Monday, May 23, 2016

Everything Korea: May 23, Global Mandates, My Workarounds

Stepping back for a moment, I have shared in Vodcast as well as in my books and commentaries the role(s) of Korean executive coordinators.  As expatriates assigned to overseas operations much of their day-to-day work is to act as liaisons with the company’s HQ teams. Some of this assignment is to serve as the local point of contact for correspondence and request from the HQ.  Skimming through their email they prioritize correspondence-- determining what are low level requests, answering some themselves, forwarding others, and elevating those deemed important.  The same goes for their web-and phone chats…
So what is changing…
We are seeing the model moving to more direct communications between local teams and Korea, and with this new challenges have surfaced.  In many cases Korean teams reaching out directly are unfamiliar with nuances in local governance, or the complexity of a project / services. Whereas in the past, an executive coordinator acting as the go-between might screen a request before engaging the local team.
In turn requests might require local teams hours to compile or research—their days already stretched thin.  In some cases, requests are stacking up with new inquiries coming in faster than teams can complete.
In contrast to the West, HQ teams are often dedicated to a singular project, while the local team may be managing a multiple and diverse project workloads. And, with balli balli  (Hurray Hurray) as defacto core value, the workplace expectation is for an immediate respond to requests.  More to the point, it means things need to get done today and now, not tomorrow.
First and foremost…
Build rapport with the Korean team member via phone and email.  As the mutual understanding and trust grow, early formality can drop and more frank colleague-to-colleague correspondence will develop.  This can mean asking for when they truly need the request fulfilled… or if there have 2-3 recent requests… what is the priority.   
As it is difficult to give one answer fits all situations, I’d be happy to suggest some appropriate workarounds.  
For questions raised, Stacey, my personal assistant at can coordinate a time for us to chat by phone, meet or handle by email.

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