cognitively,
they recognize localization is needed but, especially if under pressure to perform
and hit goals, may defer to their former Korean HQ procedures and cultural norms.
What I strongly suggest is American management mentor new expats. Here are my
- Mentoring Koreans is building on the relationship.
- Express genuine willingness to support. Tell them that you care.
- Ask, and listen to whatever they want to talk about.
- Then respond anecdotally if possible. In many cases, share what other successful expats have done well in the past.
In Korea most team members have a Mentor within their company, in fact that’s the
role of a Senior. Much of the mentoring happened when they go out to dinner with
alcohol drinks. Knowing it may be difficult to share with the boss their challenges,
Mentors use the effects of drinking to get their teams to open up and talk.
Would you like to schedule a time to discuss mentoring?
To facilitate and with my rather demanding workload, Stacey, my personal assistant
at firstname.lastname@example.org can schedule us for a time.