Human resources managers face colossal task

Updated: 2013-01-18 14:14

(China Daily)

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Human Resources | ED Zhang

Pressure is piling up for human resources managers.

As the whole country is talking about the change of the economic growth model - from an old model that relied primarily on cheap labor to a new one based on quality manufacturing, diversified services and domestic consumption - who are the people who will make the change happen?

Where will we find those would-be innovators at the national level, industry level, as well as corporate level?

Human resources managers face colossal task

A booth at a large-scale job fair in Shenyang, Liaoning on Jan 12. The event was joined by 168 enterprises providing some 3,000 vacancies. [Photo / Xinhua]

There is quite a gap between demand and supply in the talent market. And it's not hard to understand why, said Xu Jing, principal of Heidrick & Struggles, the global executive search firm headquartered in Chicago.

"It takes time to build a large pool of talent. It's not like pushing a button. It takes a very long time for a society to develop an adequate stock of knowledge and experience for the expected innovation," she said in an interview with China Daily.

By contrast, China's reform and opening-up policy was launched no more than 30 years ago. "How much managerial expertise could the country have accumulated in just over two decades?"

There was always some unsatisfied demand for managerial talent - even during the high-growth years under the old economic model. Between now and then, the only difference is that the shortage of talent got worse.

"In the past, there were still a few. Now there seems to be none, as some companies say," Xu said.

And the shortage comes at a time when an increasing number of Chinese companies are trying to expand investment and operations overseas. What can the corporate leaders do?

Xu believes that first, of course, they have to "import talent" - or look for skilled employees outside the company, and even outside the country.

Then, they have to change their way of managing people, and adopt an "open attitude", which means working with teams comprising people from different backgrounds.

The companies that have done M&A deals abroad should take a good look at their experience and learn their lessons.

Also, they have to invest seriously in training programs designed for their future echelon of C-level executives, by using internal and high-quality external resources, including top-level business schools.

And they also have to know where to find the right talent.

"The fact is," Xu said, "there are people out there who can help - so long as you know where they are and in what ways their expertise can be best utilized."

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